For the Commission's Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), Haiti is the largest operation in Latin America and the Caribbean and in 2010 was the third top recipient of ECHO's aid worldwide (after Pakistan and Sudan). ECHO's total contribution to Haiti since the earthquake in 2010 has reached €213 million.
The focus will continue to be addressing the humanitarian needs still prevalent 3 years after the earthquake: facilitate the return to better service-equipped neighborhoods of more than 350.000 people still displaced and living in camps, and reinforcing Haitian health institutions to enable them to cope with endemic cholera and new outbreaks, ensuring also access to care and with a strong focus on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) to help prevent the disease. All interventions will have Disaster Risk Reduction components integrated so that all humanitarian projects help decrease the risks in case of a disaster.
ECHO's response to the massive needs after the 7.0 earthquake on January 12th 2010 was fast and decisive. Initially, ECHO allocated €100 million to provide life-saving help in the areas of food, water, sanitation, health and shelter. In addition to this, funds from already ongoing programs totaling €8.5 million were redirected to be used in the earthquake response. The funds helped provide hundreds of thousands of affected people with plastic sheeting and tents, safe drinking water, food and non-food items such as blankets, kitchen utensils and hygiene articles. They also ensured the construction of latrines and showers for the population. The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism provided support for the coordination of the Member States' civil protection assistance: 25 European countries were involved in the relief effort and channeled their assistance through the Mechanism. About 5 million people benefited from ECHO funded projects.
ECHO is supporting the ongoing assistance to the victims of the earthquake. The focus is on Internally Displaced camps closure and on the relocation of displaced people to neighbourhoods through rental subsidies, house repair and livelihood incentives while upgrading basic living conditions in neighbourhoods. Water, sanitation and hygiene promotion are an important component of ECHO's strategy. Issues like protection, gender, handicap and Disaster Risk Reduction are considered in the design of the projects.
ECHO also addressed the cholera epidemic declared in October 2010, which according to the Ministry of Public Health October 2012 data, has killed 7,626 people, making it one of the world largest epidemics ever recorded and certainly the worst epidemic recorded in Latin America & the Caribbean for more than a century. Due to a very weak health system and poor access to clean water, infection and mortality rates were initially very high among a vulnerable population with no immunity against a disease which had not been seen in Haiti in the past century. ECHO provided assistance during the acute phase of the epidemic, devoting €22 million to cholera treatment facilities and improving water and sanitation conditions, as well as promoting hygiene habits to prevent the disease from spreading. Support has also been given for epidemiological surveillance and logistics. 3 million people have benefitted from this aid.
As the cholera epidemic becomes an endemic problem, the goal is to continue supporting the provision of adequate treatment, promote access to safe water and proper sanitation and hygiene –which are crucial in preventing the disease - and build the capacity of the national health staff and the Ministry of Health to respond to the disease. ECHO is currently attempting to ensure an adequate transition from the emergency response to addressing this endemic.
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
Preparedness cannot prevent disasters from happening but it can saves lives once a disaster strikes. Our Disaster Risk Reduction actions aim at helping the most vulnerable communities, schools, local authorities and national emergency response systems to prepare better for emergencies and reduce the risks they are exposed to. The main goal is to increase the local capacities for disaster response and support the capacity building of the Haitian National System of Disaster Risk Management and Civil Protection Directorate and the Haitian Red Cross. To avoid future catastrophes, Disaster Risk Reduction must be firmly lodged in Haiti's reconstruction and development processes. 1.3 million people are benefitting from our Disaster Risk Reduction actions in Haiti.
Emergency response to sudden disasters triggered by natural phenomena
€3 million were allocated to respond to damages caused after Tropical Storm Isaac hit the country late August 2012. The emergency aid provided focused on food security (assist affected people to cope with the loss of jobs and assets and restoring livelihoods), replenishment of stocks and cholera surveillance.
€4 million have been allocated in November and €2 million in December 2012 after Hurricane Sandy struck the country and lead to substantial humanitarian needs such as food security, shelters support, and cholera response.