More than one year after Hurricane Matthew made landfall, the humanitarian situation in Haiti remains challenging. The country is affected by cholera outbreaks, food insecurity, malnutrition, migration and natural disasters. In 2017, more than 13,747 suspected cholera cases and 159 deaths were reported by the Ministry of Public Health and Population. Increase in funding in 2016 enabled UNICEF to strengthen efforts such as through the increase in, and improved training of, rapid response teams, which contributed to the decline in number of cases to the lowest since the epidemic began. However, cholera remains a serious threat and prevention and control efforts must continue in 2018. At least 45 per cent of the population do not have access to an improved water source, 31 per cent practice open defecation, and 75 per cent do not have access to a hand washing facility with soap (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report). According to the new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis, 1.3 million people are food insecure, and communal SMART surveys indicate the existence of pockets of malnutrition in the department of Grand’Anse. Haiti is frequently exposed to natural disasters, with hurricanes and heavy rains threatening the lives and livelihoods of the population every year. Although Haiti was largely spared the impacts of powerful category 5 hurricanes that hit the Caribbean in 2017, heavy rains caused flooding in five out of ten departments.
Main achievements in 2017 include:
• UNICEF reached nearly 1.1 million people with awareness raising activities on cholera prevention, 73,000 homes were disinfected, and 87 per cent of all cholera cases identified were responded to within 48 hours through 14,053 reported interventions.
• Over 1.2 million persons were provided with safe water through water treatment, water trucking or chlorination points, and more than 450,000 people were sensitised on emergency hygiene practices.
• Close to 12,000 children under five were treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), approximately 9,500 for Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), and over 40,000 children of 6-23 months were provided with micronutrient powders.
• More than 23,000 children under one received emergency vaccinations, 1,322 mobile medical units provided health services to over 157,000 individuals, and 146 cold chain systems were installed as planned.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
UNICEF in 2017 continued to respond to the needs of populations affected by hurricane Matthew, as well as those affected by ongoing crises including (i) cholera, (ii) protection, such as migration-related issues, (iii) drought, food insecurity and malnutrition, (iv) infant morbidity and mortality. The rainy season began in April, and developed into a high-risk hurricane season that started in August, lasting until November, creating adverse conditions throughout the country. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded up to 17 storms in the region, among which two major ones, Maria and Irma, of category 5 and 4 respectively, that passed North of Haiti.
Despite such adverse conditions, there has been no significant increase in the number of suspected cases of cholera in affected areas. The disease has remained controlled at around 262 suspected cases per week nationwide throughout the year (13,747 in total), as UNICEF and partners strengthened surveillance, coordination and alert-response mechanism. While small pockets of outbreaks remain active in North-West, Artibonite and Centre departments, 2017 ended with the lowest incidence since the beginning of the epidemic thanks to the significant work done by UNICEF and its partners.
2017 has seen many important changes that affected UNICEF’s operational environment including a new government installed following elections at the Presidential, Legislative and Municipal levels. The transition period has seen some turbulence, including protests related to the arrest of Senator-elect Guy Philippe in Grand’Anse, and continued protests over the publication of the National budget in October-November 2017. The UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) came to an end and was replaced in October 2017 by a smaller follow-up mission, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUSJUSTH) with no military component, and a mandate to focus its efforts on the rule of law and governance.