Haiti: Earthquake Emergency Appeal n° MDRHT008, Operations update n° 25 - Twelve Months Progress Report

Period covered by the Progress Report:

13 January 2010 to 31 January 2011

Appeal target (current): 314,329,971 Swiss francs in cash, kind, or services are required to support the plan of action of the Haitian Red Cross (HRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide basic non-food items and emergency/transitional shelter to 80,000 beneficiary families and provide emergency health care, fulfilment of basic needs in water and sanitation and livelihoods support for vulnerable populations in the earthquake-affected region.

Appeal coverage: coverage currently stands at approximately 81 per cent. The 2,560,967 Swiss francs requested to support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society's inter-agency coordination of the Shelter and Non-Food Items Cluster has been covered by different donors.

Summary: A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, affecting 3 million people. The earthquake directly affected Port-au-Prince, Léogane, Petit and Grand Goâve and Jacmel, causing over 222,570 deaths and 300,572 injuries. Widespread destruction in Port-au-Prince left over 1.5 million people homeless and in Léogane and Gressier 70 per cent of homes were destroyed or damaged.

The response effort began a few hours after the earthquake, representing vast challenges. The country's densely populated capital city, Port-au-Prince, was effectively disabled; the full human cost would not be known for weeks and the real number of those who died may never be identified. Thousands of bodies started to pile up in the streets and outside hospitals. More were found trapped beneath the rubble days and even weeks later. The Haitian Red Cross staff and volunteers also suffered terrible personal losses but continued to work around the clock helping individuals in affected communities throughout Port-au-Prince and other affected areas. The United Nations suffered its largest single loss of life in its peacekeeping history and many humanitarian agencies already present in Haiti were unable to access their warehouses for relief supplies. The Presidential palace and many government buildings collapsed, hampering the central government, and are still in ruins to this day. Coordination efforts were disrupted by frequent power cuts and communications outages. Port-au-Prince's international airport was at first crippled by the quake, before being overloaded with the influx of humanitarian assistance and cargo. Even airports in the Dominican Republic struggled to cope with the number of aid flights that quickly began to arrive. The main port in Port-au- Prince was closed due to serious damage and many roads were blocked by rubble and crushed vehicles in the first hours of the earthquake. In response, the Red Cross Red Crescent immediately deployed a Field Assessment and Coordination Team to assess needs. This led to the deployment of an unprecedented number of Emergency Response Units (ERUs) - self-contained specialized units which provide essential services for fixed periods of time. ERUs deployed to Haiti included field hospitals, water treatment plants, logistic bases, portable operational centres, emergency telecommunication infrastructure and sanitation supplies with a total of 21 ERUs and 3 response teams which were deployed to Haiti in order to deliver critically needed items and services to the affected families.

In the emergency phase, the focus was firmly on urgently needed shelter, health care, relief items and water and sanitation. The IFRC Earthquake response programme has made significant progress. At the end of January 2011, the relief teams had distributed 347,436 tarpaulins, 263 947 blankets, 294,268 hygiene kits and 139,574 mosquito nets. The transitional shelter programme has been moving forward with the completion of 848 shelters by the end of January 2011. In the health sector, more than 150,000 people have been reached by the community based health services and the health unit has been particularly involved in the cholera operation during this month. 218,910 people have been reached with daily water distribution by the end of January 2011 and 597,711 cubic metres water have been delivered; in addition, 144,316 people have been provided with sanitation facilities.

The Disaster Preparedness/Disaster Risk Reduction programme has strengthened the capacity of 13 Haitian Red Cross Branches to respond to disasters and 25,000 vulnerable households have been covered by pre-positioned stocks as of the end of December 2010. Since the beginning of the operation, the beneficiary communication unit has delivered 33.1 million messages and reached 1.2 million Haitians through SMSs. 30 hours of radio shows have also been broadcasted during the past year.

Twelve months on, needs are still great and many people are still vulnerable. As per the latest information from the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, there are currently 1,061 IDP camps in Haiti and 680,494 IDPs living in these camps. As a result, non-food relief items continue to be distributed with a focus on replacing emergency shelter materials.

Emphasis on recovery programmes is steadily increasing within the IFRC and other agencies present in Haiti and achievements are being made in supporting the affected population towards the recovery phase. Housing the earthquake-affected population still presents challenges as land issues persist in hampering progress, but gradually transitional shelter is replacing emergency shelter and a number of alternative solutions are proving successful in the country. In collaboration with other humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross Red Crescent has supported the alleviation of the huge strain placed on local authorities in health care, water and sanitation, and civil protection. Capacity-building activities aimed at strengthening competence are a crucial element of the Red Cross Red Crescent plan of action supporting the public authorities in reclaiming full control in their respective sectors. The main aim of the IFRC approach to disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction is to address the local vulnerabilities that lead to disaster. When an unexpected outbreak of cholera occurred in October 2010, an integrated approach focusing on health care and water and sanitation was adopted to encompass hygiene promotion, cholera prevention and treatment. Furthermore, in November 2010, as Hurricane Tomas threatened, tens of thousands of people were reached through disaster-preparedness activities in dozens of camps and communities.

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