Revision of the Flash Appeal for Haiti 2008
The combined impact of the four successive hurricanes and tropical storms which hit Haiti between August and September 2008 are probably the most serious catastrophe in the country’s history since the beginning of the 20th century. According to Government figures, the hurricanes and tropical storms Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike caused 793 deaths and injured 548 people. 310 people are still missing. More than 165,000 families – 800,000 people - were affected, especially in Artibonite, South and South-East regions, mainly in the sense of destroyed or damaged houses (around 100,000) and the loss of their already precarious livelihoods. The disasters impactednine out of ten regions of Haiti. Total losses and damages have been valued at 15% of GDP.
Under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator, the international aid community put in place an immediate emergency response to meet the most urgent needs of the population. On 12 September a Flash Appeal was launched for US$107 million to undertake humanitarian and some early recovery activities within a six-month period, and within the framework of a coherent and coordinated approach including the Government, the United Nations system, NGOs and in coordination with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. As of 18 December 2008, donor response amounted to some 40% of the Appeal’s requirements, with aid worth an additional $40 million coming outside the Appeal, for example, in-kind and bi-lateral donations to the Haitian Government, or to organisations such as NGOs whose projects were not included in the Appeal.
Comprehensive assessments conducted over the past two months have confirmed the original estimation of 800,000 people left in need of humanitarian assistance. While humanitarian activities are still the priority of the international assistance community in specific areas of Haiti for the months to come, it is also clear that early recovery activities need to be initiated and/or expanded, and are indispensable to avoid an unnecessary prolongation of emergency relief aid and ensure that affected communities start rebuilding their lives and self-reliance. As made clear during the launch of the Flash Appeal, such early recovery activities (focusing on cleaning cities, clearing of irrigation schemes and drainages and jumpstarting disaster reduction actions through, for example, watershed management), are also part of a survival strategy as these activities are implemented through a labour-intensive approach.
Resuming such activities and thereby injecting cash in the economy of the most affected Haitians is crucial in the short term, until such time as the necessary resources are mobilised for longer-term activities of a similar nature. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) being finalised by the Government with the support of the international community will provide a comprehensive framework for early recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Early-recovery activities included in the present revision to the Flash Appeal are intended to jumpstart this process, as a fundamental component of the broader strategy spelled out in the PDNA.
A significant effort from the international community is critical to responding to the continuing humanitarian and key early recovery needs of the Haitian population. Even though the loss in human lives was less than was caused by tropical storm Jeanne in 2004, the impact is much more significant due to the increased ecological and socio-economic vulnerability of the Haitian population. This has resulted in a major decrease in the forecasts for economic growth and has diminished still further the possibility of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. A large majority of the population was already facing extreme hardship, with 53% living on less than one US dollar per day, while prices for staple foods have increased by 40% since the beginning of the year.
An appropriate response to outstanding humanitarian needs will save lives whilst at the same time creating the foundations for successful recovery and reconstruction. In terms of timeframe, this revision of the Flash Appeal has been tailored to ensure consistency with the PDNA. For this same reason, the revised Appeal will run a total of eight months instead of the usual six, to the end of April 2009. Based on a better understanding of the impact of the disaster, the present Flash Appeal has been revised in accordance with existing needs with new requirements totalling $127,525,485. Partners have indicated that $52,033,924 has already been reported for their proposed projects, leaving an outstanding requirement of $75,491,561. The revised appeal includes 55 projects, of which 15 are new, 13 are revised and 27 are unchanged.