- Haiti is ranked 149 of 182 on the Human Development Index.
- 78% of the population lives below the poverty line.
- One child in five dies from preventable diseases before the age of five.
- Access to basic social services like water and health care is limited.
- The 2008 hurricane season created widespread death, destruction, displacement and disease in areas prone to flooding and mudslides.
In Haiti, there is a willingness within the Haitian Government and the humanitarian community to address the significant humanitarian challenges, and a desire for OCHA to help lead the effort. Further work is needed in contingency planning and preparedness, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has had to step in on the response. Deficiencies have been highlighted in coordination, joint planning, needs assessment and prioritization. The following are some of the more significant challenges that remain:
- Coordination mechanisms are redundant, not always effective, and misunderstood both at the national and departmental levels.
- Sharing of humanitarian information between the UN, NGOs and the government is limited. There is duplication of effort and humanitarian decision-making is not properly informed.
- Contingency planning among international humanitarian actors is disconnected from that of the government
- Opportunities to build capacity within the government and Haitian communities have not been adequately seized upon.
- Fund raising has been inadequate and gaps remain in key areas of relief and recovery. With the leadership and support of the HC, OCHA possesses the knowledge and expertise to effect the necessary change.
OCHA will draw actors together to establish common objectives and priorities. OCHA possesses the technical capacity to develop information tools and products tailored to the specific needs of the humanitarian community. It will present humanitarian requirements to donors in a manner that will result in increased levels of funding. In 2010, OCHA Haiti’s strategic priorities will be geared towards strengthening the capacity of the government to: (i) better understand and collaborate with humanitarian community; (ii) lead joint-planning and preparedness; and, (iii) effectively coordinate and manage humanitarian responses. The long-term goal is to gradually reduce Haitian dependence on outside support to meet the needs of Haitian citizens affected by natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.
Following the establishment of an adequately staffed team in Haiti, these goals are within reach. In particular, in 2010, OCHA Haiti will focus on the following: In relation to Objective 2.1 (effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders) OCHA will rationalize and reinforce coordination structures at the national and departmental levels for more effective responses and consistent support to Haitian authorities. OCHA will ensure systematic evaluation of coordination mechanisms and support to national and departmental structures. Whenever necessary, it will support the development of clear TOR and standard agenda. In relation to Objective 2.3 (a more predictable and scalable suite of OCHA services and tools to support leaders and partners in response preparedness, humanitarian response, and transition) OCHA will improve information sharing and learning among departmental actors and national structures, to enhance analysis and support decision-making. OCHA will ensure better access to data and information for the entire humanitarian community.
It will produce joint information products (maps, website, 3W) with relevant government services for analysis, decision-making and advocacy purposes. It will facilitate the establishment of a national framework for humanitarian contingency planning on the basis of which departmental plans are developed. And it will train departmental actors on the planning framework, preparedness actions and the entire disaster management cycle. In relation to Objective 2.4 (a more systematic coordination of the common humanitarian programme cycle) OCHA will facilitate analysis of needs and risks for better planning and prioritization. It will support the development of a country-wide, cross-cutting assessment of vulnerabilities (needs) and risks.
OCHA will analyze them through a variety of information products produced in collaboration with relevant government services. It will advocate for reliable sources of funding for preparedness, risk reduction and emergency response to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises. In relation to Objective 1.2 (relationships strengthened with a wider group of operational partners, and other relevant actors to advance humanitarian action), OCHA will participate in integrated United Nations planning and coordination mechanisms. This will support the inclusion of humanitarian concerns in the elaboration of a United Nations strategic vision and ensure that the integrated approach takes full account of humanitarian principles.
As part of its strategic objectives, OCHA will focus the next couple of years on creating in-country structures and capacities to take responsibility for humanitarian planning, IM, preparedness and response. This should allow OCHA to begin reducing its presence in Haiti within a relatively short period of time, while standing by internationally to support should these capacities be overwhelmed by a major disaster.