The Socio-political Situation
After widely contested elections, Michel Joseph Martelly was sworn in as President of Haiti on 14 May 2011. Political volatility followed, with President Martelly’s first two proposed Prime Ministers-designate rejected by the Legislature. In October 2011, Mr. Garry Conille, an international public servant and former UN official, was confirmed Prime Minister following difficult consultations with opposition MPs and Parliament.
Although the political impasse has been broken, the newly formed presidential coalition remains weak. Only three of 94 representatives in the Lower House and no senators of the 30-member Upper House are from President Martelly’s Repons Peyizan party. The coalition’s sustainability and strength will depend on the President’s ability to negotiate and find common ground with opposition MPs, especially those from the former ruling party, Inite, which remains a major political force in the Legislature.
In the medium term, Haiti will continue to rely on international support, currently coordinated by the UN and the Interim Reconstruction Commission (Commission Intérimaire pour la Reconstruction d’Haïti - CIRH). The security situation in Haiti remains precarious, with social unrest related to the ongoing challenging political transition likely to remain throughout most of 2012. General security will be handled by the National Police (PNH), supported by approximately 9,000 international peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
MINUSTAH’s mandate under Security Council resolution 1944 was renewed in October 2011. In the lead-up to the renewal, the mission was subjected to heightened public criticism and resentment related to the cholera outbreak. The majority of Haitians believe that mission troops brought cholera to the island. President Martelly has indicated that he wants to see MINUSTAH’s mandate increasingly focused on development, with the wider UN system playing a larger role in Haiti’s reconstruction. The 2012-2016 mission concept of operation outlines a roadmap for a phased transfer of its tasks to the UN Country Team (UNCT), other partners and, where possible, State institutions.
To assess the implications of the political delays, an extension of the current Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF) for Haiti, from 31 December 2011 to 31 December 2012, was requested. MINUSTAH and the UNCT in Haiti will develop a new ISF for the period 2013-2016, to coincide with MINUSTAH’s drawdown plans for Haiti.
The Humanitarian Situation
Nearly two years after the 12 January 2010 earthquake, there are still almost 600,000 IDPs living in 895 camps in the West Department of Haiti, mainly in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of people in camps has decreased by 63 per cent, from 1.5 million in July 2010 to 550,560 in October 2011.
Forced eviction is a key threat to the remaining camp populations. According to the Camp Coordination Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, 67,162 people were evicted between July 2010 and July 2011. During this same period, the number of camps under threat of eviction increased by 400 per cent.
The Ministry of Public Health and Population reported 492,098 cases, and 6,749 deaths associated with the cholera epidemic, as of 4 November 2011. The epidemic peaked again in early June 2011, but since then the number of new cases has been declining, with a 50 per cent decrease in new cases reported between July (40,873) and August (20,093). While the nationwide mortality rate of 1.4 per cent has significantly decreased, the Health Cluster reports that if the current trend continues, there will be approximately 50,000 new cases in 2011. Many WASH partners are ending their activities, primarily due to funding shortfalls.
Haiti faces many underlying vulnerabilities including recurrent flooding, landslides, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunami-related risks, particularly in the northern Departments. The flood-prone areas of the Artibonite and the West Departments are at particular risk given the large number of people still in camps in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.
Frequent droughts and hurricanes have affected domestic food production. A recent Ministry of Agriculture report indicates that 45 per cent of the country’s population is food insecure, representing a significant increase from the 30 per cent prior to the earthquake.
The Humanitarian Strategy and Response
Ten UN entities are involved in the response to the humanitarian/earthquake and cholera epidemic with preparedness and disaster risk reduction activities. They are FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and UNOPS. Approximately 195 international NGOs, the Red Cross Movement and 200 national partners actively participate in the cluster system. Reduced levels of humanitarian funding have led to a downward trend in the number of humanitarian partners, which is expected to continue. Advocacy with the Government and development agencies is a priority, in order to ensure residual humanitarian needs are incorporated into longer-term strategies.
At the midyear review of the 2011 CAP, the funding requested decreased dramatically from $915 million to $382 million. As of November 2011 the CAP was funded at 59 per cent. Although some donors have indicated that additional funds would be available to respond to a new crisis, both NGOs and UN partners indicate funding shortfalls as the main reason for reducing activities, including cholera response and WASH in camps.
The humanitarian community in Haiti focuses on two strategic objectives: address gaps in critical unmet humanitarian needs in order to save lives and protect the vulnerable groups; and support targeted action focusing on emergency preparedness and response.
Under OCHA’s leadership, the Inter-cluster Coordination (ICC) mechanism plays an important role in uniting humanitarian actors and working with national and local authorities to ensure a strategic, balanced and prioritized response. The HCT, led by the HC, provides strategic guidance to the ICC on response and preparedness activities. These include setting common objectives and priorities, developing strategic plans, and providing guidance to clusters on operational issues and to cluster lead agencies on the use of resource mobilization mechanisms.
While Haitian authorities are taking more responsibility for and ownership of the country’s needs and response, national and local institutions remain weak. Therefore, the underlying premise of the humanitarian strategy is to complement national efforts through working with development partners to strengthen institutions and build capacities for preparedness and disaster response. Involving and supporting local NGOs will be a key part of this strategy.
The humanitarian community will continue to ensure a minimum standard of basic services for people living in camps, given the delays in implementing return and relocation programmes. President Martelly has voiced his intention to rebuild communities and to implement vital infrastructure and social services. A key objective for humanitarian partners will be to support the Government to identify and implement durable solutions for the return and relocation of the hundreds of thousands of IDPs still in camps. Humanitarian partners will work with recovery and development actors to identify and prioritize projects to build permanent shelters and repair earthquake-damaged houses. The UN is supporting the Government’s “6/16” pilot project, which aims to return IDPs living in six priority camps to 16 communities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.
Efforts to mitigate the impact of the cholera epidemic will continue. As the epidemic stabilizes, strengthening hospitals’ capacity and integrating cholera-treatment centres into the national health system will be emphasized. Awareness-raising campaigns and advocacy to improve access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation services will remain important.
There is a crucial need to bolster national capacity for contingency and response planning. Key activities will be to support the Government to prepare and plan for new emergencies, and to develop disaster preparedness and response coordination structures, such as the Centre des Opérations d’Urgences National (COUN) of the Direction de la Protection Civile (DPC).
The evolving humanitarian situation will continue to be influenced by the political situation. In the likely political scenario of continuing differences between President Martelly and the opposition-dominated Legislature, periods of political tension and impasse are expected to continue. In this scenario, the country is likely to make little progress and could experience deterioration in the economic and humanitarian situations. Violent protests and difficulty in establishing the Government will be the main threats to progress in Haiti.
In the best-case scenario, a political compromise between the President and the Parliament would stabilize Haiti and allow for reconstruction to move ahead. Greater stability would improve the humanitarian situation and attract critical funding for development projects from international partners.
If the current pace at which IDPs are leaving the camps is maintained, the number of IDPs is expected to decrease to between 100,000 and 200,000 by the end of 2012. Increased evictions and the withdrawal of humanitarian partners providing services in camps could accelerate this trend. Without durable alternative housing solutions, the number of urban squats and slums is expected to increase, especially in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. Protection concerns, particularly for women and children, are expected to increase in affected neighbourhoods.
Strengthened prevention efforts and improved response capacities, combined with acquired immunities, are expected to stabilize the cholera epidemic. While the number of new cases will continue to decrease, localized outbreaks can be expected, especially in remote areas. The Health Cluster estimates that the current trend will continue for the next two to three years, with recurrent but lower peaks, until it reaches an endemic phase.
Against continuing humanitarian needs, significantly reduced humanitarian funding will be a major challenge. Many NGOs already have or are planning to end their programmes due to funding constraints. Humanitarian partners’ withdrawal will erode the sub-standard living conditions of vulnerable people, especially those in camps. Food insecurity and high malnutrition rates will continue and could deteriorate depending on the impacts of climate-related events, such as droughts and hurricanes. Another significant natural disaster would result in a return to a large-scale emergency.