UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report (Haiti)

  • Posted on: 3 February 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is very active in Haiti, particularly in the sectors of  water/sanitation and nutrition.   UNICEF recently released their annual Humanitarian Action Report.  It is intended for donors, but if you are interested in knowing what UNICEF did in Haiti during 2008 and seeks to accomplish in 2009, this is a good place to start.  The Haiti section is copied below.


The storms and hurricanes that affected 800,000 people, including 300,000 children, in August and September 2008,  combined with the food prices riots earlier in the year, plunged Haiti in one of its worst humanitarian situations over the last  decade, making the country even more dependent on external aid to preserve the already fragile social and political stability.


With the funds raised, UNICEF’s emergency programme will focus mainly on improving the nutritional situation of about  25,000 women and children in a context where 24 per cent of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition, and 9 per cent from acute malnutrition. In order to reduce the effect of diarrhoea on child mortality, the programme will also aim at improving access to drinking-water sources, hygiene and sanitation facilities for about 400,000 people, as well as providing access to education and protection for over 100,000 children.


Over the year 2008, the already dire situation facing the poorest country in the western hemisphere has been compounded  by a series of threats ranging from the overturn of Government on 12 April after a week of riots over high food prices, nearly four months of stalemates with no official approved Government to the huge devastation caused by an unprecedented row of four tropical storms and hurricanes (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike). The 2008 storms and hurricanes have affected   165,337 families or nearly 800,000 people, including some 300,000 children, and with death toll amounting to nearly 800.


In addition, 22,702 houses were totally destroyed and 84,625 partially damaged. The few existing basic social services  were severely damaged. Across the country, 964 schools were reported either totally or partially destroyed leaving nearly 217,000 schoolchildren directly affected and facing hard conditions to return to schools in a context where nearly400,000 school-aged children (around 15 per cent of the total number of children) had no access to education before. Sixty per cent of the damaged schools are government-owned. In a context where the public offer of schools is less than 20 per cent and school fees are high, critical numbers of children from destitute families could be even more denied of their right to education.


Because of the 2008 storms and hurricanes, the little that many Haitians were living with in the most affected areas was  wiped out and turned almost to nothing leaving children even more exposed to higher risks of exploitation, neglect and abuses in a country where already more than 4 in 10 children (1.62 million) are living in absolute poverty.


In close collaboration with local, national and international partners, UNICEF has continued to respond to the humanitarian  needs of the Haitian population affected by the very poor level of basic social services, high consumer food prices, natural disasters and political instability. It has mainly focused on the priority areas of health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection. However, these interventions were hindered due to instability, insecurity and lack of access to some parts of the country, especially during the recent floods.


UNICEF is leading the nutrition sector (along with the Ministry of Health) and is an active member of the health sector. In collaboration with partners Action contre la Faim (ACF), Médecins du Monde-France, Médecins du Monde-Suisse, Médecins  sans Frontières-Belgique, Terre des Hommes, Concern, Initiative Développement (ID), the World Food Programme (WFP)  and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), UNICEF has ensured that at least 1,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.


At least 15,000 children and women received fortified meals (Sprinkles). During that period, approximately 10,000 children were screened for malnutrition. This represents about 40 per  cent of children under age five in the affected areas. In order to respond to the ongoing emergency crisis, 30,000 people received basic care through mobile clinics in flood-affected areas. In addition, several local nutritional surveys have been
conducted, in addition to a national survey, in order to update the baseline and guide the strategic choices. Cold chains at departmental level have been re-established after being destroyed by the floods.


Furthermore, 50 post-exposure prophylaxis  (PEP) kits have been made available to partners.  UNICEF is the leader for the WASH cluster in the country and together with governmental and non-governmental partners a  contingency plan has been prepared to face the upcoming hurricane season.


During the year, emergency interventions to improve water systems, the construction of community latrines and provision  of drinking water have benefited a total of 400,000 people who can now have access to safe water and 2,500 people to sanitation facilities. More than 60,000 people are being sensitized on hygiene promotion and 70 community water committees have been created.


Despite the great improvement that these interventions represent in a country where  nearly half of population is deprived of water and sanitation facilities, there are still enormous challenges to face, such as  coordination issues due to the weak capacity and accountability of governmental institutions as well as lack of monitoring and maintenance.


Intersectoral interventions are ongoing, such as the rehabilitation of water and drainage systems in health institutions and schools.  In 2008, UNICEF provided basic knowledge on child protection in emergency for 60 people from the six focal points of  the country’s 10 departments (Haitian Red Cross, Civil Protection Directorate and Ministry of Social Affairs). As a result,  the capacity of the focal points to monitor and report on the situation of children separated or unaccompanied due to the  emergency has been strengthened, and the newly acquired skills have been used for the recent emergency situation.


In  addition, the identification and referral systems for children and families severely affected by the hurricanes have been  improved for key non-governmental and governmental partners – Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA) and Institute for Social Welfare and Research/  Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (IBESR/MAST).


At least 3,200 children have benefited from improved parental skills,  psychosocial support and access to basic services in three departments (West, South and Artibonite). At least three local  networks of women’s associations have been reinforced to sensitize the community on the prevention of gender-based  violence (GBV), especially among displaced people. In the education sector, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education (central and decentralized levels), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners (Service and Development Agency, Episcopal Commission  for Catholic Education (CEEC), CRS, CARE and Save the Children) UNICEF has provided support, since the start of 2008, to  more than 100,000 vulnerable children, an estimated 35 per cent of children affected by man-made or natural crises.


Some 1,200 children living in violence-affected urban area benefited from improved learning conditions, rehabilitation of schools,  sanitary infrastructure, canteen, furniture, school supplies, and improved teachers’ skills. More than 2,000 children in six  out of the eight public schools affected by Tropical Storm Noel benefited from the rehabilitation of classrooms, sanitary  facilities and water points. In West Department, 12,000 children from 20 public schools benefited from a hygiene and  health education programme in the disaster-affected area.


UNICEF purchased school furniture and supplies to accommodate  30,000 students, 498 teachers and 83 public schools in one of the most deprived areas of the country. UNICEF also  procured 71 ‘school-in-a-box’ kits to respond effectively to the urgent education needs of 5,680 affected schoolchildren.


A total of 132 schools are being cleaned in the disaster-affected area of Gonaïves, thus enabling 50,000 children to resume schooling. Some 40,000 children are returning to school for the 2008–2009 academic year and are provided with student  kits, while benefiting from the rehabilitation of school infrastructure. In addition, 700 teachers in 123 schools in West Department are improving their teaching skills.


UNICEF leads and is responsible for coordinating four major sectors (nutrition, WASH, education and child protection). UNICEF has established and reinforced collaboration with governmental counterparts in those particular sectors and also with other UN agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), WFP and IOM. In September 2008, the WASH cluster has been activated.


In the last four years, Haiti has been severely struck by natural disasters and political crises, thus impairing its capacity to provide basic services to the population. While emergency funds will enable UNICEF to respond to sudden or immediate crises, they will also complement the ongoing efforts of the Country Office to support and reinforce the Government’s capacities to provide basic social services to a very deprived population.


In 2009, UNICEF’s emergency programme will aim to provide nutritional support to an estimated 5,000 pregnant women and 10,000 severely malnourished children. The programme will endeavour to facilitate the return or first-time access to  education for an estimated 100,000 most affected children, ensure access to drinking-water sources and sanitation facilities for some 200,000 people, and protect 3,000 children at risk or most vulnerable to family separation, sexual violence and other forms of violence, exploitation and abuse.


Emergency Preparedness (US$ 500,000)

For 2009, the overall objective is to establish a strong basis for standing readiness that will help ensuring children’s and  women’s basic right to survival and well-being in whatever emergency situation, through the following key activities:

-Ensure coordination among the various actors (Government, UN agencies and partner NGOs) in the areas of nutrition,  WASH, education and child protection;


-Procure and preposition emergency supplies to ensure response in the first 72 hours for an estimated 2,000 families;


-Develop and strengthen partnership agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the Government’s emergency response agency, other UN agencies and partner NGOs;


-Reinforce the capacity of the Government, UN agencies and partner NGOs in emergency preparedness and response,particularly in the areas of nutrition, WASH, education and child protection.



Health and nutrition (US$ 5,000,000)

For 2009, the overall goal is to minimize the impact of the ongoing crisis on the health and nutritional status of children under age five and to ensure that pregnant women in affected areas are identified and provided with micronutrient supplementation.


-Some 50,000 affected persons, host communities and impoverished persons will benefit from the following key activities:


-Procure and distribute essential emergency drugs and equipment to 20 mobile clinics and temporary health dispensaries  in addition to the existing health facilities in order to cover 50,000 people;


-Continue with the procurement and active distribution of all vaccination supplies in the country, with special focus on affected areas;


-Continue supporting at least 30 newly established outpatient therapeutic feeding centres run by partners to reach 10,000 severely malnourished children (about 40 per cent of the estimated load in the country and around 70 per cent of the children in the affected areas)


-Train 200 health agents in treating severe acute malnutrition;


-In collaboration with WFP distribute antihelmintic drugs and vitamin A to 300,000 school-aged children;


-Support supplementary feeding programmes in collaboration with WFP, targeting 15,000 pregnant women and children under age five in the affected areas (70 per cent of estimated load);


-Coordinate the nutrition cluster through the deployment of a nutrition specialist.



Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (uS$ 2,500,000)

For 2009, the overall goal is to reach around 200,000 persons, focusing particularly on children and women through the following key activities:


-Undertake emergency rehabilitation/repairs of 10 existing water supply infrastructures benefiting an estimated 100,000 people;


-Support the emergency rehabilitation/repairs of sanitation infrastructures in affected communities at household,  communal and municipal levels for about 20,000 people;


-Rehabilitate water and sanitation infrastructures at 50 schools and 2 health centres benefiting around 30,000 people;


-Drill 30 new boreholes and rehabilitate more than 60 existing boreholes to provide safe drinking water to some 50,000 people;


-Provide hygiene promotion and education to 200,000 people;


-Provide sanitary materials, water filters and hygiene items to 10,000 flood-affected people;


-Ensure the cluster coordination activities through the deployment of a water and environmental sanitation (WES) specialist.


Education (US$ 2,900,000)

For 2009, the overall goal is to guarantee access to education to children affected by the emergency crisis. A total of 40,000 crisis- and disaster-affected children and 125 schools will benefit through the following key activities:

-Provide 40,000 student kits (schoolbags, scholastic materials);


-Rehabilitate 50 schools that can be reopened with community-based input (including water and sanitation, cleaning, repair) accommodating approximately 20,000 children


-Refurbish 125 schools (providing school kits, school furniture and textbooks) to provide a quality environment to more than 40,000 school-aged children;


-Undertake specific education support programme to facilitate the enrolment of 5,000 children of most affected families;


-Support quality early learning for 4,800 preschoolers in 80 preschool facilities by improving educators’ skills, providing early learning materials, refurbishing classrooms and constructing age-adapted sanitation facilities;


-Provide technical support to the Ministry of Education to elaborate, execute and monitor a plan for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of disaster-affected schools.  



Child Protection (US$ 600,000)

For 2009, the overall goal is to strengthen child protection in emergency preparedness and response, particularly in the areas of family separation, birth registration, and access to basic and social services for the affected children in three key departments (Artibonite, South and West), in close partnership.


Key activities will include:

-Ensure that at least 3,000 children affected by the emergency situation of September 2008–2009 in Artibonite, South and West Departments, particularly orphaned and other vulnerable children (OVC), continue to benefit from referral systems for improved access to basic and social services;


-Ensure that at least five focal points from the Civil Protection Directorate, the Haitian Red Cross and the Ministry of Social Affairs in 10 departments are trained in rapid protection assessment methods, referral system, prevention of GBV and prevention of family separation, and are able to coordinate a child protection response within the departmental
committee for risk management and reduction in the event of an emergency;


-Enhance the capacity of local counterparts of the Ministry of Social Affairs and of the Institute for Social Welfare and Research (IBESR) in targeted areas in monitoring, reporting, investigating child-care institutions in affected areas, and referring them to competent authorities;


-Ensure that 168,000 affected children (80 per cent) in targeted departments are reissued birth certificates that were destroyed/lost during the 2008–2009 hurricane season;


-Support the protection mechanism currently eensured by a Senior Protection Officer under the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator, particularly for women and children.



Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.