Haiti: National disaster plan promotes local community involvement

News and Press Release
Originally published
During the 20th century, Haiti was hit by more than 16 cyclones, 25 floods, 7 droughts and a disastrous earthquake. Haiti's geographic location in the Caribbean, and the ongoing political and economic crisis have been the root causes for the country's high level of vulnerability. After Hurricane Georges in 1998, where nearly 200 people were killed, UNDP, in close cooperation with other international donors, UN agencies and multilateral and bilateral donors, initiated support to the government with three main objectives:
a) The elaboration of a National Plan on Risk and Disaster management, where different actors could share a common vision on long-term objectives and challenges,

b) The establishment of an effective and decentralized Institutional National System on Risk and Disaster management, which clarifies who does what, and when,

c) Support to the implementation of a "pilot" Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which coordinates a sound and timely response to a given disaster in the country.

Despite the on-going political crisis since 1998 and three changes in government leadership, UNDP has supported the participatory process by coordinating for more than 40 organizations and institutions (including the private sector, civil society organizations, international donors and the government) to collaborate on implementing the plan. The National Plan has maximized resources and created a synergy for all actors on establishing effective systems for prevention, preparedness and participation.

Said Pablo Ruiz, Disaster Specialist for the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, "We are trying to bring all the various communities together especially at the local level. UNDP's aim is to reduce risk for future disasters including providing trainings in risk management which factors in the health, education and environmental issues of the communities themselves."

Within this context, several important achievements have been made in the last four years on strengthening institutions at the parliamentary, central and local level. Since 1999, more than 90 local participatory committees have been created and trained in high risk, low income areas outside of the capital. These committees, which include local authorities and civil society and private sector organizations, are reflecting the importance of this issue for the majority of the urban and rural Haitian population. Furthermore, national and international NGO's -such as OXFAM and World Vision- are working with local authorities in order to promote the goals of the National Plan throughout the country.

UNDP will continue to support the ongoing process through a new phase of support for the National Plan from 2003-2005 to the sum of $500,000. Several other donors including the European Commission are also committed to supporting these current initiatives.

For further information, please contact Tala Dowlatshahi, Public Information Specialist, BCPR <tala.dowlatshahi@undp.org>.