Haiti is an extremely fragile state, vulnerable to natural hazards and manmade disasters, and chronically unprepared to deal with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. Food shortages and malnutrition, disease epidemics and the humanitarian needs generated by the ongoing migration crisis require sustained humanitarian assistance.
Haiti is the poorest country of the Western hemisphere, with social unrest and political instability continuing to hinder a faltering economy. The import of goods, including food, is difficult and most in-country commercial exchanges are severely hampered. Food prices are soaring, impoverishing the most vulnerable households.
According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, Haiti was among the 10 worst food crises in the world in 2019, and forecast to worsen in 2020. 40% of the population is in need of emergency food assistance. Acute malnutrition is increasing in drought-affected areas, and only 1 child in 10 consumes the minimum acceptable diet.
Coronavirus containment measures have led to a sharp economic slowdown with loss of employment for many Haitians and a vertical drop in their income. Restrictions of movement preventing access to subsistence means have come on top of extreme economic instability, insecurity and a poor crop season.
The needs of displaced people remain high, in particular for those who have been forcibly deported from neighbouring Dominican Republic.
The overall increasing level of violence in the country further exacerbates the humanitarian needs and reduces access to basic services for vulnerable Haitians. Children, elderly people, women and single-headed households are particularly subject to abuse, exploitation and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence.
Haiti has an extremely high level of exposure to natural hazards paired with very limited capacities to respond. The lack of coping capacities is one of the worst in the world.
Haiti is the largest beneficiary of the European Union’s humanitarian aid in Latin America and the Caribbean, with €419 million provided since 1994. EU aid brought relief to the victims of the 2010 earthquake and several major hurricanes. EU assistance also helps tackle the cholera epidemic, droughts, and the migration crisis, while strengthening local capacities to prepare for, and respond to, natural and epidemic hazards.
In 2020, the European Union invested €3 million in disaster preparedness and €2 million on protection response to support vulnerable migrants and returnees due to the violent context. In 2019, the EU invested €3 million in disaster preparedness and further €14 million to respond to food shortages. In addition, €50,000 supported the Haitian Red Cross in providing access to urgent healthcare to the population affected by social unrest in Port-au-Prince. Funding was provided through the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
In 2018, the EU mobilised €3.4 million in disaster preparedness including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) preparedness, rapid response capacities, disaster-resistant shelter techniques and drought preparedness. An additional €12 million responded to food shortages and shelter needs, as well as to increase coordination across humanitarian operations.
In 2016 and 2017, the EU provided almost €20 million in emergency aid to cover immediate the needs of those most affected by hurricane Matthew, ranging from food to shelter, livelihood, water, nutrition, and education.
Since 2014, €49 million have been allocated to address acute food and nutritional needs through cash transfers, provision of safe water, and livelihood support.
After the 2010 earthquake, the EU provided shelter, safe drinking water, healthcare, food and protection to 5 million people. EU aid worth €52.7 million addressed the consequent cholera outbreak, targeting close to 3 million people.
Since 1998, the EU has invested over €25 million in its disaster preparedness programme to set up early warning systems and to strengthen shelters and infrastructure against recurring hurricanes, floods, and other natural hazards. Increasing the resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the face of natural and epidemics hazards remains a priority.