The story of Haiti’s devastating January 2010 earthquake is far from over.As steady progress toward recovery continues, much of the emergency response is now transitioning to longer-term recovery. With the confirmation of a new Prime Minister in October 2011, it is hoped that one of the most significant challenges to recovery – the lack of a fully functional government – will also improve. As CARE’s earthquake response program makes the transition away from emergency relief to a longer-term approach, our focus is on facilitating the return of displaced people from camps to more permanent communities – such as the neighborhood of Modsol, Léogâne.
The task of rebuilding has been slowed by the fact that, before the quake, Haiti’s economy and public services were overwhelmingly centered in the overcrowded capital city of Port-au-Prince. The new government is pursuing an urgently-needed agenda of decentralization but it will require long-term investment in economic opportunities in rural areas.
An evolving strategy for the decongestion of camps for displaced people recognizes that many of those who remain in the camps are among the most vulnerable and have the fewest options for finding permanent housing. Efforts are underway by CARE and other aid agencies to shift the provision of services to neighborhoods in order to minimize the incentive to remain in the camps. As of the end of September 2011 an estimated 550,560 Haitians were still living in camps. This is still a huge number but represents a decrease of about two-thirds from the peak of about 1.5 million people immediately after the quake.
Other ongoing challenges to Haitians’ pursuit of a stable future include a high rate of sexual and gender-based violence and the country’s extremely weak educational infrastructure. Even before the earthquake, more than 500,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 did not attend school. A large percentage of families relied on private schools of inconsistent quality.
The country is still grappling with the impact of a large-scale cholera outbreak, which struck in October 2010. According to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Health on November 30, 2011, there have been 516,699 cholera cases and 6,942 deaths reported. While the crisis has stabilized thanks to the response of government and humanitarian agencies, Haitians now face the threat of endemic cholera, particularly during rainy seasons and in places with inadequate water and sanitation and poor public awareness of good hygiene practices.
Over the past two years since the earthquake, CARE has implemented a large-scale immediate and longer-term response thanks to many generous donors. Affected people have benefited from CARE’s work in shelter, safe water and sanitation, psychosocial support, livelihood opportunities and education. On their behalf, we offer our sincere thanks for your generosity.