Haiti caught between prestige and misery

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Malteser International experiences financial gap between transition and development aid

Cologne/Port-au-Prince. „In Cité Soleil, an urban slum in Port-au-Prince, we are facing another humanitarian catastrophe and in some cases all we can do is watch the misery unfold“, Maren Paech, Malteser International’s senior desk officer for Haiti, describes the current situation in Haiti. Even two years after the earthquake, which shook Haiti on 12 January 2010, the situation is still very complex and diverging: „On the one hand, we are struggling to secure the most basic standards of living for the people still living in camps; on the other hand, rehabilitating measures taken in prestigious neighbourhoods make great progress and some camps are almost oversupplied.“

The precarious situation in some camps becomes especially apparent after heavy rainfall, when fecal waste is washed up into the tents because the latrines are congested, so the expert. „Many people are still living in these camps because there is simply no alternative, but there are also others that stay in camps because they are well taken care of“, Paech further explains. The current situation shows once more that, in Haiti, long-term developmental aid is required in order to truly achieve a sustainable improvement. However, the prompt and adequate distribution of financial resources is still a major challenge. More recent humanitarian crises in other countries have replaced Haiti in the budgets of international donors.

Malteser International, the relief service of the Order of Malta for worldwide humanitarian aid, is registered with the Haitian government and is currently active at three locations:

In Port-au-Prince, Malteser International initially carried out preventive measures against cholera in 18 camps. Now, additional measures are necessary because many aid organisations have left the camps and there is nobody taking responsibility to repair ripped tents or empty congested latrines. As a result, Malteser International is now taking over these tasks because, without a functioning infrastructure, any education about hygiene and health is futile. All relief measures in the camps are part of a comprehensive project. The aim is to enable the people living in the camps to return to their former neighbourhoods, where Malteser International also builds and rehabilitates sanitary facilities to improve the access to basic sanitation.

In rural Darbonne, Malteser International runs a health centre, which will be handed over to a local partner organisation in 2012. “The situation in Darbonne is stable,“ says Paech. However, there is not enough money to provide health care as well as sanitation and clean drinking water in 25 villages located in the hinterland of Darbonne.

In Belle Anse, one of the poorest regions in the southeast of Haiti, Malteser International now, after the emergency response to cholera has been completed, concentrates its efforts on an improved water supply, sanitation and food for families living in extreme poverty.

Implementing measures of disaster risk reduction, Malteser international additionally prepares the Haitian population for future disasters and their consequences. Eight international and 115 local staff members of Malteser International are currently active in Haiti. All in all, Malteser International has 8.6 Mio euros from private donations at its disposal. Until the end of 2011, 5.2 Mio had been spent and 3.4 Mio euros are budgeted.

Attention Editors:
Maren Paech, Malteser International’s senior desk officer for Haiti, is available for interviews. Contact through Malteser International’s headquarters at +49 (0) 221 98 22-155