Haiti: Disaster risk management weathers storms to save lives

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

According to the World Bank's Natural Disaster Hotspot study of 2006, Haiti is one of the countries most vulnerable to adverse natural events. Haiti's high levels of poverty, weak infrastructure, degraded environment, and history of ineffective governments with serious fiscal problems often converge to magnify the size and scope of a natural disaster. This was clearly displayed during the 2004 hurricane season when over 5,000 Haitians lost their lives following Tropical Storm Jeanne, and in 2008 when Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike inflicted damages estimated at about US$900 million, or around 15 percent of GDP.


The Emergency Recovery and Disaster Management Project (ERDMP) was approved in 2005 and augmented with additional financing in 2008 to strengthen the capacity of the National Disaster Risk Management System, in particular the Directorate of Civil Protection (DPC), to prepare for and coordinate public response to a natural emergency. Support is also provided to rehabilitate and reconstruct damaged small-scale public infrastructure.


The DPC used its new resources to coordinate a response that successfully mitigated effects of the devastating 2008 hurricane season, during which four major storms over a three-week period affected 865,000 people and forced 130,000 into shelters. While the 2008 catastrophe impacted nearly three times as many people as Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004, the death toll was nearly 80 percent lower.


- Fifty-four community civil protection committees (CCPC) were established, trained and equipped in five departments, with each executing a $25,000 local risk mitigation subproject. Supplemental funding supports creation of another 19 CCPCs, while existing CCPCs will receive more training, equipment and funding for additional local risk mitigation subprojects.

- Five Departmental Emergency Operation Centers were modernized and/or outfitted with new equipment.

- A DPC project coordination and training center was built in Port-au-Prince, and a roster of national disaster risk management trainers was established.

-Ten rehabilitation and reconstruction subprojects were completed, the largest of which is the rehabilitation of the Fonds Verrettes watershed. Another 22 rehabilitation subprojects have been identified and are under tender.

- An extensive public awareness and education campaign was designed and implemented.


Drawing on IDA's global expertise in disaster management and mitigation, the project has been instrumental in focusing policy makers' attention on a more comprehensive approach to coping with natural emergencies. Vulnerability reduction and risk management are now among the principal transversal priorities of the Government of Haiti's National Strategy for Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth. IDA mobilized internationally renowned experts in disaster risk management to participate in the institutional analysis of the DCP, revision of the National Disaster Risk Management Response Plan, and establishment of the Community-Based Disaster Risk Management program. Numerous knowledge exchange and training missions to Central America have also been supported.

- Total project cost is US$19.4 million, with US$12 million coming from the original IDA grant (H-1430-HT) and US$7.4 million from an additional IDA grant (H-3530-HT) following damage from Tropical Storm Noel in October 2007.

- The original IDA grant is 83 percent disbursed, with the remainder under contract or tender. The additional grant is 70 percent under tender, with the first contracts signed in July 2009.


Acting as a catalyst, IDA helped reenergize work by the government and the donor community on disaster risk management. IDA continues to coordinate and focus the efforts of numerous development partners, including multilateral donors such as the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as international NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, the Pan-American Development Foundation, and Oxfam GB. IDA's convening role and close collaboration with other development partners, especially UNDP, has provided an important framework for multilateral reengagement in this critical area in Haiti.

IDA financed Haiti's entry and subsequent payments to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) for earthquake and excess-wind insurance coverage from 2007 to 2009. Without the grant, Haiti would likely not have joined this pilot initiative creating the first regional facility to protect small island states from the financial impact of natural disasters. The facility is currently testing a rainfall loss model that, if proven viable, will become the foundation for offering excess-rainfall insurance coverage. Considering Haiti's extreme vulnerability to hydrometeorological events, the government is likely to transfer most of its coverage to this type of policy in 2010.


The key priority is to continue to build capacity for comprehensive risk management and vulnerability reduction that targets all phases of the disaster cycle (prevention, mitigation, reconstruction and recovery) with appropriate actions by relevant government sectors. This will ensure that disaster risk management is mainstreamed as a core component of programs for sustainable poverty reduction and economic growth. Continued support from IDA will be required to ensure that Haiti successfully transitions from a country "living at risk" to one"living with risk."


Emergency Recovery and Disaster Management (2005-08)

-Name of Project: Emergency Recovery and Disaster Risk Management Project (2005-10)
- Amount: $19.4 million
- Contact Information:

World Bank: Ross Gartley, Operation Officer: rgartley@worldbank.org
Client: Dr. Yolene Suréna, Project Coordinator: ysurena@gmail.com

- Web sites:

World Bank Disaster Risk Management: www.worldbank.org/hazards
Haiti Directorate of Civil Protection: www.protectioncivile.gouv.ht