Haiti earthquake: What Oxfam is doing and what next for reconstruction
Two years after the devastating January 12 earthquake, which killed more than 220,000 and initially left more than 1,5 million homeless, reconstruction efforts and the relocation of those displaced by the earthquake remains slow. 519,000 people are still living in camps in tents and under tarpaulins.
The grave humanitarian situation was worsened in October 2010 when, less than ten months after the quake, Haiti was gripped by a cholera outbreak. There had previously been no documented cases of the disease in Haiti for many decades. Today, Haiti has the world’s highest cholera infection rate, with more than 5% of the population affected; and more than 6,700 Haitians have died as a result of the outbreak.
With a new government in place the time is now to work together to rebuild Haiti. The second anniversary of the devastating earthquake must be a call to action. Despite the apparent slowness of reconstruction, this remains an opportunity for Haiti to address the chronic poverty and inequality that has plagued the country for decades.
What Oxfam has achieved
In 2011, Oxfam reached 532,000 beneficiaries: providing safe water and sanitation facilities; supporting small businesses; rebuilding communities and carrying out advocacy work with communities and partners on governance and protection issues. Our main focus is now on recovery and rebuilding; transitioning from humanitarian to development work with existing and new partners to find sustainable solutions to Haiti’s problems.
We're also working hard to ensure that the voices of the Haitian population are heard in the reconstruction efforts.
Aid is working
Aid has made a difference in the lives of Haitians. There have been major achievements. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and hundreds of thousands of people have been supported in leaving the camps and rebuilding their lives. Oxfam is making a difference in communities affected directly and indirectly by the earthquake and we are spending donor money effectively.
Oxfam has been working in Haiti since 1978. After the earthquake in January 2010, Oxfam raised approximately $98 million for its three-year earthquake response program. A further $8 million was raised in 2011, bringing the total to $106 million.
Oxfam helped 500,000 people during the first phase of the emergency humanitarian response to the 2010 earthquake (accounting for $68 million of the Earthquake Fund) and has assisted more than 700,000 Haitians through its cholera response program.
In 2011, Oxfam’s began the transition from emergency response towards longer-term rehabilitation and development focussed programming, drawing a further $28 million from the earthquake fund.
Development and reconstruction
Our focus now is on longer-term development, promoting sustainable change. We are working in communities rather than camps; identifying and engaging with Haitian organizations as partners in longer-term initiatives to strengthen civil society and local capacity, supporting employment creation through development of small enterprises, to re-build a new Haiti.
However, the fragility of Haiti’s recovery, as well as the threat of cholera and regular tropical storms, will ensure that Oxfam’s emergency response capability will always be a core part of our program.
Oxfam is committed to the reconstruction process in Haiti, and will develop innovative programs to help empower local communities and build the foundations of a stronger civil society.
Of the $4.6 billion pledged by international donors for Haiti’s reconstruction in 2010 and 2011 (including $1 billion in debt relief), donors had only delivered 43 percent by the end of September 2011 (according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti).
Donors and aid agencies must do more to support the government, to help it be accountable to its own people and ensure that Haitians have a say on how the country is rebuilt.
Transitioning water and sanitation management
Since mid February 2011 Oxfam has been handing over ownership of most of its water and sanitation (WASH) programs in IDP camps to trained water committees. We have established alternative WASH provision mechanisms in all the camps we have exited. This process will continue through January 2012.
The transition process is an approach that ensures greater and more effective ownership and participation by the Haitian people. Oxfam will support and continue to build the capacity of the communities to enable them to take ownership of the facilities in the camps.
Some of what we provided to those affected by the earthquake:
- Over 300 million liters (approximately 79 million gallons) of clean, chlorinated water each month to the camps and areas where we worked
- 2,500 latrines and 1,032 bathing shelters, which the camp residents and local people maintain
- Hygiene kits containing personal care items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, and towels to more than 120,000 people.
- More than 42 million water purification tablets, 20,000 buckets, and one million bars of soap
We've also worked with local organizations on developing innovative and environmentally friendly solutions to sanitation problems, including a urine diversion toilet and this bio-degradable 'peepoo' bag.
Food and livelihoods
Unemployment and food shortages are two of the main obstacles that people face as they start to rebuild their lives. Our focus has been on local production and reinforcing links between producers and consumers. We also provide support to small businesses and those owned by women, to help get them back on their feet.
In pictures: Oxfam cash-for-work program
Advocacy and campaigning
We campaign to help ensure that the voices of poor and marginalized people are heard and that our years of experience working in Haiti help to shape the decisions that affect its people.
Oxfam staff in Haiti
Oxfam has been working in Haiti since 1978. Most of our staff are local Haitians.
- 386 total staff
- 352 national staff
- 34 international staff (9%)
Map of Oxfam's response in Haiti
Our Oxfam-in-Haiti map gives a great view – in photos, videos and links – of just some of Oxfam's earthquake relief work in over 180 sites (camps, schools, communities) across Haiti.
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How you can help
Help Oxfam respond to humanitarian emergencies: Donate to the Emergency Fund of the Oxfam closest to you.
Updated 10 January 2012