Haiti: 3 months after Hurricane Matthew, 7 years after the earthquake

11 Jan 2017 by Yvonne Helle, Country Director, UNDP Haiti

The road to recovery is a long one. UNDP provides conditions for long-term recovery, resilience and sustainable development. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Hurricane Matthew was the first Category 4 storm to landfall in Haiti in 52 years, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the country since the 2010 earthquake. At least 546 people died and the lives of 2.2 million people were affected. Of course, key infrastructure was damaged: in some areas, 90 per cent of homes were destroyed. Farming, fishing and small scale commercial activities were severely hit, depriving people of livelihoods and income. For instance, the Grand’Anse and Sud departments have seen 70 and 100 per cent of crops being destroyed. Three months after the disaster, people in the most affected areas still need immediate help to meet their basic needs, and, not less urgently, access to new opportunities to make a sustainable living. While the humanitarian response is still gathering pace, rehabilitation and recovery must also start immediately to reduce dependence on relief. Drawing on the lessons of the 2010 earthquake, our post-Matthew response was designed and is being implemented in close partnership with national and local authorities. Here is a snapshot of what UNDP has done since October … Read more

Why I have hope for my country, Haiti

20 Dec 2016 by Barbara Calixte, Project Manager, Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

My name is Barbara Calixte. I want to tell you about my people, the Haitian people and why we have hope for our country. I joined UNDP after the 2010 earthquake. Seeing such extensive destruction and damage, I knew I wanted to help rebuild my country. With reputation of working hand-in-hand with the Haitian people, UNDP was, for me, an ideal place. It was without a doubt one of the most important decisions of my life. After the earthquake, UNDP supported the government in relief and recovery work. We empowered communities to rebuild smarter and strengthened their ability to respond to future disasters. We talked to people who lost practically everything but who still had pride, will and hope that Haiti could get back on its feet. … Read more

Early recovery in Haiti: Localize the relief effort to avoid the aid dependency trap

04 Nov 2016 by Bruno Lemarquis, Deputy Director, Crisis Response Unit, UNDP

A crisis response led by the Haitian people and government lowers the risk of vulnerable people becoming dependent on international assistance. Photo: Andrea Ruffini/UNDP Haiti
Exactly one month ago, Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in Haiti. More than 1.4 million people still need assistance; more than 140,000 people have been displaced and in some areas crops were completely wiped out. The disaster has left people living in makeshift shelters, unable to provide for their families and dependent on assistance. After the first few initial critical weeks of the disaster, two lessons stand out: the need to localize crisis response and the importance of a quick transition to early recovery. I led UNDP’s immediate response after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and I can see that the Government has built on many lessons learned. National institutions have insisted that this should be a Haiti-led response, from the local to the national level, and interim President Jocelerme Privert made clear from the start that early recovery was a priority. a … Read more

Restoring lives and hopes for a better future in Haiti

10 Oct 2016 by Yvonne Helle, United Nations Development Programme Country Director, 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 … Read more

“Are you okay? What are you doing for Haiti?”

10 Oct 2016 by Rita Sciarra, Head of Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

 UNDP projects in the South region helped local authorities to decide where to relocate evacuees before the hurricane. Photo: UNDP Haiti
The sun is shining today in Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti. Looking at such a blue sky, I wonder at the force of nature that, in less than 36 hours, it can come and destroy everything. It was impossible to imagine in the quiet of the night before Matthew’s arrival or in the colour of the sky today that it could have had such devastating consequences. My thoughts are racing between the latest data from my colleagues in the Emergency Civil Protection Centre and the need to urgently intervene and help the people of the Nippes, South and Grande Anse regions. I am thinking about my recent training on emergency situations, my past experiences, in theory and practice. Together with the directors of the office and other colleagues, we try to come up with, in a few words, our strategy for working on Haiti’s recovery in order build a bridge to development right from the first emergency interventions. In Jeremie, 90 percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed. The roofs have blown away together with most of the trees, and now everything is scattered on the ground throughout the streets of the city. We see bodies of dead animals, remains of latrines and graveyards that have been destroyed. … Read more

For a young Haitian, hope beyond the earthquake

12 Jan 2016 by Alejandro Pacheco, Strategic Advisor for UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean

young manOriental was born in a slum area of Port au Prince. Before the earthquake hit, life had already hit him hard. Photo: Raul de la Fuente/Kanaki Films
Oriental Meliance was born in Haiti in 1990. When he was 10 years old, world leaders agreed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Oriental was among the 2 billion poor worldwide classified as living on less than US$1.25 a day. By the time he turned 25 in 2015, the world had halved the number of poor. These huge numbers eclipse the real faces of people, like Oriental. … Read more

Haiti at a turning point

16 Jul 2015 by Hervé Ladsous and Jessica Faieta

Elections 2011 in Haiti.Elections in 2011 in Haiti, where there has been significant progress in restoring confidence in the political process. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Haiti will reach a major historic milestone this summer. Starting 9 August, some six million Haitians will choose 1,280 representatives for local administrations, 140 mayors, 139 Parliamentarians and finally, their President, in several rounds of electoral processes that could last until the end of the year. It has not been easy to arrive at this moment. The Haitian people have been waiting three years for these elections. A Parliament has been absent since January. Haiti has made significant strides to restore confidence in the political process and to hold these elections on time. The electoral council, appointed in January, has been impressive in taking on several challenging technical, logistical and financial tasks aiming to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent process. … Read more

In Haiti, a neighbourhood converts ideas into innovation and opportunities

26 May 2015 by Rita Sciarra, Head of the Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

Forty initiatives were selected and an initial capital of US$500 to $1,500 was awarded, so they could transform their "idea" into a reality. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Fort National is a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood of Puerto Príncipe, a neighbourhood identified with high crime rates, violence, and large numbers of weapons. The mere mention of its name sets off alarm bells, warning you "Do not enter". In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. … Read more

Haiti: What does it take to transition from humanitarian needs to long-term development?

13 Mar 2015 by Sophie de Caen, Senior Country Director, Haiti

 Haitians set up impromtu tent cities through the capital after an earthquake measuring 7 plus on the Richter scale rocked Port au Prince in 2010. Photo: Logan Abassi/UN
Haiti has come a long way since the earthquake shook the country five years ago. In spite of the immense challenges, Haiti has made notable progress in health and education, as the Government of Haiti-UNDP Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Report shows. Today the country also has a more risk-informed approach to development, with more retaining walls, safer housing, and simulation exercises for better preparedness. National efforts, supported by both humanitarian and development assistance, have clearly made an impact. But a much bigger impact is needed.   Prior to the earthquake, there were several grave development challenges, including poverty (which today stands at 60 percent of the population). Building standards were poor and houses were built in risk prone areas. With such fragility, the consequences of a small earthquake would be dreadful.   But instead, a huge earthquake struck one of the most vulnerable areas—and hit the poorest hardest. Haiti can prevent future tragedies.  This entails working on priority issues such as education, health, employment, social protection, environment and, importantly, climate change and disaster resilience. This week, the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and partners launched a Transitional Appeal (TAP) seeking US$401 million for the next two years, focusing on boosting resilience … Read more

Five years on, Haiti builds back better

12 Jan 2015 by Sophie de Caen, Senior Country Director, UNDP Haiti

(Photo: UNDP/Haiti)
Five years after the earthquake that devastated the country, Haiti celebrates major development gains while acknowledging that immense challenges still remain. In spite of the political and structural fragility, social and economic progress is evident. Like many countries, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have galvanized positive action in Haiti. The country has steadily boosted the net enrollment rate in primary education from 47 percent in 1993 to 88 percent in 2011 and achieved equal participation of boys and girls. The number of underweight children under five years old has been halved, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has stabilized, and nearly 70 percent of households now have access to an improved source of water. Clearly, however, much remains to be done. Six million Haitians (60 percent of the population) still live on less than $2.50 a day. And while women head almost 50 percent of households, they hold only 4 percent of parliamentary seats. Deforestation and the loss of biodiversity are also continuing challenges, and the condition of poor urban slums, which house at least 62 percent of city dwellers, remains worrisome. Yet, despite these challenges, Haiti’s progress must be commended. First, this progress takes place in spite of the devastating 2010 earthquake … Read more