Haiti: 5 things you need to know

12 January, 2015
In close collaboration with the Government of Haiti, the UN and its humanitarian partners have supported more than 1.3 million people on the road to recovery. Credit: MINUSTAH/Audrey Goillot
In close collaboration with the Government of Haiti, the UN and its humanitarian partners have supported more than 1.3 million people on the road to recovery. Credit: MINUSTAH/Audrey Goillot
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Today marks five years since Haiti was rocked by a massive earthquake. That disaster – the deadliest in the Caribbean nation’s history – killed an estimated 217,000 people and left 2.1 million people homeless.

In close collaboration with the Government of Haiti, the UN and its humanitarian partners have supported more than 1.3 million people on the road to recovery. Here are five things you need to know about the humanitarian situation in Haiti, five years after the earthquake.

1. Almost 95 per cent of those living in camps have been able to return home, or find new lodgings. This decrease is largely the result of return and resettlement programmes, including a cash grant programme that has provided more than 75,000 families with money to rent new homes.

2. The cholera epidemic has followed a gradual decline since 2010. Concerted national and international efforts have led to a steady reduction in the number of people affected and killed by the epidemic over the past three years. The number of suspected cases has reduced significantly each year; from more than 350,000 cases in 2011, to just over 100,000 cases in 2012, to approximately 26,000 cases in 2014. In December 2014, for the first time since the epidemic began in 2010, the case fatality rate fell to 1 per cent – in line with internationally recognized standards.

3. Haiti is better prepared for future disasters. National capacities for disaster preparedness and response have been strengthened as a result of the response to the earthquake. The country now has emergency operation centres in each of its 10 departments, as well as the capital Port-au-Prince. Departmental and national emergency plans have been developed. A national plan to reduce seismic risk has been created, and almost two dozen disaster simulation exercises have been carried out across the country, allowing authorities and aid groups to test preparedness and response plans.

4. Despite these improvements, significant humanitarian needs still exist in Haiti and sustained commitment from humanitarian and development actors is still needed. An estimated 80,000 people are still in camps. Across the country, only 26 per cent of Haitians have access to acceptable sanitation facilities – and this figure drops to 17 per cent for rural communities.

5. Haiti remains highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The Government estimates that 500,000 people could be affected by natural disasters in 2015, including by storms or other extreme weather events influenced by the El Niño phenomenon. Every year, thousands of families lose their livelihoods during the hurricane season.

In all, an estimated 2.5 million Haitians still need assistance to access proper medical care, clean water and sanitation, or to overcome the crippling consequences of poverty.

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