Haiti still in ruins a year after earthquake

Media Releases article written on the 06 Jan 2011

In a new report released today, international aid agency Oxfam finds that almost a year after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti nearly one million people are still living in tents and under tarpaulins.

The report, called From Relief to Recovery, has been released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Oxfam Australia’s Emergencies Manager Richard Young said despite the success of emergency lifesaving aid after last year’s earthquake, long-term recovery from the disaster has barely begun.

“The relief effort undertaken in Haiti after the earthquake has been one of the most complex humanitarian responses ever, but while rebuilding the country will not happen overnight there has simply not been enough progress,” Mr Young said.

“It is astounding to think that almost a year on 95 per cent of the earthquake’s rubble remains. Building houses for people currently living in camps cannot be started on a large scale until it is cleared.

“The earthquake destroyed 105 000 homes and today nearly one million people are still living in tents and under tarpaulins because only 15 per cent of the required basic and temporary houses have been built.”

The earthquake created an estimated 20 million cubic metres of rubble, which could fill enough dump trucks parked bumper to bumper to reach more than halfway around the globe.

The report blames the lack of progress on the combination of Haitian Government indecision, narrow donor aid priorities and a lackluster interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was established to support the coordination of reconstruction efforts.

Mr Young said despite the damage and instability created by the earthquake there is a once in a lifetime chance to address many of the issues that have held back the country’s development.

“Haitians are in desperate need of public infrastructure projects such as road building that will put people to work and build skills, support to return home or land for new houses and a greater investment in agriculture,” My Young said.

“The Haitian authorities need to make decisions that reflect the needs of their people, and the international community should do everything they can to improve the capacity and accountability of Haitian institutions to deliver.”

For a copy of the report click here or to interview Richard Young or Oxfam staff on the ground in Haiti, please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.

Notes to editors:
• Well over $US1 billion was raised for the emergency response to the earthquake through bilateral aid, private donations, and assistance from international financial institutions.

• This unprecedented generosity has saved and is still saving lives: more than 3.5 million Haitians received food aid, 700 000 people have been employed in cash-for-work programs, more than half a million tarpaulins have been given to homeless people and 1.2 million people continue to have access to at least five litres of safe water per person per day.

• With the vital assistance of donors including the Australian Government and public, Oxfam is providing aid to over one million people as part of two emergency responses: one for earthquake relief and one to respond to the cholera epidemic that has swept the country since October 2010, killing over 2600 people.