During 2011, the humanitarian situation in Haiti improved considerably. The number of IDPs in camps reduced by 65 per cent, and rehabilitation projects in earthquake-affected areas increased, in line with the return strategy developed by humanitarian and development actors. A well-coordinated response to the cholera epidemic led to a decline in cumulative case-fatality rates, from 2.4 per cent in November 2010 to 1.3 per cent in December 2011. With a national contingency plan now in place, complemented by departmental-level plans in each of the 10 departments, Haiti is better prepared to respond to natural disasters.
In February 2011, OCHA began strengthening its lead role in inter-cluster coordination (ICC), developing a workplan based on the HCT’s strategic priorities. The ICC produced a return and relocation strategy and Haiti-specific guidelines on civil-military coordination to help define and improve relations between humanitarian actors and the military component of MINUSTAH. The HCT endorsed both initiatives. In April 2011, OCHA provided training on the new IASC guidelines on coordinated needs assessments to raise awareness of international standards among cluster members and lead agencies. Sector-specific needs assessments were undertaken at national and departmental levels in 2011 in line with the in-country roll-out of the Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) guidelines.
Working with the Department of Civil Protection (DPC), OCHA supported the body’s lead role in preparedness planning, including support for the development of a single contingency plan ahead of the 2011 hurricane season. OCHA also supported simulation exercises (SIMEX) in July 2011 in the Ouest, Sud-Est and Artibonite Departments. Simulations were followed by a joint lessons-learned workshop in December. Discussions have started on developing a multi-risk contingency plan. OCHA also contributed to the revision of the ToR for the Communication Pool of the Government-led National System for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction, which is activated at the onset of an emergency.
OCHA has continued to refine and develop new information management tools and services. From snapshots to 3W updates to humanitarian bulletins, these products are complemented by public information and advocacy documents. They provide authoritative overviews of humanitarian concerns, and they help the humanitarian community to analyse achievements and address gaps and challenges. OCHA’s products have received positive feedback from the HC and the international media.
OCHA continues to work with and give support to a range of partners, including clusters and Government institutions such as the DPC, the Ministry of Planning and the National Information Centre.
OCHA is particularly visible in the information sphere, chairing the Information Management Network meeting and co-chairing the GIS Working Group with the National Centre for Geo-Spatial Information. OCHA’s Public Information Unit chairs the Communication Group every second week, which has developed a joint media strategy and produces documents such as the UN annual report. The group contributed to successful media liaison and communications work around the two-year anniversary of the earthquake.
OCHA continued to lead humanitarian planning and funding advocacy, pushing to address the increasing gaps in covering humanitarian needs. The priorities for 2012 include supporting half a million people who still live in camps, and meeting communities’ water and sanitation needs, particularly in camps where gaps continue to grow. These must be addressed, particularly as Haiti is still coping with the consequences of the cholera epidemic.
Looking ahead, OCHA’s strengthening of links with recovery and development actors will be critical. Increasing emphasis on community-based support to provide durable solutions will be essential. At the national level, OCHA will prioritize capacity-building, and identify coordination tools and leadership arrangements to support Government disaster management capacity. This will be linked with longer-term development and disaster risk reduction priorities. OCHA will also advocate for sufficient resources to respond to the cholera epidemic, including building capacities within the Ministry of Health to coordinate prevention and response, and improve the national surveillance system.