This report was produced by OCHA Haiti with contributions from United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian partners.
On 25 August, UN agencies and partners launched a US$187.3 million Flash Appeal to reach 500,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by the 14 August earthquake.
Around 650,000 people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in the three most affected departments – Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud – where 634,000 were already in need of multisectoral assistance before the quake.
Based on lessons learned from past emergencies, humanitarian actors are aiming to capitalize on local and national level expertise, capacities and knowledge to promote a rapid and effective response tailored to the expressed needs of affected people.
Humanitarian convoys en route to hard-hit areas continue to be blocked by different groups, including affected people who are growing increasingly frustrated by a lack of assistance, and armed gangs who are looting relief supplies.
800K affected people
(Source: UN System in Haiti)
650K in need of emergency humanitarian assistance
(Source: UN System in Haiti)
$187.3M in humanitarian financing required to reach 500,000 affected people targeted for assistance
(Source: Haiti Earthquake Flash Appeal – August 2021)
2.2K+ people dead, with more expected
320 people still missing
130K damaged and destroyed homes
Nearly two weeks after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked south-western Haiti, humanitarian assistance has begun reaching some of the hardest-to-reach areas, where the most vulnerable are still unable to meet their urgent need for food, basic sanitation and hygiene and life-saving health services. In some remote rural areas, response personnel and relief supplies have yet to reach those most in need.
The compounded impacts of the earthquake and Tropical Depression Grace have greatly exacerbated pre-existing needs. The UN System in Haiti estimates 650,000 people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance, a concerning figure considering that 634,000 people across the three most affected departments – Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud – already needed multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance before the quake.
As of the latest updates issued on 25 August, the Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) reported 2,207 deaths,12,268 injured and 320 missing. By 22 August, search-and-rescue crews had extracted 24 missing people from the rubble, including 4 children, who were airlifted to Camp-Perrin to receive emergency medical assistance.
In the Sud Department, aftershocks continue almost two weeks after the initial quake on 14 August, creating widespread panic among the affected population. Some people whose homes are still standing in affected areas are choosing to sleep in the streets in fear that the structures may collapse at any moment.
The devastating quake reduced entire areas in the Sud, Nippes and Grand’Anse departments to rubble, destroying and damaging thousands of buildings.
According to the DGPC, at least 52,953 homes have been completely destroyed and 77,006 others sustained damages. While response to urgent shelter needs is a key priority, the Government is aiming to avoid the establishment of large-scale camps for internally displaced people (IDP), similar to those which sprung up after the 2010 earthquake and again following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, with a view to mitigate the health risks associated with placing tens of thousands of people in close quarters amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While collective efforts remain focused on immediate life-saving activities, it is evident that the quake will have long-lasting effects on all facets of life in affected areas for years to come. For those left displaced and homeless, especially women and children, protection is a key concern as the risk of violence increases, including sexual and genderbased violence (SGBV). In 2020, SGBV increased by a staggering 377 per cent in Haiti amid the pandemic. Immediate protection and shelter solutions will be critical to saving lives and preserving human dignity, as incidents of SGBV are likely to go up in the aftermath of the quake due to increased insecurity, desperation and need.
After the 2010 earthquake, Human Rights Watch reported that adequate safety and health measures were not effectively mainstreamed into response efforts to reduce the particular risks and differentiated needs of women and girls. Consequently, women’s needs in reproductive and maternal health were unmet and a lack of food forced many women to resort to negative coping mechanisms, including trading sex for food.
UNFPA estimates that more than 22,000 women will give birth in the next three months, with approximately 3,700 of them requiring Caesarean sections or experiencing potentially deadly childbirth-related complications, making genderresponsive actions in health and nutrition urgent response priorities. To avoid the shortcomings of previous emergency responses, the Government and humanitarian partners must ensure the collection and analysis of sex- and agedisaggregated data to better align programme design with the specific needs of women, girls, men and boys.
Essential infrastructure including WASH and health facilities have been destroyed, and livelihoods completely devastated. As such, the integration of early recovery and rehabilitation activities into response efforts will be essential for restoring livelihoods.
With an aim to facilitate long-term relief, humanitarian partners are strategically linking their relief activities to Government-led response efforts, working closely with the DGPC and relevant ministries to ensure a well-coordinated and efficient response channelled through the established and streamlined humanitarian architecture at both the national and departmental levels. Based on lessons learned from past emergencies, humanitarian actors are aiming to capitalize on local and national level expertise, capacities and knowledge to promote a rapid and effective response tailored to the expressed needs of the Haitian people. This is particularly important in urban centres, such as Les Cayes, where the increased short-term presence of international NGOs could potentially draw attention away from long-term efforts and partners with a long-standing presence in the region.
However, persistent access and security constraints continue to challenge the efficiency of the response. Impassable roads and damaged bridges, including the Dumarsais Estimé bridge that stretches over the Grand'Anse River, have slowed down the delivery of assistance, with conditions on the ground worsening considerably following the passage of Tropical Depression Grace on 16 and 17 August, triggering considerable flooding in coastal areas and numerous landslides. Without the Dumarsais Estimé bridge or alternative routes leading to Jérémie, logistical access to affected populations is severely hindered. In recent days, humanitarian convoys have been blocked by different groups of affected people, who are growing increasingly anxious and frustrated by a lack of assistance, and an increase in armed gang presence along major arterial roads, including national road 2, which connects Port-au-Prince with affected areas in the southern peninsula. There have also been instances of aid supplies being looted by armed gangs.
To address access constraints, robust efforts have been undertaken to negotiate a humanitarian corridor which has brought some predictability to an extremely volatile and precarious security situation. On 22 August, one of country’s most notorious gang leaders took to social media to announce that his allied gangs had reached a truce in the interest of supporting relief efforts. While the humanitarian corridor allowed for the first humanitarian convoys to reach hard-hit communities, it does not offer a permanent solution to the challenges faced by response actors.
In such a complex response environment, the Government and humanitarian partners must ensure that Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and effective two-way Communication with Communities (CwC) are mainstreamed into all response and early recovery activities. This requires establishing participatory spaces where affected people, especially the most vulnerable, such as women and children, people with disabilities and the LGBTIQ+ community, can actively participate in decision-making to ensure that their differentiated needs and concerns are meaningfully integrated into programme design. The multi-sectoral response strategy of humanitarian actors must emphasize the importance of community engagement and trust-building developed through transparent and clear communications on how to access aid and the challenges and limitations of humanitarian assistance.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.