Humanitarian action in Haiti over the last three years has helped improve the lives of over 1.5 million Haitians. Almost three years after the devastating earthquake in 2010 that cost the lives of 217,300 people and left 2.1 million homeless, humanitarian action has accomplished significant tangible results. From 2010 to 2012, humanitarian actors ensured adequate services to the 1.5 million displaced after the earthquake and helped return or relocate 77% of these people out of camps. The number of people newly affected by the cholera epidemic has been considerably reduced and mortality rates lowered to 1.2%. National capacities to prepare for and respond to future emergencies have also been strengthened.
Despite these improvements, significant humanitarian needs remain that require a sustained humanitarian engagement. Despite the progress made in the last years, Haiti is still confronted with a number of critical needs that national capacities alone cannot resolve. Of particular concern is the deteriorating food security situation affecting at least 2.1 million people which risks evolving into a nutritional crisis if no preventive interventions are carried out. Today, 81,600 children under five are acutely malnourished; 20,000 of these suffer severe acute malnutrition and are nine times more likely to die than healthy children. Among internally displaced people, 358,000 remain in camps facing deteriorating living conditions and increased vulnerability to protection incidents. They are in urgent need of return solutions. There are recurring localized peaks of cholera whilst reduced prevention and curative capacities endanger the country’s ability to ensure adequate responses. Large segments of the population face continuous vulnerability due to their limited capacity to withstand external shocks, particularly those related to the natural disasters.
Humanitarian funding and capacities have been reduced drastically in the last year whilst national capacities remain fragile. Despite the needs outlined above, the funding gap is widening. From the US$1.1 billion received in the aftermath of the earthquake, humanitarian funding for 2012 decreased to $62 million, which is only 42% of the humanitarian requirements identified. Whilst increased efforts are being made to use available reconstructions and development funds to meet residual humanitarian needs, significant gaps remain requiring prompt action on the basis of humanitarian principles.
The costs of a premature disengagement are too high and endanger the hard-won gains attained so far. The dramatic decline in humanitarian funding puts at risk the important gains achieved to date and the mechanisms established to respond to existing needs and potential new ones. These risks include a possible nutritional crisis if food insecurity is not addressed; a resurgence in the number of victims of cholera and an increase in mortality rates; a deterioration in the living conditions of people in camps; an increase in the incidence of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and diphtheria; and a surge in the number of people affected by old and new disasters.
Humanitarian assistance is still needed to capitalize on recent progress and act as a safety net in the event of future shocks. The recent storms Isaac and Sandy highlighted the fragility of national emergency response capacities and the continuous need for international support to respond to new crises. A concerted effort to capitalize on the work deployed to date is needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and help the government build its capacities to respond to future emergencies.
The Humanitarian Action Plan 2013 aims to assist one million people identified as the most vulnerable. $144 million in international assistance is required to support the implementation of the plan. A significant new element in the HAP is the major focus on addressing food insecurity (34% of total funding sought). Unlike previous CAPs, the HAP only focuses on critical priorities and does not include all sectors of intervention.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.