NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–7 January 2011 – One year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, more than 1 million people – 380,000 of them children – still live in crowded camps despite extraordinary relief efforts by Haitians and the international community, according to a United Nations report issued today.
“We have seen results in the past year, but significant gaps remain and much more must be done,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Haiti Representative Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans said of her agency’s report, “Children in Haiti: One Year After – The long road from relief to recovery,” stressing that the recovery process is just beginning.
“Haiti poses huge institutional and systemic issues that predated the earthquake, and that require more than an emergency response to resolve,” she added of the 12 January 2010 tragedy, noting that 4 million children in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere continue to suffer from inequitable access to water, sanitation, healthcare, and education services and protection from disease, exploitation, and unsanitary conditions.
“This places even more emphasis on the need for organizations such as UNICEF to focus on developing and reinforcing structural interventions that will adequately prepare this country and its inhabitants for the future.”
Water, sanitation and hygiene were on the decline prior to the quake, with only 19 per cent of people having access to basic sanitation facilities in 2006, down from 29 per cent in 1990. UNICEF provided more than 11,300 latrines serving over 800,000 people. Every day, over 600 latrines are desludged as part of ongoing efforts to maintain safe sanitation standards.
Immediately after the quake, UNICEF, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and partners conducted emergency campaigns immunizing 2 million children against preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, and measles. Some 360,000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed to over 163,000 households in the malaria-endemic southern coastal regions.
At the height of the emergency response, UNICEF and partners trucked a daily average of 8.3 million litres of safe water to some 680,000 people. With the ongoing cholera outbreak that erupted in October, UNICEF is providing more than 10.9 tons of chlorine and over 45 million water purification tablets to ensure safe water for 3 million people in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and surrounding towns.
As of 29 December, 3,481 people had died of cholera and over 157,000 cases had been reported, according to Haitian Health Ministry statistics. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today that the epidemic threatens 2.2 million school children due to the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities in schools throughout the country.
Overall the quake affected 1.5 million children and 63,000 pregnant women, UNICEF said. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is currently reaching close to 2 million people with various aid programmes, including hot school meals for over 1 million children every day and cash-for-work programmes and nutrition.
The $1.5 billion quake relief appeal launched by the UN and its partners has been funded to 72 per cent at the end of 2010, while the $174 million cholera emergency appeal launched in late 2010 is only 25 per cent funded, OCHA spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told a news briefing in Geneva today. It is vital to reach a level of funding above 25 per cent in 2011, she said.