Friday, January 14, 2011

Update on Recovery in Haiti: An Interview with Action Against Hunger

We've all heard that even one-year after the earthquake, the situation in Haiti has remained dire and a lot of progress still has to be made. To get more specific information on the recovery efforts, we thought we'd ask our friends at Action Against Hunger. Check out the interview below.

What is your assessment of the state of Haiti one-year after the earthquake?

Despite the magnitude of the damage caused by the earthquake, progress has been made. Humanitarian organizations like Action Against Hunger have helped provide over a million people with food, clean water, education and shelter during the first year of recovery. They have repaired water infrastructure, built thousands of latrines and transitional shelters for families, provided access to basic health care, and helped families generate income through shelter construction and rubble removal projects. They have also managed to limit the spread of cholera in camps through large-scale information campaigns and the distribution of basic hygiene materials.

However, the effects of the earthquake—both physical and psychological—are still profound. Despite enormous progress, Port-au-Prince still lies in ruins, and its inhabitants still bear the scars and trauma of a devastating disaster. The government estimates that to date only 5% of the debris has been removed from the streets of the capital, and more than a million people continue to live in make-shift tents while awaiting adequate shelter.

The challenges of rebuilding Haiti remain immense. Sustainable infrastructure programs and opportunities to generate income are urgently needed to give people the means to provide their families with adequate food, shelter, and clean drinking water on a long-term basis.

What is the most important thing people should know about the recovery effort?

NGOs are working closely with the Haitian authorities, who are responsible for leading recovery and reconstruction efforts. Action Against Hunger and other humanitarian organizations are working to build the government’s capacity to provide basic services and are collaborating on hundreds of projects across Haiti.

The government lost key employees after the earthquake, and many others chose to leave the country. In addition, buildings and institutions were destroyed and records lost. While the government gets stronger, humanitarian organizations are helping to fill gaps from providing access to clean drinking water to getting anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS patients. There are many more needs that must be addressed in the long-term reconstruction process, such as improving the provision of water and sewage treatment, which would help prevent water-borne diseases such as cholera.

If someone wants to help or get involved, what can (should) they do?

Support an organization involved in long-term recovery efforts in Haiti that has a proven track record of success. For example, Action Against Hunger is continuing to provide hundreds of thousands of Haitians with nutritional care, access to clean water and sanitation, opportunities to generate income, and psychosocial support. We’re also working to reduce the risks associated with future natural disasters, promote long-term food security, encourage sustainable agricultural and water management practices, and strengthen the capacity of local institutions to deliver basic health services. Visit to learn more.

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