Haiti – 5 Years after the Earthquake Update from UNICEF
Five years after the Earthquake, the road to recovery for Haiti’s children is long.
UNICEF BELIEVES THAT EVERY CHILD COUNTS. JOINING HANDS TO REBUILD THE LIVES OF THE HARDEST TO REACH CHILDREN, WE ENSURE THAT EVERY CHILD WILL NOT ONLY
RECOVER, BUT THRIVE.
The new year did not bring hope and promise for the children of Haiti in 2010, but fear and loss. On 12th January, a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit the Caribbean nation, devastating the lives of 1.5 million children, killing more than 220,000 people and injuring hundreds of thousands of people. This was the single largest catastrophe to hit the country in centuries. Today, Haiti has made significant progress to rebuild and recover, though it is proving a long road to full recovery.
Before the disaster hit, Haiti was the most densely populated and least developed country in the western hemisphere. More than half the population were living below the poverty line on less than £1.20 a day. Children were adversely affected by these conditions, with 58% malnourished and only half of primary-school aged children attending school. The 2010 earthquake brought what little development had been made to a halt, causing the demolition of schools, government buildings and basic infrastructure.
Five years on, there is clear evidence that meaningful progress has been made to restore what was lost. In many cases, children are now living in better conditions than before the earthquake. Today, we can see the positive impact Unicef has made collaboratively with the Haitian government, resulting in more children accessing education, health care, nutritious foods, safe water and protection than ever before.
UNICEF’S RESPONSE—THANKS TO YOUR SUPPORT
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Unicef led life-saving response and recovery efforts for education, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene. As a result of the generosity of our supporters, Unicef was able to quickly mobilise and provide aid to children and their families who were in serious need.
Unicef worked with partners, including the Haitian government, partner organisations and communities, first to meet immediate humanitarian needs, and then to create long-term sustainable development. Unicef’s key responses and achievements for children to date are outlined below.
- 750,000 children now have access to education
- 225 classrooms have been rebuilt and 193 semi-permanent schools constructed
- More than 15,000 teachers in 2,500 schools received learning materials as part of the government’s initiative for free education
- 1,497,900 children in 5,760 schools received hygiene promotion supplies, including soap for protection against cholera
- More than 15,000 children under-5 years old were treated for acute malnutrition in 2011
- Acute malnutrition among children under-5 has been reduced by half since the earthquake
- 500,000 mothers were provided with nutrition and breastfeeding counselling in 198 Baby- Friendly Corners and 40 Infant and Young Child Feeding committees
- Haiti joined the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, an intervention approach enabling children to grow up healthy
Infant mortality rates have steadily declined as:
- Almost 3 million children have been protected against vaccine preventable diseases
- Over 2,000 pregnant women with HIV were placed on antiretroviral treatment and Unicef has provided medicine, equipment and technical support to emergency obstetric clinics
- Unicef has established 149 Cholera Treatment Units and 1,270 Oral Rehydration Points,treating over 139,000 cases
- 4,358 Community Health and Sanitation Agents and 1,453 health providers were trained on cholera prevention
- Improved water supplies and safe sanitation reached over 600,000 people in camps and earthquake affected communities
- 62% of households nationally now have a place to wash their hands
- More than 2 out of 3 households have been supplied with access to safe drinking water
- 8 out of 10 children are now registered with the state and 73% have a birth certificate
- 520 Child Friendly Spaces have been established, benefitting over 120,000 children
- 780 separated children have been registered and over 2,770 reunited with their families
A LONG AND CHALLENGING ROAD TO RECOVERY
Despite progress in the last five years, the road to recovery has been long and the children and families of Haiti continue to face many challenges.
The Haitian government has made landmark progress with developing and ratifying laws and policies which protect and enforce the rights of children. Five years on, as funds for Haiti have gradually decreased, and the world’s attention refocuses on other political and natural catastrophes, we must remember the children of Haiti. Rebuilding a country takes time and resource. Ensuring it is resistant to, and prepared for future emergencies, saves lives.
Unfortunately, 10% of children in the hardest to reach rural areas of Haiti have still not enefitted from recovery and progress. These children are exposed to more harmful conditions. For example, 51% of households in rural areas still do not have access to improved water, and 80% are living without access to appropriate sanitation systems. Now that we have moved on from providing immediate humanitarian relief, Unicef and partners have shifted focus within our current programme to reaching out to these rural communities, to truly ensure that all children will not only recover, but thrive.
Unicef continues to work through challenging situations to reach children. Subsequent emergencies have further disrupted the process of rebuilding children’s lives. A regional drought and two tropical storms in 2012 destroyed agricultural production and fisheries, plunging families into a serious food insecurity situation. Now, Haiti is experiencing a deadly epidemic of cholera, the largest in the world today, with 721,471 cases and 8,793 deaths reported since 2010.
Today, whilst 93% of people previously living in internally displaced persons camps have now left, over 85,000 people are still living in 123 camps five years after the earthquake. These camps are particularly exposed to the dire conditions that encourage the transmission of cholera, such as dirty water and a lack of latrines. However, cholera is not difficult to remedy. Up to 80% of cases can be successfully treated with simple oral rehydration salts, preventing the disease from killing within hours. Unicef is on the ground with emergency supplies, but resources are running lower and lower as time passes.
FROM EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO LONG-TERM CHANGE
Unicef’s focus in Haiti has shifted from immediate emergency response to developing a vision of sustainable long-term development. We are working to maintain the positive results we have been able to achieve for children now and in the future. To do this, we have collaborated with the Haitian government to build their aptitude for developing a society which delivers the needs of all its people, especially children.
Large-scale recovery efforts, such as infrastructure development, are becoming visible. Most importantly, Unicef has supported the Haitian government to develop a series of strategies to help the country progress. These include launching a National Sanitation Campaign in July 2014, to prevent and treat diseases such as cholera, and educate people on good sanitation practices. This will reach nearly 3.8 million people, 2,500 schools and 500 centres. Furthermore, a Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy is in operation until 2016, and a Strategic Development Plan outlines a vision up to 2030.
Unicef is committed to working alongside the Haitian government and communities to help overcome the remaining challenges and to achieve the following:
- Eliminate cholera from Haiti
- Leverage Haiti’s participation in the Scale Up Nutrition movement in the fight against malnutrition
- Close all internally displaced person camps and relocate inhabitants through viable return options and cash grants
- Advocate the government to increase budgets to enable greater availability and quality of social services, and support the delivery of these services to communities and households
- Strengthen mechanisms to monitor the delivery of services to ensure they adequately meet the needs of the society
- Create partnerships to scale up community-based interventions and develop local capacities to implement policies and programmes. This is vital to achieving sustainable development and maximum results with limited resources
THANK YOU FROM UNICEF
Thanks to the kind support of the Commission, Unicef was able to provide life-saving help to hundreds of thousands of children and their families in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
Five years on, Unicef and partners are continuing to focus on long-term sustainable development, to build the capacity of Haiti to meet all the needs of its people. Our focus is on healthcare delivery, household sanitation and to create the level of surveillance and rapid response required to finally eliminate cholera.
The meaningful progress Unicef has already made, to build back children’s lives in Haiti for the better, has only been possible as a result of your generosity. Thank you to the Jersey Overseas Aid Commis-sion for making a positive difference to children’s lives and for enabling Unicef to build a lasting future for children in Haiti.
A link to a video from our colleagues in the field that includes a special message from six year old Gloria who is now going to school, which I hope is of interest to you and the Commission:
BUILDING BACK SCHOOLS FOR THE BETTER
The earthquake forced 2.5 million children out of
school. These children, who in many cases also lost
their home, were left without a safe and happy place
to go to. Unicef’s aim was to reopen as many of these
schools as possible. Thanks to you, we did not just
bring them back. We brought them back better.
Two years later, Gloria, aged 6, had her first day at
school and she still uses Unicef materials to help her
Her teacher, Mireille Gazeau, dreams that Gloria
finishes school and makes something for herself,
choosing a career that she likes. “Gloria was shy
at first, but that has passed and now she feels
comfortable at school—her favourite subject is
Gloria’s story highlights the importance of getting
children back into school as quickly as possible
following an emergency. Today, more children
are going to school in Haiti than ever before.
Thanks to our supporters, Unicef
has been able to make the dream
of education a reality for Gloria and
many more children just like her.
“I’m happy because I can
come to class. I’m going
to have friends.”