© UNICEF/ NYHQ2010-0022/LeMoyne

Displaced children stand amidst makeshift tents in front of the damaged Presidential Palace, four days after the 12 January earthquake, in Port-au-Prince. The quake further devastated a country already in crisis.

The Humanitarian Action Report 2010 is going to press a few days after the devastating earthquake measuring 7.0 magnitude on the Richter scale struck Haiti on 12 January.  This disaster, affecting an estimated 3 million people, has severe consequences for children and women already struggling for their right to the basic necessities of water, sanitation, education and protection from violence.

While urgently scaling up life-saving relief, UNICEF is simultaneously working with the Government and other partners to support recovery and risk reduction efforts, to strengthen resilience and to reduce vulnerabilities to future disasters.

UNICEF anticipates that the emergency requirements for Haiti detailed in this report will be significantly revised and increased as the scale of the devastation caused by the earthquake and its impact on children and women becomes clearer.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

The impact of the 2008 hurricane season has increased the vulnerability of children in Haiti where more than 4 out of 10 children are living in absolute poverty1. In the post-disaster period, the risks of malnutrition, school drop-out and exploitation of children remain eminent, especially in families who can no longer afford to buy sufficient food or to send their children to school.  Prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under five has reached over 25 per cent in most areas.  Child abandonment is seemingly on the rise. There is growing concern that child trafficking and illegal adoptions are also becoming more widespread in Haiti, a country where it is estimated that around 70,000 children are in domestic service or other form of servitude2.

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

Given the multiple challenges facing children and women affected by recurrent natural disasters, UNICEF’s primary objective will be to work with the Government and partners to prevent a rapid deterioration in the health and nutritional status of the most vulnerable during emergencies. As the lead agency for the Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Education Clusters and the Child Protection Sub-Cluster, UNICEF will coordinate with United Nations agencies and NGOs to reach at least 1.6 million children in affected areas.  UNICEF will also re-double its efforts to improve legal frameworks to safeguard the most vulnerable and marginalized children. Following are the expected results of UNICEF’s emergency interventions:

Health and Nutrition: UNICEF will concentrate on improving access to quality basic health services through strengthening of routine vaccination, nutrition and reproductive health services for 500,000 pregnant and lactating women and 1.3 million children under five in at-risk areas. UNICEF will also coordinate and support the identification and treatment of moderate and severely malnourished children.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): Access to safe water supply and improved sanitation facilities marginalized communities in locations affected by natural hazards will be available for up to 300,000 people, including 80,000 children in 200 primary schools. Water and hygiene kits will be pre-positioned for a potential of 25,000 people affected by an emergency in eight warehouses across the country.

Education: UNICEF will concentrate its efforts on providing access to free education for approximately 80,000 children, including 40,000 affected by potential emergencies. UNICEF will also work closely with the Government to consolidate progress made in 2008, and to improve the educational system through rehabilitation of infrastructure, institutional capacity building and improvement to the education policy framework.

Child Protection: Up to 35,000 vulnerable children, including survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse, in at-risk communities, the border areas and the zones affected by emergencies will have access to medical care, education and other forms of support. UNICEF, as coordinator of the Child Protection Sub-Cluster, will work with partners to reinforce in-country child protection mechanisms through institutional capacity building and the establishment of appropriate legal frameworks in collaboration with the Government.

HIV/AIDS: UNICEF will strengthen Preventing Mother–to-Child Transmission services to reduce vulnerability and exposure to HIV among unborn and newborn children. Provision will be made to treat at least 40 per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women currently living in high-risk areas.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Health and Nutrition 5,400,000
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 2,200,000
Education 2,800,000
Child Protection 2,100,000
HIV/AIDS 500,000
Total 13,000,000

1 United Nations Children’s Fund, Absolute Child Poverty in Haiti in the 21st Century, UNICEF, New York, 2008.
2 Demographic and Health Survey (EMMUS) IV, 2005–2006.