Haiti has made remarkable progress to recover from the multiple shocks suffered in the last few years: 89% of the displaced population from the 2010 earthquake have left the camps; the incidence of cholera has been reduced by over 50% since the outbreak in 2010 and severe food insecurity has been brought down from 1.5 million affected people in early 2013 to 600,000 in October 2013. Advances were also made with regards to some of the MDGs: infant mortality rates have been reduced to 59 per 1,000 live births; and primary school enrolment has increased from 49.6% in 2006 to 77% in 2012. Such progress was only possible thanks to concerted national and international efforts.
This notwithstanding, critical needs and acute vulnerabilities remain across the country requiring life and livelihood-saving interventions. An estimated 30% of Haiti’s ten million people are still suffering from the impact of both chronic and acute needs. Of these, an estimated 817,000 people (or 8,3% of the overall population) in 35 communes in the country are expected to require assistance in 2014. This compares to the 1.5 million people identified in 2013.
Identifying solutions for the remaining displaced population is becoming more complex. An estimated 145,000 people remain displaced in camps at the end of 2013. Whilst return and relocation programmes have facilitated solutions for over 60,000 families since the 2010 earthquake, alternative, medium-term solutions need to be supported, including programmes to increase the housing stock, supporting livelihoods and income generating activities as well as on-site integration of IDPs where possible. Meanwhile, greater efforts are needed to meet the basic protection needs and services of people remaining in camps, in particular, for women and children who constitute the majority of displaced populations. An increased understanding is required of the living conditions of communities around IDP camps who also face extreme poverty and hard living conditions to ensure a complementarity of approaches between humanitarian interventions in camps and development programmes in adjacent neighborhoods.
Despite a significant decrease in the overall number of cholera-related deaths, Haiti still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases.School feeding, Haiti , Credit: MINUSTAH Cholera in Haiti remains an epidemic and a humanitarian crisis. Whilst durable solutions need to be pursued to address root causes, life-saving activities are still necessary to cut the transmission of the disease and ensure adequate care is provided to affected populations. The geographical spread of alerts in areas where access is difficult and health facilities are lacking is making treatment and timely response more difficult requiring greater resources for treatment, rapid response and prevention activities.
While food security has improved in 2013 to levels similar to pre-2012 drought and hurricane shocks, the situation remains precarious. Even as the number of people living in food insecurity is reduced by half from early 2013 through the end of the year, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition amongst children below five years has increased from 5.1 % in 2012 (EMMUS) to 6.5% in 2013 (ESSAN). Haiti continues to face huge structural challenges, which leave the country very exposed to recurrent food security crises. The prevalence of poverty, the high degradation of the environment and limited government capacities to monitor, prevent and respond are factors contributing to the fragility of the situation. The slightest shock can result in a rapid deterioration of people’s food security and nutrition status. Short-term interventions are needed to protect livelihoods and reduce acute malnutrition, but linkages need to be strengthened with longer-term programmes which address the structural dimensions of food insecurity.
A better understanding of structural vulnerabilities requiring humanitarian interventions is needed.
Humanitarian actors in Haiti have a good understanding of acute needs resulting from the various shocks the country has experienced. To date, various surveys confirm that people in need are those affected by recent shocks. Widespread and stubborn poverty, low human development and high gender inequalities in country, give rise to concerns with regard to extreme vulnerabilities caused by structural development challenges, particularly with regards to the specific needs of women, girls and boys. An improved gender-sensitive understanding of both acute and chronic vulnerabilities is required to guide future humanitarian, recovery and development action. To this end, a multi-dimensional vulnerability analysis is underway which will improve our understanding of some of these concerns.
Improved linkages are needed between humanitarian, recovery and development interventions. Haiti is at a stage where the difference between chronic and acute vulnerabilities dissipates, where traditional humanitarian interventions meet their limits and where sustainable solutions to meet residual humanitarian needs are needed. An improved dialogue between the humanitarian and development communities is required to arrive at a shared analysis of priorities to deploy integrated and modulated responses that could provide durable solutions to people in need. Yet, the reduction in humanitarian partners and interventions has not been matched by any comparable degree with increased engagement from development partners.
The Government of Haiti is taking greater leadership in coordinating humanitarian efforts. The transition process initiated in 2012 that devolved leadership of humanitarian coordination efforts from internationally led clusters to national authorities has yielded results in a number of areas. The National Coordination for Food Security, for example, has led on-going efforts to analyze priorities and define strategies in the food security sector in collaboration with humanitarian actors. Similar efforts have been carried out by the country’s water and sanitation authority (DINEPA’s Department for Emergency Response) with regards to WASH interventions. Child Protection-related issues are now being addressed as part of the regular agenda of the Child Protection Working Group chaired by the national Welfare and Research Institute (IBESR). The Directorate of Civil Protection is leading all national and international preparedness and emergency response efforts, with humanitarian actors in a supporting role. Other priority areas, however, have faced certain challenges to complete the transition requiring the continuation of some clusters in 2014.
A shift in the approach of humanitarian action since 2013 has been made towards greater support to national efforts. In recognition of increased government leadership and in view of building the necessary national capacities to respond to possible future emergencies, humanitarian actors active in Haiti have shifted their modus operandi from direct service delivery to a more supportive role to national actors and efforts. Humanitarian action is becoming more focused on critical needs, more mobile and delivered in greater partnership with national actors including women’s organizations advocating for the rights of women and disabled persons.
The 2014 Haiti Humanitarian Action Plan aims at addressing critical humanitarian needs and strengthening national capacities. To achieve this goal, the HAP is articulated around four strategic outcomes: 1) meet the immediate needs of remaining displaced people and securing appropriate solutions;2) reduce cholera transmission and the fatality rates through rapid response and prevention; 3) protect the lives and livelihoods of people affected by food insecurity and rehabilitating children suffering from severe malnutrition; 4) strengthen national capacities to coordinate the response to actual and future humanitarian needs. Cross-cutting issues, such as protection, are mainstreamed across the four key priorities. Tackling these four areas during 2014 would make a difference for hundreds of thousands of people and could significantly reduce the need for humanitarian interventions beyond the year.
$169 million in international assistance is required to support the implementation of the plan. Requirements this year are slightly higher than last year given the need for increased efforts to end displacement. Half of the requirements are intended to seek solutions and provide basic services for 100% of the remaining IDPs in camps. A further $40 million is required for health and WASH needs related to the cholera epidemic. The remaining needs pertain to food security, nutrition, protection, as well as minimum preparedness activities required to face a potential disaster.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.