FIVE years ago, today, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti, killed more than 230,000 people and upset the lives of 3.5 million.Of those left to rebuild lives after the earthquake, 1.5 million were children.
For UNICEF, working in the Southern Hemisphere’s poorest country presented many challenges and on this day five years ago, launched an immediate response that goes on, even now.
Despite ongoing work to recover from the Haiti earthquake, the support of donors immediately after the disaster and over the past five years helped drive the progress clearly evident today.
In marking the anniversary of the disaster, UNICEF and its humanitarian partners look forward not just to recovery in Haiti, but meaningful and positive change and every new generation of its children.
Here’s the response your donations helped deliver.
1. Clean, safe water
In earthquake-affected communities, UNICEF reached 600,000 people latrines and hand washing points to help reduce the spread of disease. More than two thirds of households were supplied with drinking water and, now, 6 per cent of households, nationally, have something as simple as a place to wash hands.
Before the earthquake: 20 per cent of children had no access to safe water
After the earthquake: 65 per cent of surveyed households have drinking water
2. Help for children displaced or left without care
Half a million children were deemed to be extremely vulnerable and, with its partners provided family tracing services and centres where children could be offered recreational activities and psychosocial support.
After the earthquake: Haiti’s national Child Protection system is stronger.
3. New, earthquake-resistant schools
With 90 per cent of schools in the worst-affected areas destroyed and closed through damage. Many teachers lost their lives in the earthquake and educators needed to be trained to reinstate lessons.
Today, through rebuilding of schools – many to withstand future earthquakes – the training of teachers and encouraging school attendance more children attend primary school than ever before.
Before the earthquake: Less than 50 per cent of children six to 11 years in primary school (2006)
After the earthquake: 77 per cent of children aged six to 11 years attend primary school (2012)
4. Disease prevention for the youngest and most vulnerable
The health of children was threatened, and with one in three Haitian children, five year and under, chronically malnourished before the earthquake, action was needed to establish therapeutic feeding.
Before the earthquake: 10 per cent of children, five year and under, were acutely malnourished
After the earthquake: Today, 5 per cent of children, five year and under, are, acutely malnourished
5. Rebuild a better health system
Temporary health and immunisation clinics were built while plans to rebuild the 30, of 49, hospitals in the affected area were made. Haiti’s population had only four doctors for 10,000 people before the earthquake, and with so many injured on January 12 and needing ongoing health care after the earthquake, medical resources were stretched to their limit.
To curb the risk of preventable disease, mosquito nets were distributed along with medical kits to combat malaria and routine childhood immunisations organised.
Before the earthquake: Routine immunisation coverage among children was at 58 per cent
After the earthquake: Routine immunisation coverage among children is more than 80 per cent
Five years on from the Haiti earthquake disaster, the challenge for UNICEF and its partners is to maintain these positive results, how to maximise them, how to reach the most vulnerable children and how to assist the Haiti Government in assuring children’s development and well-being will always be a top priority in the national agenda. Making the rights of every child in Haiti a reality is our individual and collective responsibility. We can bring about change: today, tomorrow and every day of the year.