Haiti Four years later: Quake –affected communities at the centre of development

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Women sell mangoes in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. UNDP

Four years after the 2010 earthquake, enormous efforts have been made to help the Haiti recover and improve the lives of Haitians in the affected neighbourhoods, according to a report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

More than 80 percent of the 10 million cubic meters of debris generated by the earthquake have been cleared from the streets of Port-au-Prince. This pace was much faster than that recorded in 2004 after the tsunami in Indonesia. A UN intervention not only cleared one million cubic meters of rubble but also recycled the debris, turning it into paving stones, stairs and public places where today children can play. This initiative is still underway in the town of Léogâne.

To help in the fight against poverty in the country, UNDP has been working for the past four years with the relevant ministries to support the transition from emergency to development and to ensure that recovery efforts are sustained, integrated directly into public policy and managed by the Haitian institutions. Following the management and recycling of debris projects, this approach led to the creation of an Inert Waste Management Unit that was established within the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications.

Furthermore, technical support from UNDP helped the government establish the Coordination Unit for Housing and Public Buildings Construction and the launch of the National Housing and Habitat Policy, which arose from the actions of the 16 neighbourhoods/6 camps project that saw to the relocation of more than 11,000 displaced families and the closure of 50 camps. Public spaces are coming back to life.

In the same intervention and from a determination to keep Haitians at the heart of the decisions taken for their own neighbourhoods, UNDP continued to build community platforms in 2013. These eight platforms consist of 160 men and women from different sectors of community life whose choices have been approved by the people and the government.

Through targeted training programmes and infrastructure projects directly managed by them, the platforms learn how to better meet the needs of their communities while deciding the development priorities of their own neighbourhoods, from rehabilitation of roads to job creation through to vocational training, or evaluation of urban risk and the installation of solar lamps to ensure the safety of women at night.

In parallel with this integrated approach, fighting against poverty at the national level requires identification of the most vulnerable families. With the technical expertise of UNDP nearly 15,000 households in precarious areas have been identified representing nearly 100 thousand people and classified according to their level of vulnerability.  The registry has already been put to use as part of a social protection programme implemented by the government’s economic and social assistance fund.  The objective of sustainability through these initiatives remains at the heart of UNDP's work to reduce poverty within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose deadline is 2015.

UNDP says while these interventions continue to bear fruit, Haiti still has enormous hurdles to clear before it can secure its position as an emerging country in 2030.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 3’00″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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