Haiti: Earthquake Situation Report No. 3 (31 August 2021)

Situation Report
Originally published


This report was produced by OCHA Haiti with contributions from United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian partners.


• Getting assistance to the hardest-to-reach rural areas remains a critical response gap as severe access constraints prevent Government and humanitarian actors from reaching affected people outside urban centers.

• National authorities plan to rollout a 6-week PostDisaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) with the support of the UN system, the European Union, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

• UN Women and CARE will conduct a rapid gender analysis of the earthquake’s impact with the support of national authorities, local women’s organizations and UN agencies.

• USAID announced US$32 million in financing for humanitarian partners delivering life-saving multisectoral assistance in health, emergency shelter and food, WASH and protection services in quake-affected areas.

• COVID-19-related health risks are mounting as preventative measures, including mask wearing and physical distancing, are compromised by the realities of the operational context.

• Localization, Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and effective two-way Communication with Communities (CwC), including women’s organizations, are key priorities of the humanitarian community’s response strategy, with a view to ensure local capacities, knowledge and expertise are at the core of these efforts.

• Access to GBV services has been significantly reduced in the aftermath of the earthquake due to access, logistics and security challenges negatively affecting GBV case management, particularly affecting women and girls.

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
(Source: Haiti Earthquake Flash Appeal – August 2021)

2.2K+ people dead, with more expected
(Source: DGPC)

320 people still missing
(Source: DGPC)

130K damaged and destroyed homes
(Source: DGPC)


More than two weeks after the devastating 14 August earthquake, humanitarian assistance is now beginning to reach those most in need faster, facilitated by enhanced Government-led coordination and robust efforts to negotiate increased humanitarian access into hard-toreach areas. Affected communities struggling to cope with quake’s multi-faceted impact continue to receive assistance to address growing needs in emergency shelter, food, safe water and sanitation, and protection services, including measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and services for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), amid aggravated vulnerabilities and increasing risks to their physical and psychological well-being.

Preliminary rapid damage and needs assessments (EDAB) indicate that in Grand’Anse and Nippes 20.9 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively, more women than men were left without a place to live following the earthquake. This has important implications on women’s exposure to SGBV, SEA, health risks and child welfare. The collection of further sex, age and vulnerability disaggregated figures remains crucial to better understand the crisis and adapt the humanitarian response accordingly.

Despite successful access negotiations with armed groups, which permitted the passage of 13 humanitarian convoys over the past 12 days, safe and secure humanitarian access will need to be sustained in the long-term. The persistent presence of armed gangs, damaged bridges and roads rendered impassable by the quake continue to pose significant access and security constraints for Government and humanitarian actors attempting to reach those most in need. The operational context continues to hinder the delivery of life-saving assistance to affected communities, especially in rural areas close to the epicentre which have been completely cut off by the earthquake. With support from various international governments, aerial and maritime support is being provided for the delivery of relief supplies to remote and hard-to-reach areas inaccessible by land.

The combined impact of the earthquake and Tropical Depression Grace have left 650,000 thousand people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance, of which 500,000 are being targeted by UN agencies and humanitarian partners through the activities planned under the recently launched $187.3 million Flash Appeal. Based on an initial impact assessment, the Government estimates that damages from the powerful 7.2-magnitude quake exceed US$1 billion, as national authorities plan a more detailed assessment of damages, losses and post-earthquake needs in collaboration with the tripartite partnership comprised of the UN, the European Union and the World Bank as well as the Inter-American Development Bank.

As of the latest update issued on 25 August, the Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) reported 2,207 deaths, 12,268 injured and 320 missing. At least 52,953 homes have been completely destroyed while 77,006 others have suffered varying degrees of damage. Further compounding the problem is the fact that many shelters in affected areas have been destroyed or damaged, forcing displaced people to shelter at assembly points which lack basic WASH and protection services. In some of remote areas, families are constructing makeshift shelters out of salvaged materials built directly on the ground without any kind of foundation or platform, making them vulnerable to collapse due to high winds and increased rainfall, a series of risks that will only increase as the peak of the hurricane season approaches.

Damage assessments for homes and shelters must continue to be fast-tracked in order to enable the movement of families currently sheltering outside into safer temporary accommodations or back into their homes if possible, as many families whose homes are still standing are choosing to shelter elsewhere as persistent aftershocks leave them in fear of a sudden collapse. Schools are currently being assessed as alternative emergency shelter solutions for displaced people, generating concerns regarding implications related to the eventual return to school, originally set to re-open on 7 September.

Heightened insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic have kept around 4 million children out of school for months over the last two years, with the quake damaging more than 300 school infrastructures in the three most affected areas, affecting an estimated 100,000 children and teachers. Safe temporary learning spaces are urgently needed to ensure affected boys and girls can continue their education and to mitigate the risks associated with children being out of school, including forced recruitment into gangs, child trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse and early pregnancy in adolescents.

According to UNICEF, more than 119,000 people in affected areas are in urgent need of safe water, while longer-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of critical WASH infrastructure and systems, already weak and lacking coverage before the quake, remain a priority to prevent disease outbreaks, including COVID-19, and worsening malnutrition, especially among vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In health facilities, pre-existing WASH deficits have only been exacerbated by the various impacts of the earthquake, as just 60 per cent of health facilities in the Sud Department had access to basic water services prior to the quake, 59 per cent in Nippes and 52 per cent in Grand’Anse, while 33 per cent of health facilities in Nippes and 15 per cent in Sud had no water services at all. In this context, post-earthquake WASH interventions in health facilitates will be critical to prevent infections among injured people and prevent disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. The preliminary EDAB found that women are substantially more represented among health personnel in Nippes and Grand’Anse, making them disproportionally vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. This will need to be considered in COVID-19-related prevention and response campaigns.

As increasing numbers of response personnel arrive on the ground, COVID-19-related health risks continue to rise, requiring humanitarian actors to be proactive in implementing measures to ensure the protection of an extremely vulnerable population. With less than 1 per cent of Haiti’s 11 million inhabitants vaccinated against COVID-19, the population remains at high risk of COVID-19 transmission, especially considering the lack of vaccines procured – Haiti has only received 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses – and personal protection equipment (PPE) available, as affected people increasingly gather in close quarters seeking food assistance and shelter in the aftermath of the quake.

The potential introduction of more contagious and dangerous new variants yet to reach the island is of particular concern during the weeks and months following the quake, as the country’s heath system lacks the capacity to respond a COVID19 outbreak. Hospitals are overwhelmed by the large influx of injured patients and health infrastructure has suffered considerable damage, making the mainstreaming of COVID-19 considerations across response activities vital to ensuring that humanitarian action does not have unintended negative consequences on the people it seeks to help.

In such a complex response environment, characterized by access and security constraints and multiple simultaneous crises amid a global pandemic, an accountable, well-coordinated, transparent and gender-sensitive response effort must be grounded in national leadership and capitalize on local capacities, knowledge and expertise which is complimented by regional and international assistance. Humanitarian actors must aim to harness and strengthen the efforts of longstanding local response actors on the ground, especially local nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, including women’s organizations, and community leaders, and support the recovery of local economies and livelihoods through local procurement of relief supplies and gender-responsive cash-based assistance, both of which will have important multiplier effects across the economy.

An increased focus on localization in response efforts goes hand in hand with the mainstreaming of Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and effective two-way Communication with Communities (CwC), including women’s organizations, into all response and early recovery efforts. This entails meaningful community engagement and trustbuilding channelled through a transparent ongoing dialogue with affected communities, including women, youth, religious and other diverse leaders. Participatory and inclusive assessments and spaces for dialogue must be rolled out with the leadership of local organizations, including women and youth-led groups, to enable community participation in programme design, provide information on available services and how to access them, and transparently communicate the limitations of humanitarian assistance. Equally important is the establishment of system-wide collective community feedback and gender-sensitive complaint mechanisms that operate with harmonized standardized operating procedures to avoid scattered and disconnected efforts which are less efficient and therefore, place accountability and protection for affected people at risk.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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