Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Haiti aid effort one month after earthquake

Woman carries rice sack

An emergency appeal launched by the international aid community within days of the Haiti earthquake has reached more than 95% of its $577m target.

But as the rainy season approaches, and then the hurricane season, the situation for hundreds of thousands of people is still precarious and their needs urgent.

Haiti needed a lot of assistance before the earthquake. The earthquake has compounded those needs
Nicholas Reader, UN OCHA

The humanitarian response to the disaster was a logistical nightmare.

Major infrastructure, government and international aid teams already in Haiti had been devastated. Port-au-Prince's small airport was soon overwhelmed by aid flights as rescue teams were flown in.

Up to 230,000 people died in the quake and around a million were left homeless.

There was some criticism of the co-ordination of the aid effort in the immediate aftermath, with some aid flights delayed and food failing to reach many survivors.

A month after the disaster, aid distribution points have been established, camps set up for the homeless and the port re-opened. The focus is still on saving lives but of a more long term nature. Here we examine the ongoing aid effort.

Flash Appeal

Humanitarian agencies with experience of dealing with natural disasters launched the consolidated Haiti Flash Appeal within 72 hours of the earthquake. They were able to estimate funding requirements for the first six months in key sectors such as food, health, emergency shelter, agriculture etc.

Grand total:
Haiti Flash Appeal:
Major contributors:
Private: $548m
US: $538m*
Disasters Emergency Ctte: $94m
Canada: $88m*
Unicef: $77m
UK: $33m*
*Donations channelled through different charities

Millions of dollars have been raised by governments, organisations and individuals. The combined total, including pledges to projects not listed in the Flash Appeal is more than $1.79bn, with over $902m in uncommitted pledges.

But different sectors of the Flash Appeal have been better funded than others. Camp co-ordination, for example, has attracted much more than the requested amount.

Emergency shelter and sanitation projects have less than 50% of the required funding. Other priority sectors such as agriculture and early recovery projects, have received only 8% and 24%, respectively, of what is needed.

Nicholas Reader, deputy spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the response to the initial $577m appeal had been tremendous. But he said each aid sector or "cluster" involved life-saving projects and more specific donations for underfunded areas were needed.

Aid agencies are set to launch a new emergency appeal next week to fund efforts for the rest of the year.

"We expect the humanitarian need to be significant for the long term," Mr Reader said. "Haiti needed a lot of assistance before the earthquake. The earthquake has compounded those needs."


Providing shelter materials to between 900,000 and 1.1 million homeless people is still a priority. Most of those made homeless are living in hundreds of temporary camps set up around Port-au-Prince and other affected areas.

Grab from Ocha map of camps in Haiti

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About 77,000 people are in the 10 organised settlements managed by aid workers. Aid organisations say 272,000 people have been given some form of emergency shelter so far.

A shortage of decent tents has been an issue - 23,000 family tents have been distributed, with another 48,000 in stock or en route. Tarpaulins, which are easier to transport, are also being distributed in their hundreds, with about 400,000 available or on the way.

Mr Reader said the expectation was that the shelter needs of all the homeless could be met - equipment is on route from stockpiles in Europe and Asia.

"It is a case of getting everything available into the country and that takes time," he said.

Target size of emergency accomodation

Aid agencies who work to provide shelter after emergencies usually recommend 18 sq m per family of five - 3.5 sq m per person. Due to major space restrictions in the devastated city, this target is being relaxed until alternative areas become available.

The Haitian government and UN agencies are working to expropriate large areas of private land outside the city which can be used to house vulnerable people and those currently in flood prone areas before the start of the rains in April.


With so many people living in makeshift camps, like the 25,000 on the Petionville golf course camp, sanitation is a major concern.

Water distribution
Agencies want to provide fresh water to more people

The UN says malaria and dengue are widespread in Haiti during the rainy season and the current conditions in the camps will increase the risk of outbreaks. Cases of diarrhoeal diseases in children continue to be reported.

The World Health Organization says 18,000 pit latrines are needed for 900,000 people, one per 50 people. But at present there is only about one per 1,000 people. The lack of space to build the latrines is a constraint - as well as a lack of dumping sites for waste.

The Water Sanitation and Hygiene project is providing safe drinking water (five litres per person per day) to more than 911,200 people through water tank and water treatment plants at 300 sites across Port au Prince, Leogane, and Jacmel.

The aim is to provide safe drinking water to a total of 1.1 million people per day.


The food situation in Haiti was serious before the earthquake on 12 January - with more than 2.4 million people considered "food-insecure". One third of newborn babies were born underweight and rates of anaemia were high in toddlers and pregnant women.

Since the earthquake struck, two million have received some form of food aid - mostly a 25kg sack of rice to feed a family for two weeks - roughly three portions of rice per person per day.

Aid organisations have launched a "surge" operation which aims to reach two million people over a 14 day period.

Security has been a concern for food distribution agencies, with food convoys attacked by armed gangs and people without food coupons trying to gain access to the distribution sites.


At the peak of the emergency response, Port-au-Prince's airport was receiving 160 flights per day. But that number has started to drop off to around 74 a day as air cargo is increasingly replaced by sea transport.

The Port-au-Prince port is handling an average of 350 containers per day now that specialised cranes are in place. Two floating docks are being installed, which should increase capacity at the port to a possible 1,500 containers per day by next week.

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