Our Perspectives

Restoring lives and hopes for a better future in Haiti


Before the disaster, one million Haitians were acutely food insecure and almost half of the population was without jobs. Photo: UNDP Haiti/Guillaume Joachin

The destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has been devastating. While the full scale of the damage and needs is still being assessed, the death toll has risen to over 300 lives lost. More than 60,000 have been displaced and are living in basic shelters, and over 25,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

Behind these numbers are women and children who don’t have food anymore, as the little they had was lost, and who don’t have safe drinking water anymore because of overflowing water tanks, contamination from decaying animal carcasses and bodies washing out of cemeteries.

Behind these numbers are young people whose future has been washed away, farmers who have lost all of their livestock, their crops and the life they had built for themselves over decades.

Behind these numbers are people whose homes have been destroyed and who are now living in makeshift shelters, not able to provide for their families and depending on assistance.

They urgently need our help in restoring their lives and hopes for a better future.

UNDP has been working on the ground for over 40 years and will build on its experience and its network, working side by side with the Haitian people during the recovery phase. Our focus will be on strengthening national capacities to lead recovery efforts, supporting a participatory,  Government-led post-disaster needs assessment, and providing immediate relief and recovery support to populations in need through cash-for-work and income generating programmes. This approach is grounded in the following key considerations for a successful recovery programme:

  • Beefing up the capacity of local authorities and collectivities to lead recovery efforts is central for an inclusive and well-organized recovery process. UNDP has been working with the national lead agency on the Hurricane response, the Directorate for Civil Protection, for over 15 years and will continue to provide support and resources to ensure it can cope with the response efforts. At the same time, UNDP has already deployed experts to help the Government coordinate national and international partners striving to rebuild the country together in a concerted manner. 
  • Assessing the needs of the Haitian people across all affected areas will provide national and international response partners with detailed information and help prioritize the rebuilding work. Under the leadership of the Government, UNDP has already taken the lead for the UN system to coordinate, together with the World Bank and the European Union, a post-disaster needs assessment exercise together with other response actors.
  • Kick-starting programmes to remove debris such as fallen trees and address other public health risks, as well as restoration of livelihoods will be our central priority. UNDP will start a pilot cash-for-work-programme in Grand Goâve in the coming days, aiming to provide short term employment to hurricane affected community members. Participants of the programme will clear debris such as fallen trees to unblock roads, rebuild houses and recycle fallen trees. Going forward, we will expand this debris clearance and income generating programme to worst affect areas, realign our existing food security projects and help internally displaced people to safely return home while receiving support in rebuilding their lives.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Even before the disaster, one million Haitians were acutely food insecure and almost half of the population was without jobs. Haiti has been slowly moving toward long-term, sustainable development since the 2010 earthquake. The impact of the hurricane has put these gains severely at risk.

It will take Haiti years to recover from the impact of Hurricane Matthew. While life-saving efforts remain a priority right now, we have to make sure that we build Haiti back smarter - national and international response partners working hand in hand - ensuring that the country will rise stronger out of this disaster.  

Help us with our work in Haiti and donate today: undp.org/helpHaiti

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