British public support Haiti quake victims six months on

By agency reporter
9 Jul 2010

Nearly six months after 12 January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Disasters Emergency Committee has announced that it has raised £101 million and that this money has so far funded emergency assistance to 1.2 million people.

DEC member agencies - both religious and secular NGOs - have played a major role in meeting the most urgent needs of survivors but helping provide jobs, decent places to live and better public services remains an enormous challenge, says the coalition.

Over £30 million has been spent already with the largest share of the money paying for water and sanitation (28 per cent), emergency shelter (22 per cent), livelihood support (16 per cent) and household items, including soap, mosquito nets and water containers (14 per cent).

The earthquake was so devastating largely because it hit Haiti’s desperately poor capital, Port-au-Prince, where 86 per cent of the people were living in poorly-constructed and tightly packed slums.

Even before the earthquake, only half of the people in Port-au-Prince had access to latrines and only one third had access to clean tap water.

DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley commented: “In 35 years of humanitarian work I have never seen such a challenge confronting survivors of a natural disaster and the DEC agencies which are trying to help them.

“Shockingly, our provision of emergency latrines and clean water means that many people now have better water and sanitation services than before the quake. One measure of our achievement is that there has been no major outbreak of potentially deadly diseases such [as] measles, cholera or diarrhoea.

“Providing decent shelter in a city choked with millions of tons of rubble is proving enormously difficult. People will need jobs to pay rent on properties that have yet to be repaired or rebuilt, at sites that have yet to be cleared, where the ownership of every scrap of land is likely to be hotly disputed.

“It is clear that we are only at the beginning of what will be a long and painful journey but that I know DEC member agencies are committed to do whatever is necessary to support the people of Haiti,” he declared.

Aid already paid for with DEC funds includes:

· clean drinking water for over 250,000 people
· emergency shelter for over 100,000 people
· the building of 3,000 latrines
· over 2,500 ‘cash for work’ public service projects
· medical consultations for over 100,000 people
· supplementary feeding for 1,890 malnourished children

DEC funds will be spent over three years in total, rather than the usual two, but many member agencies will stay on well beyond that period, using funding from other sources.

The members of the DEC and other NGOs will play a significant role in rebuilding Haiti but leadership must come from the Haitian government. Much of the most urgently needed money from international governments should be provided through the $US1.5 billion UN Flash Appeal but this remains only 60.4 per cent funded.

A series of short videos showing what DEC members have achieved and the challenge still facing them and the people of Hait,i are being uploaded onto YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DECcharity

It is also possible to stay up to date with the emergency response in Haiti by following DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or by becoming a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

DEC (www.dec.org.uk) consists of: Action Aid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, and World Vision.

[Ekk/3]

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