Tag Archives: Caribbean

News on Haiti’s Current Reconstruction Achievements, Setbacks

Nearly three years after the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010 and killed over 300,000 people there are significant signs of improvements in the reconstruction of the world’s poorest country despite subsequent natural disasters after the quake, notably hurricanes Issac and Sandy. However, when you read and hear multiple accounts from the ground progress is slow-going and there is still much work to be done.

“The US and the UN have been working side-by-side with the Haitian community and the government to rebuild that country, and while there is still a lot of work to do, there is also good news,” said United Nations Foundation CEO, Kathy Calvin on a conference call yesterday. “The UN has been on the scene in Haiti since long before the earthquake and it continues to address the needs of their people helping to rebuild and transform their country.”

According to key statistics laid out by the United Nations Foundation 80% of all debris generated from the earthquake has been removed by the Haitian people and Haitian government, as well as by the United Nations and other organizations. 158,000 people have been moved into new housing, nearly 3 million children under age 10 have been vaccinated against polio, measles and rubella, and 470,000 temporary jobs have been created, of which 40% have gone to women.

Despite these improvements, over 300,000 people remain displaced and still live in nearly 500 squalid tent cities where cholera, poor sanitation, and rife poverty remain rampant. According to the International Organization for Migration 84% of tent city dwellers have been living in temporary housing since the earthquake hit three years ago.

“There are 358,000 people living in really sordid camps now,” said Amy Wilentz,  longtime journalist on Haiti and author of ‘Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti’, in a January 10 NPR interview with Michel Martin. “It’s a little more than the estimate of people killed in the earthquake.”

Since a cholera outbreak hit the tiny island country shortly after the earthquake, nearly 8,000 people have died and over half a million people have been sickened. To respond to the cholera problem, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is focusing on the quality of water and sanitation in order to stop the transmission of the infectious disease across the island. Additional reconstructive efforts such as the improved rebuilding of structures, particularly hospitals, are being overlooked by PAHO as well as continued vaccination programs.

As it stands now reconstruction efforts continue to progress and centralized, coordinated efforts appear to be the next step to progressive action in order to avoid overlaps in development and also to give more power and leadership to the Haitian government.

“As we see progress we also see the long-tern challenges that the country has,” said Jessica FaietaDeputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UN Development Programme (UNDP) on a conference call. “Now we are looking to the longer term engagement of the donors and the continued engagement of UN partners and the international community.”

Common to all reconstruction efforts it will take time to remedy all of the earthquake damage and its residual effects, but there is optimism in the midst of a barrage of  critics.

“The progress in the last three years has been enormous,” Faieta said.

Photo: The Haitian Government and international agencies are ramping up efforts to relocate people still living in camps across Haiti as a result of the January 2010 earthquake. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

 

UNAIDS Releases New Global HIV/AIDS Report

Annemarie Hou, Director of Communications at the Joint UN Programme on AIDS and HIV (UNAIDS), speaks at a press conference in Geneva launching a new Results Report on HIV. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

World AIDS Day is quickly approaching on December 1 where the global community comes together to remember those who have succumbed to HIV/AIDS and also push for an AIDS-free generation. Last week UNAIDS released their new global report on the HIV/AIDS (download: PDF) that showed significant movement in the reduction in new HIV cases. New cases were down to 2.5 million in 2011 from 3.2 million in 2001. The report also highlighted that more people are living with HIV and have access to antiretroviral therapy, currently a 63% increase from 2009- 2011.

“The pace of progress is quickening—what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before. It is the proof that with political will and follow through we can reach our shared goals by 2015.”

UNAIDS Launches Results Report ahead of World Day
Michel Sidibé (centre), Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on AIDS and HIV (UNAIDS), with Bernhard Schwartländer (left), Director for Evidence, Strategy and Results at UNAIDS, and Annemarie Hou (right), UNAIDS’ Director of Communications, holds up the organization’s new Results Report on HIV, launched during a press conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.


According to the report
sub-Saharan Africa still claims the highest number of HIV positive people followed by the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In fact, women account for 58% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Optimistically, the overall rate of  HIV infections has been reduced 50% since 2001. The greatest reduction is being seen currently with newborns. According to the report in 2011, new infections in children were 43% lower than in 2003 and 24% lower than 2009.

More Work to Do

While key HIV/AIDS statistics are improving there is space for better results. The overall number of new HIV cases need to be drastically reduced and more people need access to antiretroviral drugs. An estimated seven million people still need access to life-saving drugs . There is also a funding gap that will prohibit marked improvements unless more money is pledged by both poor and middle-income countries and the international contributions are sustained or increased.

Read more at www.unaids.org

Source: UNAIDS Global Fact Sheet

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Heavy rains in Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haïtien flooded streets, homes and fields overnight on 9 November, leaving hundreds homeless and up to fifteen people dead. A girl walks through the flooded streets of her neighbourhood. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Hurricane Sandy left infrastructural damage and flooding in many areas of Haiti. Tent cities have been a mainstay in Haiti since the devastating earthquake nearly three years ago, sanitation is hit and miss, and dirty standing water and raw sewage pose perpetual problems throughout the tiny island nation.

According to the Associated Press, “the International Organization for Migration says Haitian officials have confirmed 3,593 cholera cases and another 837 suspected cases since Hurricane Sandy’s passage.”

NGOs and doctors are giving out cholera kits and are asking Haitians to spread the word about how to avoid getting cholera, but with a lack of clean drinking water more people are bound to be sickened by or die because of cholera. And despite these valiant efforts the waterborne disease continues to take the lives of the very young and old primarily.

Haiti Babi – Helping Haitian Mothers

Social entrepreneur Katlin Jackson recently co-founded Haiti Babi, a company that creates handmade baby blankets and fair-wage jobs for moms in Haiti, empowering them to provide for their families.

According to Haiti Babi, one in ten children in Haiti live in an orphanage, and many of these children have parents, but their parents cannot afford them. Haiti Babi was created as a sustainable solution for this problem-  Haiti Babi gives moms jobs.

Our moms in Haiti take pride in creating beautiful, soft, handmade baby blankets for sale around the world. We believe that empowerment through economic development is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. When a mom works at Haiti Babi, she doesn’t just earn a paycheck; she also rebuilds her self-esteem, and shows her children that they can break the cycle of poverty. – Katlin Jackson

Haiti Babi is in the final stages of a successful Indiegogo campaign where thus far they have raised over $12,000 to fund the start-up costs of Haiti Babi. Once off the ground you will be able to purchase beautifully handmade baby blankets that will empower fellow mothers in Haiti and allow them to take care of their children and families.

Watch their story below.

Haiti Babi on Indiegogo from Katlin Jackson on Vimeo.

Keep up-to-date about Haiti Babi on the web (http://haitibabi.org), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HaitiBabi), and on Twitter (@haitibabi).

Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Haiti

Hurricane Sandy left death and destruction along its path through the Caribbean and upwards through the northeast United States over the past week. The latest death toll in the United States is nearing 100 and property and environmental damages will cost billions of dollars to repair. But, in Haiti where hurricanes and tropical storms are rife and where development projects remain too few the flooding, disease, and homelessness are harder to bear.

Even though Sandy roared through the Caribbean last week flooding is still a major concern particularly as cholera cases rise. The flooding also damaged newly planted crops that may result in spikes in food prices.

“Several thousand kilometres of agricultural roads were destroyed and thousands of heads of cattle were swept away by the flood waters, which also destroyed thousands of hectares of plantations,” Agriculture Minister Jacques Thomas said as reported by South Africa’s Times Live.

Yesterday the Haitian government declared a month-long state of emergency to accelerate infrastructure and electrical repair and restore drinking water. Johan Peleman, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) operation in Haiti, told UN Radio that it is still too early to assess the full range of damages.

There are, however, concerns about food insecurity. “Already, the drought and the previous storm had hit the northern part of the country very badly and we had seen the levels of food insecurity rise there,” Peleman said. “With the south being hit now, we are going to face in the next couple of months very serious problems of malnutrition and food insecurity.”

Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
A woman walks through a flooded market in Port au Prince. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
Residents stand on the banks of a river that swept away five homes in Port au Prince. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
A coastal town is flooded. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH

Join Us for the #HabitatinHaiti Twitter Party (November 14, 2012)

Join us! Register on Eventbrite.

On November 14 at 7 PM EST we will moderate a Twitter conversation about the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project in Haiti this year. The 29th annual Carter Work Project returns to Léogâne, Haiti, Nov. 23-Dec. 1, 2012, for the second year in a row.

Together, we will chat about:

  • Habitat’s earthquake recovery initiatives in Haiti and specifically how the Habitat community in Léogâne is now flourishing
  • What it takes to build and strengthen a community
  • Ways you can help with Habitat’s work in Haiti or in the community where you live

Follow @Habitat_org for updates and join the conversation at #HabitatinHaiti. For more information about the 2012 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work project, visit: http://www.habitat.org/cwp/2012. Join us! Register on Eventbrite.

Haiti Experiences Devastation After Sandy

Haiti, the tiny island in the Caribbean and one of the poorest countries in the world, experienced severe infrastructure devastation and 52 deaths caused by hurricane Sandy. 200,000 people are currently homeless as a direct result of the hurricane. Still suffering from the damage of Issac earlier this summer and the earthquake from nearly three years ago, Haiti is again ripe for a devastating cholera outbreak, food shortages, and food price spikes. Crop damage, especially banana and coffee, is expected and the loss of livestock will hurt many farmers.

With all of the infrastructure damage and humanitarian efforts that are perpetually underway the Security Council recently extended the UN Haiti Mission for one year until October 15, 2013. The UN Haiti Mission creates development programs that help bring Haitians to self-sufficiency like the inland fish farm written about in September, or the recent infrastructure project that got underway in Port-au-Prince that will help rebuild streets and roadways.

Security Council Meeting: Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Photo: United Nations)

Here is a telling video from the Washington Post that shows some of the devastation first hand and how those still living in the tent cities are faring.

What can you do to help?

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New Fishing, Agricultural Development Project in Haiti

Development projects in the developing world help in immeasurable ways. They create a blueprint for implemented ideas that work and even those that have drawbacks, but most importantly they help people lead more productive, healthy lives. Even if the projects aren’t scaled nationwide or even regionally development projects allow experts to help those in need and learn simultaneously.

Recently the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) created an inland fish farm for Haitian families in the central part of the country to increase agricultural production in the region.

Despite the massive earthquake in 2010, the recent cholera outbreaks in the tent cities that still houses close to 400,000 people and hurricane Issac that flooded parts of the country two weeks ago, development experts understand that stabilization efforts must get underway because once all of the crises subside Haitians will need to resume a normal livelihood.

The project constructed two fish farms, 300 meters of irrigation canals to yield more crops, and 500 meters of packed earth irrigation canals according to the United Nations.

Photos: UN Photo/Logan Abassi