As 2011 starts, some headway was made. Statistics from the last six-month show a continuous decrease in the number of displaced persons living in camps, which went from 1.5 million in July 2010 to 810,000 on 7 January 2011. "This positive trend reveals that a certain number of victims of the earthquake found housing alternatives and can resume a more normal life" Mr. Fisher mentions. One of the factors contributing to this evolution is the construction of more than 31,500 transitional shelters, which exceeds the objective of 30,000 for 2010.
Regarding the fight against the cholera epidemic, "Today, 85 percent of the needs for cholera treatment units and cholera treatment centers are covered", Mr. Fisher notes. Human resources' capacity for cholera treatment was quickly reinforced during these past few weeks thanks to the support of the Cuban Medical Brigade and other health partners. To date, the fatality rate has decreased to 2.2 percent. But a lot more needs to be done. Prevention is as important if not more important than treatment itself. A massive national mobilization of the Haitian population - through churches and religious congregations, schools, the Red Cross and civil society organizations - is taking place but must be scaled up to disseminate prevention messages and improve hygiene habits. "Donors are responding to the government or through other channels but, unfortunately, only 25 percent of the Cholera Appeal for Haiti is financed" stresses Mr. Fisher. "Without significant support from the international community in 2011, we will not be able to maintain the same level of response."
One can also point to a number of steps forward in the path to recovery. "In collaboration with national authorities and communities, more than 300,000 people were employed through UN-supported high intensity of labour projects. Several rubble removal projects are ongoing, which will help create jobs in the communities affected by the earthquake, hereby facilitating the return of displaced populations to their neighborhood of origin. With more than 388,000 houses inspected, the structural assessment carried out by the Ministry of Public Works with UN support, is 90 percent completed. The earthquake macro-zoning of Port-au-Prince has been finalized, an essential tool for risk-sensitive urban planning. The great majority of children who were in school before the quake are now back in school.
However, "for the most part, this progress is barely visible to Haitians. Challenges in 2011 remain huge", says Mr. Fisher. "It is essential to accelerate the return or the voluntary relocation of displaced populations, to strengthen protection measures against sexual violence experienced by women and girls, to undertake difficult structural reforms, such as the one related to land tenure, and to create long-term economic opportunities for the poorest".
These efforts will have to be undertaken in a context of political transition following the ongoing electoral process. Ten months after the New York Donors Conference, more than 60 percent of the funds pledged for reconstruction have been disbursed. But donors must continue to fulfill their commitments so that the government and development partners can accelerate Haiti's recovery in 2011, according to the strategic priorities of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. These commitments depend on a number of factors: a credible result from the elections, a smooth transition process towards a new government, the visibility of recovery efforts and the continued support of the international community to Haiti's reconstruction and long-term development. At the same time, humanitarian imperatives remain: to fight the cholera epidemic, to ensure the basics for displaced people still living in camps and to prepare for another cyclone season. Haiti faces another challenging year ahead.
Office of the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator