Nearing the two-year anniversary of Haiti’s deadly earthquake, Christian aid agency World Vision calls upon the international community to fulfil its commitments in supporting the government of Haiti and the Haitian people.
“Responding to a disaster in the context of Haiti has had its unique challenges,” said Jean-Claude Mukadi, World Vision’s National Director in Haiti. “This response has been one of the largest and most difficult undertakings for the aid community. At the same time, the people of Haiti are resilient and hopeful. We will stand alongside them as they transition from managing this crisis to building a better future for themselves and their families.”
Mukadi acknowledged, however, that Haiti’s success depends on more than the work of international aid agencies.
“Haiti has struggled in its development for decades,” said Mukadi. “Relief and development efforts are not enough to help Haiti create sustainable development for its people. The international community has committed nearly $4.6 billion (USD) in support, but has only fulfilled 43 per cent of its collective commitment to the Haitian people. That support, as well as clarity and leadership from the Government of Haiti, will be critical for Haiti’s success. The international community must not abandon Haiti now.”
World Vision has been active in development work in Haiti for more than 30 years, and its presence there enabled the organisation’s staff to be some of the first on the ground to help with relief after the earthquake – responding within hours. World Vision maintained a robust earthquake response program, despite challenges that included the following:
inadequate infrastructure in place before the disaster, including limited access to safe water and sanitation
lack of clarity in land ownership, which delayed the building of homes and transitional shelters
lack of clear government strategy due in part to transition in leadership and loss from the quake difficulty in disaster response in an urban area already suffering from overpopulation
a cholera outbreak in October 2010, which affected some half million people and has resulted in some 6,700 deaths
As of September 2011, World Vision’s earthquake response efforts have included the following accomplishments:
Management and coordination of some 27 displacement camps
Food security programming (including school lunch programs and food distributions) to more than 2.5 million people
Clean water to hundreds of thousands of people
Education and play opportunities for more than 7,000 children
2,700 transitional shelters provided for almost 14,000 people
In addition to its earthquake response, World Vision also responded to the October 2010 cholera outbreak with treatment measures such as access to clean water, water storage containers, water purification tablets, cholera treatment centers and education for prevention and treatment of the disease.
“We are gratified by the progress of our cholera education programme, which has already reached around 200,000 people,” said Dr Lesly Michaud, who leads World Vision’s health programme in Haiti. “This is helping ensure not just short-term relief but also long-term benefits for disease prevention in the area.”
As of September 2011, World Vision had spent nearly 90 per cent of the funds raised for its earthquake response and will likely complete its response program during the second quarter of 2012. However, the organisation continues to engage in transitional work, helping families move from displacement camps into transitional and permanent homes and will continue its long-term community development work in areas outside of Port au Prince.
“This is not a time to back down, but rather a time to step up,” said Mukadi. “Those who have committed to partnering with the Haitian people to build a better future need to fulfil their commitments. Poverty beleaguered Haiti even before the earthquake, and with the disaster recovery phase now winding down, it's an opportune time to envision and work toward a stronger future for children, their families and communities of Haiti.”
For more information on World Vision’s earthquake and cholera response programmes, please see the report, “Two Years On: Haiti Earthquake Response.”