Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Geneva, 29 October 2012
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean from October 23 to October 26 2012, crossing directly over Jamaica and Cuba. However, tropical storm conditions and severe rain and wind affected Haiti from October 23 to October 27, covering all departments of the country.
Severe flooding damaged and blocked infrastructure/roads, damaged/destroyed houses, caused loss of livestock and severe damage to agricultural fields. Evacuations have taken place in risk-prone zones and certain IDP camps. New outbreaks of cholera have been reported (OCHA, Medecins du Monde, CARE in a meeting with the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, October 26) and more are expected in the coming days. 29 deaths, 4 missing and 17 742 people evacuated into provisional shelter so far (UNDP Haiti October 26 2012).
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
Tropical Storm Isaac struck Haiti in late August 2012 and the country has far from recovered from this event. Food security is already highly threatened by the damages of Isaac in many ACT zones of intervention in Haiti. The additional impact of Sandy is thus even more devastating, in an already precarious situation.
All this takes place against a background of Haiti being a highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes and storms. Both urban and rural areas are still recovering from the 2010 earthquake. Cholera still prevails in the country and there are risks of exacerbation in the days and weeks after the impact of the hurricanes. Livelihoods in highly vulnerable rural areas have been lost, and the affected communities have limited capacity to recover without external support.
3. National and international response
The Haitian government has activated its national system for Disaster Risk Management (SNGRD) and has issued a ‘Red Alert’ for all departments in the country, which ended on October 27.
On October 25, the Direction of Civil Protection had evacuated more than 5 000 persons and had reported more than 1 300 houses destroyed.
The government is cooperating with the UN system and INGOs, and organized a large coordination meeting through its Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation in Port au Prince on October 26, with the objective of facilitating coordination of planned interventions across the country. At the same time, international NGOs and UN agencies are working to support the Direction of Civil Protection and local authorities to perform joint rapid evaluations, and plan/execute initial distributions of shelter/tents, food kits and NFIs in the most severely affected areas.
The Secretary of State for Planning and External Cooperation, Mr. Robert Labrousse, at a meeting in PaP with international organizations on October 26 mentioned that the Haitian government welcomes international support and aims to collaborate with the international community in providing a response to the double impact of Isaac and Sandy.
4. ACT Alliance response
The ACT response has been mainly monitoring the situation. ACT members are assessing damage and needs in every department. Some agencies are already implementing distributions of food/hygiene kits.
5. Planned activities
ACT members have preliminarily identified needs for livelihoods, cholera/WASH and shelter interventions all over the country. NCA HQ has guaranteed approximately USD 25,000 to be released to respond to the disaster.
It might be that the ACT Haiti Forum decides to incorporate the response to this new emergency under the appeal for Assistance to Population Affected by Tropical Storm Isaac that is still under preparation. This decision will be taken within the coming two days.
Funding is one of the main constraints. Many resources are already tapped in response to Isaac. Some of the most affected zones were also severely struck by Isaac, and capacity to recover is already very low. Lack of road access to some of the worst affected areas is another constraint.
Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (firstname.lastname@example.org)