Haiti: 6 months after...

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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It is sometimes hard to remember that it has only been six months since January 12th. Many Haitians, when they speak of the earthquake, refer only to "before" - before, in 35 seconds, they lost so much: friends, family, homes, schools, churches - and their visions of the future.

What happened here on January 12th was a disaster of a magnitude that would have set any country reeling. Over 222,570 people have died, 300,572 injured and a staggering 2.3 million - nearly one quarter of the population - displaced. The government lost thousands of civil servants and most of their key infrastructure was destroyed. 101 United Nations colleagues perished and many more suffered terrible personal losses. Despite these very difficult and painful circumstances, the humanitarian response was one of the largest of its kind ever mounted and continues every day to help survivors of this tragedy - the largest urban natural catastrophe in recorded history.

This brochure highlights progress achieved by the humanitarian community working in support of the Government of Haiti in key sectors over the last six months. These include the distribution of emergency shelters to over 1.5 million people and of food to 4.3 million Haitians. More than one million people have access to potable water daily and over 900,000 people have been vaccinated so far. As a result, there have been no major epidemics in the camps. The brochure also maps out current challenges and strategies to address them that we will follow in the coming months. In the camps, ordinary Haitians have shown extraordinary leadership in so many ways.

With humanitarian assistance underway, the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and their partners have started to work on immediate recovery activities. As in many other contexts, and certainly in Haiti, humanitarian and recovery work are not sequential, they need to happen simultaneously. We must enable people to work as fast as possible: again and again those in the camps tell us that if they can earn then they can take charge of their own recovery. We must continue getting children back to school, getting the rubble cleared from the streets, identifying land to process it, helping repair housing and putting up transitional shelter as fast as possible. We must continue to prevent disease and to minimize exposure to hurricanes, storms and floods. We must make sure the needs of other Haitians across the country are not forgotten, especially those hosting survivors, and that economic development and social services take hold throughout the country. We must support the government in leading the very complex task of national transformation, and ensure that all Haitians, especially those affected, have a chance to shape their future. The creation of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission represents an opportunity to implement the priorities defined in the Government's Action Plan for national recovery and development of Haiti and ensure that recovery investments are coordinated and aligned against those priorities.

We have seen extraordinary strength as Haitians coped with appalling suffering with dignity, calm and a truly humbling willingness to help each other regardless of how little they have. Our role is to support them as they and their government build a brighter future together.

Nigel Fisher