13 JAN 2014
Haiti Earthquake Four Years On
Owning the future: Haitians take the lead in reconstruction
Four years after the tragic earthquake, Haitian national institutions, civil society, communities and citizens are leading reconstruction and development in the country.
Four years have passed since the tragic earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and left Haiti in one of the worst crises of recent times. Although much remains to be done, international aid agency Oxfam acknowledges that there have been positive strides toward reconstruction and development. While recognising the Haitian state’s efforts in taking a leading role, Oxfam highlights the need for inclusive processes that ensure the participation of Haitian civil society organisations, communities and citizens.
Today, 89 per cent of the displaced population no longer lives in camps. Yet 172,000 people remain in tents, with limited access to essential services like water and sanitation. If return, resettlement and local integration solutions are not intensified this year, a large number of people risk continued displacement and will remain vulnerable to shocks.
The government has designed a housing policy with a mechanism to discuss housing issues with stakeholders. Despite advancements, the number of permanent housing units built remains very low and housing provisions are insufficient. Investments in neighbourhoods need to increase. Oxfam urges it to ensure the participation of communities, civil society organisations, and other state institutions in the established coordination mechanisms.
“This fourth commemoration reminds us of the importance of reconstruction efforts,” said Oxfam Associate Country Director Yolette Etienne. “We recognise that there have been positive efforts on behalf of the government in producing clear guidelines and regulations regarding reconstruction. These, however, need to be enforced and followed strictly if we wish to witness Haitian men and women exercising their right to a safe and secure home, as well as their right to education, food and life.”
Housing is not the only pressing issue. In 2012 half of the world’s suspected cholera cases occurred in Haiti. Between January and December 2013, 57,377 suspected cases of cholera and 582 deaths were recorded, and 45,000 new cases are expected for 2014.
In spite of this, the cholera caseload has dropped by over 50 per cent since 2010. This is the result of persistent work by organisations like Oxfam, which have collaborated with the Ministry of Health, the water authority, civil society organisations, and communities to set up technical structures, processes and infrastructure to reduce the spread of the disease. Today, Haitians lead, own and improve these structures and processes themselves.
Oxfam urges the Haitian state to continue developing decentralised governance structures to create an environment and political momentum which promote the engagement of women and young people in national institutions and processes.