OVERVIEW OF CRISIS
After cutting a deadly swath across the Caribbean region, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 235 km/h, violently struck south-western Haiti on 4 October causing widespread damage, flooding and displacement. The poverty level of the population in this area reaches 70 per cent. Hurricane Matthew has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake at a time when the country is already facing an increase in the number of cholera cases, and severe food insecurity and malnutrition.
Presidential elections planned on 9 October have been postponed. The country’s authorities are mounting the response operation and have appealed for international assistance. The impact of the hurricane has to be seen against the background of underlying and chronic risks and vulnerabilities throughout the country, which is highly prone to natural hazards. This appeal focuses on those immediate humanitarian needs arising from Hurricane Matthew.
Scope and magnitude of the hurricane
According to initial estimates by UNOSAT based on the track of the hurricane, more than 1.2 million people in Haiti have been exposed to winds in excess of 120 km/h in the Departments Grand’Anse, Sud and western tip of Nippes.
Winds caused significant damage to well-built framed homes removing roofs, snapping and uprooting trees. More makeshift housing were completely destroyed. The town of Jérémie (population 42,000) was very severely damaged and telecommunications were entirely disrupted across the western tip of Haiti.
Extreme rainfall, more than 200mm in less than 24 hours, occurred more to the east in and around the Golf of Gonaive.
Almost 2 million people have been exposed to extreme precipitation. The worst-hit Departments in terms of rainfall are Grand’Anse, Nippes, the western part of Sud, including the area around Les Cayes, as well as parts of Ouest and Artibonite (see map on page 4).
Particularly vulnerable to flooding are the plains around Les Cayes and those south of Gonaive, where the risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases is increasing.
In this area, the main livelihoods are small-scale farming and gardening, fishery and charcoal production. Initial areal footage indicates that agricultural and fishery assets have suffered massive damage. WFP estimates that up to 80 per cent of the harvest was lost. The situation further inland remains unclear at the time of publishing this appeal and may result in further humanitarian needs.
POPULATION PROJECTION 2015
Dept. Grand’Anse 472,788 Dept. Sud 772,601 Town of Jérémie 42,000 Les Cayes 86,780
Only 24 per cent of the population in Grand’Anse and Sud live in urban centres (Jérémie, Les Cayes). The majority are in more inaccessible rural areas. Some 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, of which 750,000 are targeted with urgent and immediate assistance in this appeal. So far, more than 300 deaths have been reported and more than 61,000 people remain displaced. According to UNICEF, 2,000 children were reportedly evacuated from residential centers. Over 300 schools have been damaged, mostly in the Grand South departments (Grand’Anse, Nippes, and South), representing over 100,000 children affected as indicated by the Ministry of Education. Accessing safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities are major challenges. Where cholera was already active, the heavy rains throughout most of the country created a very high risk of its propagation, in addition to many other waterborne diseases that could affect thousands of families and children already at risk across all of the country.
Logistics constraints:Efforts to access the worstaffected areas of Haiti, including the Grand’Anse and Sud departments, have been severely hampered by flooding, the collapse of communications networks and the destruction of vital infrastructure. Crucial roads in affected areas are slowly being restored.
Cholera: The Hurricane poses a risk of a renewed spike in the number of cholera cases due to the impact on the water infrastructure and the severe flooding. At the time of the disaster, cholera incidence rates had already surpassed those of previous years.
Gender: Forty-four per cent of Haitian families are femaleheaded households, and women represent a majority of people living in acute poverty. As such, it is critical to ensure that needs of the most vulnerable, including women and girls, are identified and prioritized. Health centers should ensure to have the capacity to provide emergency response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence as part of a multisectoral approach. Furthermore, women’s groups and leaders, especially in the Grand’Anse area, have mobilized as first responders. The response efforts will thus recognize and engage them in the coordination of the response, identifying specific needs and reaching out to affected women and girls.
According to UNFPA, more than 8,400 pregnant women are expected to give birth in the next three months and 1,200 women will need Caesarean sections. In addition, among the 1.2 million people affected by the hurricane, more than 280,000 are women of childbearing age who will need appropriate health services.
Recovery planning: The Government of Haiti has underscored the importance for response activities to include responsible recovery and disaster risk reduction, especially considering the land planning issues in the affected areas.
Limited response capacity: The number of humanitarian actors has decreased considerably since the 2010 earthquake from 512 at the peak of the response to 84 in 2016. At the time of writing this appeal, most humanitarian actors are facing financial constraints, limiting their ability to deliver.
Coordination: The Government of Haiti is leading the humanitarian response and as such remains accountable to the Haitian population with regard to the provision of life-saving and basic services and the respect of human rights. While the scope of the crisis will demand a significant scale-up in humanitarian response capacity, this Flash Appeal will be coordinated through the established sectorbased humanitarian groups in Haiti, led by the respective Government Ministries and supported by specialized UN Agencies and INGOs, under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.