Humanitarian Coordinator Nigel Fisher launches post-Sandy Emergency Appeal in Geneva


Speech of Mr. Nigel Fisher, DSRSG/RC/HC

Member States Meeting on the Emergency Revision of the Consolidated Appeal for Haiti

Monday 12 November 2012, Port-au-Prince/Geneva

Read the Emergency Revision of the Consolidated Appeal for Haiti

Bonjour et merci de vous joindre à nous pour cet échange. Votre solidarité avec Haïti est très appréciée durant cette période où ses citoyens les plus vulnérables traversent un nouveau désastre. Je voudrais remercier Catherine Bragg et M. Jean Bony Alexandre, Ministre Conseiller, Chargé d’Affaires de  la Mission Permanente d’Haïti auprès du Bureau des Nations Unies à Genève, pour faciliter cette rencontre et nous donner l’opportunité de partager cet aperçu de la situation en Haïti après le passage de l’ouragan Sandy.

A côté de moi vous voyez Mme. Myrta Kaulard, la Directrice du Programme Alimentaire Mondiale en Haïti.

Le passage de l’ouragan Sandy, pendant plusieurs jours, a frappé une population déjà très fragile qui a du lutter contre des catastrophes naturelles récurrentes au cours des dernières années. Je ne citerai que le tremblement de terre de 2010, la sécheresse au début de cette année, la tempête tropicale Isaac il y a quelques mois, sans compter l’épidémie de choléra qui sévit encore ; tout cela en plus d’une insécurité alimentaire chronique et grandissante au gré de la hausse des prix des denrées alimentaires sur le marché mondial.

On estime que 2 millions de personnes ont souffert d’une manière ou une d’autre de l’impact de l’ouragan. Des familles ont perdu leurs maisons, leurs récoltes, leurs sources de revenus ainsi que l’accès à des structures de santé, d’éducation et à l’eau potable.

Our major concern is rapidly worsening food insecurity. Even before the passage of Sandy, evaluations had revealed that in almost half of the country’s communes, some 2.5 million people were affected by food insecurity. Of these, an estimated 900,000 people were identified as severely food insecure.

Now, with the impact of Sandy, general household food insecurity has increased markedly, while the number of people facing severe food insecurity has jumped to 1.5 million from 900,000. Among those 1.5 million individuals, up to 450,000 adults – predominantly women – and 4,000 children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition, if no immediate remedial actions are taken.

With drought and Tropical Storm Isaac having already reduced harvest prospects significantly, Sandy hit the few remaining productive areas in the country, which had not affected by previous disasters. National estimates for winter harvest yields have dropped dramatically and families face a bleak seven months until the next harvest in June 2013 – and that harvest yield will be poor unless replanting and recovery of agricultural lands can take place over the next few weeks. We have very little time.

Food losses are valued conservatively at $104 million, mostly in the agricultural, fishing and pastoral sectors. With much less locally-produced food available and increased dependency on imported food products, food prices are continuing to rise. Food assistance, cash for work activities and targeted malnutrition prevention initiatives for the most vulnerable are urgently needed. To exacerbate the situation, WFP and partners have already had to cut back coverage of the national school meals programme because of insufficient funding.

A second area of concern is shelter. The hurricane destroyed at least 6,200 houses, and damaged over 21,400 more. The hurricane also destroyed 5 200 emergency shelters in 88 camps. Out of the estimated 31,300 people who lost their houses, the majority are now living with host families or in improvised accommodations. Almost 3,000 are still living in community hurricane shelters where they took refuge during or after the storm – and most of them have nowhere to return to, as their houses and land were washed away by the floods. Their situation is dire and likely to strain coping mechanisms in the weeks and months to come. They are in need of urgent basic assistance including non-food items, clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene items.

Tout ceci intervient alors que le choléra sévit encore. En dépit d’une baisse considérable de l’incidence des infections de choléra et du nombre de décès en 2012, l’épidémie de choléra perdure et les risques de nouvelles flambées demeurent élevés.  Avec le passage de la tempête tropicale Isaac et maintenant de l’ouragan Sandy, plusieurs nouvelles flambées ont été enregistrées par le système national d’alerte, créant un pic de nouveaux cas de choléra et de décès. Entre le 28 octobre et le 8 novembre, 3600 cas de choléra ont été confirmés. En comparaison, 8.230 cas de choléra ont été rapportés en octobre et 7.500 en septembre.

L’augmentation du nombre de patients dans les centres de traitement a conduit à une baisse des stocks de médicaments prépositionnés dans les dépôts du gouvernement au niveau départemental (provincial). Il faut donc urgemment de nouveaux médicaments, fournitures et équipements pour reconstituer les stocks si nous voulons être capable de faire face aux prévisions de nouveaux cas. L’ouragan Sandy a détruit 22 centres de traitement du choléra. Cela aggrave les difficultés causées par la destruction antérieure de 39 centres durant la tempête Isaac, centres qui n’ont toujours pas été réparés. En outre, plus de 800,000 personnes ont perdu l’accès à leur source régulière d’approvisionnement en eau.

Immediate financing is required for humanitarian partners to fill critical gaps in cholera response. Over the last year, there has been a sharp decrease in the number of international actors involved in the cholera response, while Government capacity to respond to cholera outbreaks is still fragile. Thus, resources are urgently required to enable international partners to re-open treatment facilities and to ensure outreach to the most isolated communities

In addition, the hurricane damaged 100 permanent or semi-permanent schools and destroyed more than 50 of them. Flooding damaged teaching and learning materials in more than 500 schools throughout the country. Today, 20, 000 children who were going to school cannot attend school as a result of this situation.

The Haitian people are remarkably resilient, but they have no choice but being so. But their capacity to bounce back yet again is stretched to the limit. If there is one positive by-product of the impact of tropical storm Sandy, it is the sense of urgency that it has given to the Haitian government and international partners to consider chronic vulnerability to natural calamities through focused development interventions – for example, large public works and employment programmes to accelerate watershed management, community catchment dams, reforestation, agriculture recovery, infrastructure rehabilitation – or permanent and durable housing solutions for camp populations. We hope that the new Haitian joint coordination mechanism for development aid effectiveness will consider reprogramming some existing development budget allocations to such disaster risk reduction activities, as well as directing new allocations to DRR. Some of the development partners have already indicated their willingness to consider such allocations.

En réponse à cette dernière crise, la communauté humanitaire a rapidement cherché à travailler avec le gouvernement haïtien pour identifier les besoins prioritaires résultant du passage de la tempête. A ce jour, le gouvernement et les partenaires humanitaires ont conduit des évaluations de besoins dans toutes les communes et départements affectés. Des distributions de matelas, sacs de couchage, kits d’hygiène, tablettes de purification de l’eau et de rations de nourriture sont en cours. Ces interventions sauvent des vies et par conséquent, doivent continuer pendant les semaines et mois à venir mais des écarts subsistent et nous courons le risque que les stocks soient totalement épuisés si nous ne trouvons pas de nouvelles ressources pour les reconstituer.

The emergency revision of the CAP that we are launching today seeks to address the most urgent needs of 1.26 million people. The immediate interventions to address those needs require US$ 23 million right now. They will enable 426 000 vulnerable people to increase their food consumption, receive agricultural materials and improve their nutritional status, 22 600 people to receive shelter and NFI assistance, to cover the needs for 10 000 potential new cholera cases, to provide access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene to 750 000 people and allow, lastly, 50 000 students and teachers to return to schools.

Meeting these needs is critical for the Haitian population to be able to cope with the situation and face other challenges ahead.

As Humanitarian Coordinator, I would like to thank the Member States and the European Union who have already made commitments, and I appeal to international partners to come to the aid of the Haitian people and support both the government and the humanitarian community in our efforts to meet some of their more pressing needs. The situation will only worsen during winter if we don’t act swiftly and decisively. The country will never be able to benefit from hard-won gains if we don’t meet the needs of the most vulnerable: today through humanitarian action and in the immediate future, through targeted development interventions addressing poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods in rural areas especially, environmental recovery and disaster risk reduction.

Millions of Haitians living at subsistence level have no reserves left to withstand the latest threats to their existence; countless households – the majority headed by women – are already mired in poverty, deeply in debt, and on the edge of survival. Our help is required right now to feed them and their children, keep them healthy and out of the clutches of cholera, provide work, restore livelihoods, ensure shelter and give them the minimum strength to face what would hopefully be a brighter future.

For more information go to: www.unocha.org

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