The Red Cross is warning that housing repairs and reconstruction in Haiti must speed up, as hundreds of thousands of people still live in camps two years after an earthquake devastated the country.
Haiti’s worst earthquake in two centuries hit the capital Port-au-Prince and nearby areas on 12 January 2010. It killed over 200,000 people and left around 1.5 million people homeless.
Today, although over 100,000 families have accessed improved shelter over the last year – with the Red Cross alone reaching around 25,000 families – hundreds of thousands of people still need to be rehoused.
“Progress has accelerated in the last twelve months,” said Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery manager. “While that is encouraging, it is important to address the issues around availability of land and appropriate housing stock to maintain momentum.”
“Around 500,000 people have actually left the camps and moved to improved living conditions, which is very positive."
Demand for shelter is outstripping supply
“The problem Haiti faces now is that demand for shelter is outstripping supply – at the moment there aren’t enough appropriate places for the people moving out of the camps to live in,” said Alastair Burnett.
Large scale camp decongestion programmes in Port au Prince have helped families to leave camps, and the Red Cross and others are working to help displaced communities return to some semblance of normal life.
The British Red Cross still has a large presence in Haiti, dealing with both the earthquake’s aftermath and the underlying poverty and vulnerability which existed even before 12 January 2010.
British Red Cross teams have given people grants so they can rent accommodation and rebuild their livelihoods. They have also trained building masons, given local people information on creating safer homes, and installed hundreds of showers and toilets.
“Our teams are not simply trying to provide improved shelter for families, but also trying to improve the broader community living environment where we are working - so looking at how issues such as waste management, drainage and lighting for example can be addressed to improve people's quality of life,” added Alastair Burnett.
“There simply aren’t enough rental properties available and our programmes will slow down in the coming months unless more is done,” said Eduard Tschan, head of delegation for the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent in Haiti.
“The Red Cross is increasing its shelter commitments to reach 37,000 families, with a particular focus on rental support and housing repairs and we urge others to do the same.”