“Anyone focusing on simple highly-visible solutions in Haiti is living in dreamland,” says Concern’s Bríd Kennedy Recovery has been slow, there are some grounds for optimism but “no magic wand”
Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest humanitarian and development agency, was today critical of those with unreasonable expectations regarding the pace and depth of the recovery in Haiti but struck an optimistic note ahead of the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake which struck the country on the 12th January 2010. “Anyone focusing on simple highly-visible solutions in Haiti is living in dreamland,” said Concern’s Regional Director, Bríd Kennedy. “We’ve seen some commentators and critics of the pace of the recovery zone-in purely on issues like the number of people left in camps and roadside rubble. This does an injustice to the complex history and great resilience of the people of Haiti, as well as much of the effective work done by the international community and aid agencies.” Before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with many complex historical and contemporary issues. Over three quarters of the population survived on less than $2 dollars a day. The unemployment rate was estimated at 40.6%. Ongoing climatic risks - many of them unfamiliar to Irish people’s experience of weather included seasonal battering by cyclones and hurricanes which regularly destroyed poor housing, crops and vulnerable livelihoods, as did intermittent and extended droughts. Then the earthquake struck, right at the heart of the densely-populated, and poorly-built crowded housing of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Over 217,000 people were killed. “For sure, the overall response has not been perfect and has been hit by a number of setbacks – not least a cholera outbreak, Tropical Storm Isaac and, most recently, Hurricane Sandy – but expecting Haiti to turn into some Caribbean holiday paradise is not facing the reality of what it was like before the earthquake,” added Ms Kennedy.
Of the 2.1 million people left homeless in the aftermath of the disaster, 360,000 people remain in camps, many as a result of issues over land rights. The rubble has now been largely cleared from the streets. A new government is now in place and making progress in a number of areas such as housing and schooling, taking over key areas until recently handled by NGOs. It has also taken a new key role in dealing with cholera. Ms Kennedy concluded: “Internal security issues, gender-based violence, the ruralurban population balance, the impact of droughts on crop failures and, therefore, rising food prices and food insecurity, international actors honouring in full their 2010 pledges of aid money, attracting foreign investment for jobs and stability - plus taking key actions that try to minimise the impact of future disasters - these make up just some of the complex challenges that remain. There is no magic wand here. Haitians deserve more balanced consideration of what they have achieved, and what they face.” “Concern Worldwide has been working in Haiti since 1994 and we’ll remain there for the foreseeable future supporting the government and the people on their path to recovery and the elimination of extreme poverty.”
Notes to Editors: Haiti capital: Port-au-Prince Population: 9.3 million Life expectancy: 59.5 years Literacy rate: 54.8% The earthquake struck at 22.00 GMT (4pm local time) on Tuesday 12th January 2010. The 7.0-magnitude quake hit south of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Number killed: 217, 300 (UN figure) Left homeless after earthquake: 2.1 million (UN figure)
Concern in Haiti: In 2012 Concern reached 361,818 beneficiaries
5,286 through education programmes 7,285 through FIM programmes 141,687 through health programmes 207,560 through emergency programmes
Since the earthquake in 2010 Concern has reached 598,818 people in Haiti. Activities have included:
Camp management in 13 camps and protection services in 15 spontaneous and planned settlements reached a total of 55,000 earthquake-affected individuals in the capital of Port-au-Prince Concern distributed emergency shelter supplies and other none food items to over 98,977 Concern built 1,484 transitional shelters providing temporary homes for 7,420 people Concern has supported 6,656 people to leave camps and return to communities. A further 88,955 benefitted from improvements to services in the communities. Concern has provided 80,000 people with clean water and sanitation and hygiene services 43,171 people have been provided with cash-for-work opportunities, rubble removal, drain- clearage and garbage collection in earthquake-affected camps and communities 136,463 people (children and pregnant women) have received vital health, nutritional and psycho-social support including 22,457 females and 15,993 males who received reproductive and child health support 33 schools have been supported and 5 temporary learning spaces were opened to offer educational opportunities to 11,700 children in Port au Prince. In Saut d’Eau 3 schools have been built with another 3 in progress, benefitting 2,400 students.
A peacebuilding programme directly reached 2,300 people in Port-au-Prince. Concern reached 231,000 people through cholera response, awareness and prevention activities including 81,600 first response cholera treatment kits which were distributed to 68 points in urban and rural areas to facilitate rapid response to cholera symptoms in underserved areas. Concern assisted 27,949 people to better respond to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms and floods. More than 14,000 trees were planted on the island of La Gonâve and 10,000 trees in Saut d’Eau to restore local forests and protect against erosion. In addition to this 259 of a planned 400 mango and avocado orchards have been established in the commune of Saut d’Eau. Concern provided fishing kits (made of lines, hooks, lures and other accessories to 574 fishermen and we provided cool boxes and fish sun-drying systems to 8 merchant committees representing 380 women Concern supported the creation of eighteen women’s groups in camps and communities and worked with five community-based organisations to increase their understanding of human rights and Haitian law. These organisations support orphans, single mothers, gender-based violence survivors, the disabled and the elderly. Cite example of floodlight installation to deter violence in Place de la Paix camp.
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Concern Worldwide is an international, non-governmental, humanitarian organisation dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. Concern is certified by the http://www.hapinternational.org/.