2 years on Haiti still needs attention
2011 has been a year of transition for Haiti. Humanitarian aid and the commitment of NGOs in Haiti continued all along the last 12 months, but the 12 January 2010 earthquake has left deep marks on the country. On top of these scars, new strains occurred with the cholera epidemic as soon as October 2010, and the phase of political transition, which ended with the election and swearing in of a new President of the Republic. During this crucial period for Haiti, ACTED teams, mobilised alongside affected populations since the disaster, and experienced through their work in the country since 2004, supported the populations in its recovery and in its new struggle against cholera.
A year of transition and continued commitment
Granting earthquake-affected families access to housing is an essential step for their socioeconomic recovery. Approximately 520,000 people still live in more than 750 makeshift camps. ACTED’s actions from September 2010 to December 2011 helped to accommodate 2726 families in the city of Leogane, and in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. More than 13,000 people therefore recovered a home to consider and rebuild a new life. Our teams also proceeded with a structural assessment of 16,291 buildings in the Leogane urban area. This operation originated in 2010, in close collaboration with Haitian authorities, and aimed at evaluating public and private infrastructure, in order to help inhabitants move back into decent lodging. ACTED engineers also repaired 340 families’ damaged houses in central Leogane, supporting the most vulnerable households that did not have the means to fix their own homes. One hundred and sixty builders were therefore trained for such repairs, as a way of allowing Haitians to take an active part in the reconstruction of their community.
The cholera epidemic, which has been on a rampage in the country for 15 months now, is an additional risk for already feeble populations. The response to this health threat is one of ACTED’s priorities. Our teams in the Bas Artibonite, at the centre of the country, have been present there for several years, and played a determining role in emergency cholera response interventions, including access to potable water, sanitation infrastructure, good hygiene practice awareness, as well as support to community health societies and institutions, etc.
In the light of this particular context, ACTED has also been working on the prevention and mitigation of potential disasters that have been threatening the country regularly. Emergency stocks were gathered and prepositioned in the Bas Artibonite and Plateau Central to respond to eventual emergencies: some 350 metric tons of food rations, 1.2 million Aquatabs for water purification, water purity testing kits, some 3,000 hygiene kits, 29,733 bars of soap, etc. To support local health infrastructure in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, reactivity is decisive in preventing the deterioration of affected populations’ health conditions. The 2011 hurricane seasons was finally calm in Haiti, but ACTED nevertheless intends to continue contingency planning and disaster prevention and mitigation before the next season.
Mobilized towards sustainable recovery
Today, ACTED teams in Haiti include 198 people, including 14 international staff, committed on a daily basis to supporting the most vulnerable populations in their socioeconomic recovery, in rebuilding their neighbourhoods, and in identifying sustainable solutions for access to basic services such as water and sanitation.
ACTED works with the communities and their government institutions, and keeps a close eye on the context we operate in. We therefore acquire a better understanding of what is at stake, what Haitians expect and what they need. ACTED is up close with the recovery process, and with the fight against cholera, while looking for sustainable solutions for long term and responsible development in Haiti.
For more information, see ou Haiti 2 years on report (French only) here.