Haiti: Six months after the earthquake, more than 4 out of 5 schools destroyed or damaged are yet to be rebuilt
PORT-AU-PRINCE/ PANAMA CITY/ NEW YORK, February 14, 2022- Six months after the devastating earthquake that struck southwest Haiti, more than 1,000 schools in the most affected departments of Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes are yet to be rebuilt, leaving an estimated 320,000 children to study in environments that are not conducive to learning, UNICEF said today.
“Ensuring children can go back to school is not only a moral imperative, but also crucial for their health and mental health, nutrition and general well-being,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. "After six months, reconstruction is most definitely underway. Nevertheless, hundreds of schools are still in ruins. Without schools, many children may abandon their studies. Rebuilding educational infrastructure and providing students and teachers with learning materials is urgent and fundamental if we want children to recover a sense of normalcy in their lives.”
Despite significant response efforts in a very challenging context, more than 260,000 children are still in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
"The earthquake that devastated the regions of the southern peninsula deprived people of vital access to basic social services. Thousands of women and children still depend on mobile health clinics for treatment or water trucks to get clean water,” said Maes. “Without adequate access to water, food, health and education, scores of children and women are in immense and urgent need”.
The nutritional and health needs of children affected by the earthquake are significant, and often unaddressed since many health facilities are yet to be rebuilt. In earthquake affected areas, there is an urgent need for clean water and hygiene services to avoid the resurgence of waterborne diseases such as cholera, after three years without a single case reported in the country.
On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the departments of Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes, and three days later, battered by heavy rains caused by Tropical Depression Grace, affecting 800,000 people, including 340,000 children. According to official data, more than 2,200 people died, some 115,000 homes, 97 health facilities and 1,250 schools were destroyed or damaged.
UNICEF was one of the first actors on the ground to distribute humanitarian assistance to victims. Within 24 hours of the earthquake, UNICEF sent six emergency medical kits containing essential drugs and other supplies to care for 30,000 people, including children, in affected areas.
UNICEF's response on the ground in collaboration with the Haitian government and other local and international partners included:
- 234 temporary learning spaces are under construction in 38 schools. Rehabilitation of 900 classrooms in 150 damaged schools has begun. More than 74,000 students and 1,600 teachers have received learning and teaching material, with U-Reporters contributing to the distribution efforts in their communities.
- Deployment of mobile health clinics in 18 municipalities most affected by the earthquake and strengthening of more than 27 health institutions for the restoration and continuity of primary health care. 10 health centres are being rehabilitated by UNICEF partner NGOs.
- More than 52,000 people, including 15,800 children, have benefited from integrated health services, including nutritional assistance, psychosocial support, and intensified efforts to promote access to COVID-19 vaccines.
- UNICEF prepositioned emergency nutritional supplies to care for 27,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in the Nippes, South and Grand’Anse affected by the earthquake. 4,800 under-five children have been treated for moderate or severe acute malnutrition.
- Over 23,000 hygiene kits, including soap, home water treatment products and menstrual hygiene kits have been distributed to serve 121,000 people, including children.
- 440,000 people, including children, have been reached with access to drinking, cooking and personal hygiene water through the rehabilitation of 22 drinking water supply systems, capacity building for water production and distribution by water trucks.
- 171 unaccompanied or separated children were reunited with their families and provided psychosocial support.
- More than 19,000 girls and boys have benefited from psychosocial and recreational activities in 50 UNICEF supported child-friendly spaces, so that children can gain a sense of normalcy.
At the end of 2021, UNICEF requested US$97 million through the Humanitarian Appeal for Children to meet the urgent needs of 950,000 people, including 520,000 children, caused by the combined impact of the earthquake in 2021, climate-related natural disasters, the persistent political and socio-economic crisis, insecurity due to gang violence, forced returns, internal displacements and COVID-19. So far, only one third of the required funding has been raised. This funding request will be updated and reviewed based on the emerging needs and in close coordination with Haitian authorities and partners.