Haïti: Première Urgence takes over the management of the 47 camps in the Martissant-Fontamarra zone

from Première Urgence
Published on 31 May 2010 View Original
Very few humanitarian players are active in the Martissant area (south of Port-au-Prince), a district where the main cause of death prior to the 12th January earthquake was caused by bullets*.

Nevertheless, the aid deployed in the areas the most affected by the earthquake may accentuate even further the vulnerability of the Martissant inhabitants who have been long abandoned because of the violent situation prevailing in the area. This is precisely why Première Urgence decided to deploy its humanitarian aid campaigns here from the beginning of the disaster.

The International Migration Organization (IMO) and The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA) asked Première Urgence to take over the management of the 47 camps in the Martissant-Fontamarra area.

This area of Port-au-Prince, located in the south of the city on the coast, is an extremely underprivileged district that became impoverished following the massive flow of populations coming from the countryside in the 1990's who settled on the hillside in an anarchical manner. Very quickly, the community public infrastructures were unable to cope with this strong demographic growth.

Due to lack of space, housing zones have been built on the coastline, poised on piles of waste which were already encroaching 900 meters into the sea. These fragile construction areas built on top of compact waste are also flood zones, as during the rainy season, the neighbouring ravines run into the zone. The proximity to the sea also makes it a prime cyclone target.

It is on the Boulangerie site, one of these insalubrious and totally inhuman grounds that on 12th January, part of the displaced populations set up home, such as Daphne, 20 years old, mother of a little boy who abandoned her damaged house and cannot return for fear of another quake. Her living conditions are intolerable: a makeshift shelter made of tin and canvas covers in the middle of all this refuse.

This camp for the displaced sheltering 700 families, nearly 3,500 people, is one of the 47 camps in the zone that Première Urgence manages: census, identification of needs, information feed back to the IMO.

Our teams must finalize the work as quickly as possible so that aid can arrive fast and be distributed to the more vulnerable populations. Understandably, the populations are extremely frustrated and tension rises when humanitarians arrive "only" for this indispensable counting process.

Première Urgence will continue and spread its programmes in this area where needs are huge. Food distribution (more than 80,000 food rations have been distributed) and emergency provisions (hygiene kits, mattresses, covers, tents ...) actions have already taken place and are continuing. A public school in the zone has been identified and will soon be repaired so that all conditions will be in place for 2,300 students.

A construction programme for shelters and latrines, incorporating a "Cash for Work" incentive will significantly improve living conditions of 3,250 homeless families and will provide temporary jobs to 1,800 of the most vulnerable homes.