Haiti aid now reaching most survivors but key needs remain

12/02/2010

One month after the devastating earthquake in Haiti the survivors’ urgent needs for medical care, food and clean water are increasingly being met. The need for more emergency shelter, and latrines to help prevent the spread of diseases, remain urgent priorities.

The latest estimated death toll issued by the Government of Haiti stands at 230,000 people, with 300,000 believed to have been injured and 1.2m needing emergency shelter.

UK members of the Disasters Emergency Committee and their partners have played an important role in establishing 59 hospitals in Port au Prince which have increasingly treated the injuries resulting from the earthquake and are now shifting their focus to the other urgent medical needs of the population. A total of 1.1m people have received a two week dry food ration through the UN World Food Programme supported by DEC members, which are also among the agencies helping provide clean water to more than 750,000 people a day.

These efforts have been supported by the incredible generosity of the UK public who have now donated a staggering total of £77m to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Fundraising efforts have now been boosted by the release of the fastest selling single of the century - Everybody Hurts produced by Simon Cowell to support charities in Haiti.

However, very significant needs still remain unmet. Nearly 1000 emergency latrines have so far been provided but this is only sufficient for 47,000 people. Vastly more toilets are urgently needed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Although sufficient tents and tarpaulins have been distributed for over a quarter of a million people, emergency shelter remains a critical need. Many more survivors still have only improvised shelter and most are living in informal rather than organised camps. The agencies focusing on shelter are working to an extremely simple goal “shelter before the rains” which are due to begin in earnest from April.

Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee Brendan Gormley said:

“The UK public can be proud of the emergency work they have already helped fund through the DEC. The challenges remain enormous, particularly in the crucial areas of emergency shelter and the provision of latrines.”

“Because of the great generosity shown by those who are continuing to support the Haiti Earthquake Appeal the DEC will be able to support over the coming three years a very significant share of the rebuilding work. Homes, schools, health clinics and essential services such as water and sewerage must all be replaced or provided.”

“This rebuilding work, though urgent, must not be rushed. We must listen to and involve the people of Haiti in helping their capital rise again from the ruins. We must ensure the permanent rebuilding we do leaves them safer from future disasters and better off than they were.”

Early logistical challenges that have hampered the aid effort are increasingly being overcome. Landing slots for aircraft at Port au Prince’s congested airport are increasingly available, the port is now able to process 350 containers a day despite sustaining significant damage, but congestion at the road border from the Dominican Republic remains a serious concern.

The worldwide lack of suitable tents has led agencies involved in shelter to focus their efforts on providing shelter materials such as tarpaulins and plastic sheeting. Survivors can use these both for emergency shelter and in constructing more durable temporary shelters for themselves.

The next rainy season in Haiti is due to start in April and last until June, when the hurricane season begins.

Details of the latest activities of all DEC members can be found here.

To stay up to date with the emergency response in Haiti follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

Notes to editors

  • Some of the emergency staff who led the first phase of our members’ response in Haiti are now beginning to return to the UK and are available for briefings and broadcast interviews.
  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ and mail to: PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA. Donations can be made at www.dec.org.uk or 0370 60 60 900.
  • To donate at any high street bank or Post Office quote Freepay 1449.
  • Text “GIVE” to 70077 to give £5 to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. £5 goes to the DEC. You pay £5 plus the standard network SMS rate.
  • The DEC consists of: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision.
  • Unless otherwise stated all figures regarding the aid effort in Haiti are based on the updates provided by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs which can be found here http://reliefweb.int