UNICEF: A year after Matthew

Students from a School in the South, rehabilitated by UNICEF with their new bags

Port-au-Prince, October 4, 2017 – One year after Matthew passed over the country and ravaged the South and Grand’Anse, the affected people are still healing their wounds. But there are also visible signs that life is trying to resume its course. The gardens are beginning to give fruit, some houses have been rebuilt. Even if the marks of the disaster are still there, Haitians want to move forward.

The courage of Haitian families and communities who have recovered from so many catastrophes is admirable. And UNICEF is proud to be one of the organizations that provide ongoing support to vulnerable families, especially the children.

As in the past, UNICEF was among the first to respond to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew; as administrative procedures have been simplified, teams joined those already in the South more quickly. During emergencies, no waste of time. People needed everything, it was necessary to find means of protection for children in temporary shelters, distribute drinking water, provide nutrition services, control cholera – including the identification and treatment of suspected cases, and so many other needs to be filled, quickly.

UNICEF has worked with the Haitian government and partners to provide this humanitarian assistance as soon as possible. Matthew’s record has been catastrophic, the cyclone caused losses of life, houses destroyed and agriculture in these areas were devastated. People have coped with dignity. It is up to the humanitarian partners and the government to provide sustained support.

A UNICEF team in the field during a psycho-social activity

We take this opportunity to acknowledge the selflessness and courage of our UNICEF colleagues who, during this period of emergency, have been on all fronts. This is to help the organization fulfill its mandate of the well-being of children. We also thank all the donors, both institutional and individual, who allow our actions to go directly to the most vulnerable families and communities.

Getting up from a disaster is not easy. Especially since the conditions were already precarious in these places. However, it is necessary to continue the support to the population as well as the awareness on the risks linked to the disasters.

One year after Matthew, we are facing a choice; natural disasters have always existed, they will continue to exist (Irma and Maria, are still in the minds). Haiti, on the cyclone route, as well as other countries in the Atlantic, has no choice but to adapt. If we want to avoid the painful episodes caused by the vagaries of the weather, we must prepare ourselves.

The dialogue initiated by UNICEF through consultations with young people in Grand’Anse and in the South aimed to raise awareness of the issue of risk and disaster management. Many admitted that they did not know what to do during the cyclone. They thank UNICEF, because now they know. And they will spread their knowledge in their localities. The UReport project pursues a similar objective – To communicate with the country’s adolescents, collecting their impressions and providing information on a wider scale.

The interactive map, which is part of Togetherness (Ensemble) that we’re launching , reminds us through poignant photos and stories of the progress of the field support. They are no longer cold statistics but human faces. For we must not forget the impact on human beings, nor the role of these in recovery. We cannot afford to forget it.

Going to the most remote areas, to the most vulnerable communities to support the Government in the quest for basic social services that are accessible, is our goal. Before, during and after Matthew – our goal is to enable children to achieve their full potential, without distinction, as our motto says: “For every child …”


Marc Vincent

UNICEF Haiti Representative 

Babies and mothers worldwide failed by lack of investment in breastfeeding

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 1 August 2017 – No country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a new initiative to increase global breastfeeding rates.

70th Anniversary! UNICEF Haiti, closer and closer to the Haitian population


A child smiling in Bainet ©MaxenceBadley

Under the slogan ” Yon Chans pou chak Timoun ” in Creole, ” A Chance for every Child ”, UNICEF Haiti staff supports the principles of engagement, empowerment and reinforces the resilience of affected populations. Two months after hurricane Matthew struck the South, Grand’Anse and Nippes departments, a chance for every child has gone from words to actions as reconstruction efforts are well underway and more-remote communities continue to be reached. These efforts, these children, receive the fullest possible support from UNICEF.

This Sunday, December 11 2016 our organization celebrates its 70th anniversary. The United Nations Children’s Fund was mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to defend children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and foster their full development. Today UNICEF works tirelessly in the most difficult places in the world to provide vital assistance, long-term support and hope for children whose lives and future are threatened by conflicts, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.

UNICEF has been active in Haiti since 1949, responding to the urgent needs of children and women; victims of hurricanes and epidemics which hit the country often in the post-war years. Later, on July 21, 1983, UNICEF signed an Agreement with the Government of Haiti, and since then has been assisting the Haitian State in its initiatives to strengthen health, protection, education, nutrition, water, sanitation, and access to hygiene programs.

Today, we are closer than ever to Haitian children.


Jeff Medais 7 and his nurse Miss Daphné in an Acute Diarrhea Treatment Center in Moron in the department of Grand’Anse ©MaxenceBadley


UNICEF has worked tirelessly since the before the arrival of Matthew, the devastating hurricane that hit the country on the night of 3- 4 October 2016. Already on 3 October, UNICEF prepositioned vital supplies in anticipation of the post-hurricane needs of more than 10,000 people. These supplies were able to be distributed quickly to the most affected families in severely damaged areas, and included water bladders and chlorination tablets, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.

As a result of the hurricane, many of UNICEF’s activities are concentrated in the most-affected Departments of Grand’Anse, South and Nippes.

To be closer to the affected children and their families, UNICEF has opened an office in Les Cayes, in the South Department; and another office in Jérémie in the Grand’Anse Department, intensifying our presence and our actions.

UNICEF, with the Ministry of Health and PAHO/WHO, recently delivered cholera vaccination to 756,191 people including over 288,000 children aged from 1 to 14 years in the affected areas.

In January 2010

In January 2010

While the emergency response is taking place in the departments of Grand’Anse, the South and the Nippes, the rest of the country continues to benefit from UNICEF’s programs of child protection, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, and social policies to reach every Haitian child.

We have been present since 1949 to respond to Haiti’s emergencies. We were present when the Haitian State ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1994. We were here on 12 January 2010 during the terrible earthquake that rattled the island. We were here before, during, and after Matthew, and we will stay present; working together to achieve a Haiti in which every child is born safe, flourishes, develops to her/his full potential, enjoying protection and education while having access to the health and social care services necessary to maintain good health.

Bon fèt UNICEF ! Happy birthday UNICEF!


Marc Vincent

UNICEF Representative in Haiti


Race against the time

Jeremy, 10 October 2016 – Finally I am in Jeremy. The road from Les Cayes took about three hours. With every kilometre we advance towards the West of the country the ugly face of Matthew’s aftermath sinks in further. It is difficult to express in sufficiently visual words the devastation. Thousands of thousands of trashed trees and houses. In every village we pass people are in front of their houses (or what is left of them) seeking to put together, to salvage, to restore the remaining fragments of what was once their livelihood.

Les Cayes, the leaf of a schooling exercise book at the beach

Les Cayes, the leaf of a schooling exercise book at the beach

Reading that 70 to 80% of the people here are affected by Matthew sounds shocking on paper, driving through Grand Anse it becomes reality. And what we see are only the areas close-by the road; there are areas in the mountains that still remain unreachable. Many have received no aid since the hurricane subsided, and no one knows if and when they will.
Today the schools officially reopened. In the most affected areas 100,000 children didn’t return to school, and no one knows when they will. We are working with the Ministry of Education to device temporary solutions. On a positive note – travelling to Jeremy we pass Catiche, seeing a solid, yellow building, all standing including the bright blue roof. It is one of the 15 schools that UNICEF had built with the Ministry in 2013/2014 – the anti-seismic, anti-cyclonic design has certainly paid off.

Upon arrival in Jeremy we are off to meet with colleagues on the ground who have been on site from the day the road opened, last Thursday. Since their arrival they are rushing against time to set-up safe water for the most affected people. The water system was weak before Matthew and is now in large parts dysfunctional. In collaboration with the Government and NGO partners water chloration points are set-up to ensure the water that people fetch is safe, bladders are set up in points of dense population and water trucking provides water in the hardest hit locations. While finding temporary solutions to the immediate needs, the planning of a medium term solution is underway, with the organisation of water-treatment systems that will be able to treat several thousand litres of water per day. The threat of cholera is looming large. 2016-10-09_haiti_cayes_matthew-143
We visit one of the five cholera treatment units managed by UNICEF’s NGO implementing partner in Grand Anse department. It had been badly damaged yet is now anew operational. An average of 30 new patients arrives every day. People arrive with the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting; at the Center they get oral, or in serious cases intravenous rehydration (you may remember yesterday’s mention of the truck-load with Oral rehydration salt and ringer – this is what we saw in precious use today).  “When my daughter started to vomit I was pretty sure it is cholera. In a situation like this one when people have no clean water this is usually what happens.” Tells me Saran, who brought his daughter this morning. It took him 30 minutes’ walk. His little one is better now, even able to smile anew. His tale about the past days is the same that we heard from families in Les Cayes, ‘Kay kraze’ – our house is destroyed. He was a mason but hasn’t gone back to work yet. It remains to be confirmed in the laboratory whether the numerous diarrhea cases that were registered over the past days are actually cholera, but whether diarrhea or cholera, left untreated either may kill a child.

Next stop on our agenda is water chloration station at the source of La Digue, where the majority of people get their water. In every water-truck an agent from one our NGO partners puts a small bucket of chlore, and in every jerrycan that someone comes to fetch two water purification tablets are put (which had been part of the supplies that were prepositioned pre-Matthew and increased since with several truck-loads). All action is done in collaboration with the Haitian Government and its representatives at the department level.

Tomorrow we’re off to follow a rapid response team which will investigate cholera alerts in Pestel, two hours drive from Jeremy.

Merci & Mesi

Cornelia Walther

My heroes, your heroes, our heroes in Haiti


Watch Rosemaine's story

Watch Rosemaine’s story

Since a few months, UNICEF Haiti travels the country in search of young heroes and heroines who bring their solutions to the problems of the country.

Education, nutrition, water, sanitation, child labor in support of their families, protection of child rights, our young heroes and heroines are the spokesmen of the children of Haiti. They show us their reality and the everyday solutions that they have found to keep moving forward.

At the time of this writing, we have put in pictures the story of six children. We will release these videos at the rhythm of one or two per month until mid-December at key dates chosen for their correspondence between the news agenda and the issues illustrated in the stories of these children.

We took the side of showing that the youth of Haiti are heroes who take their future into their own hands without waiting for help. Far from the image of charity or donation in a logic of waiting who may traditionally conveyed, these children show us the strength, the will, the courage, and offer us inspiration, hope, joy.

If they get there, so why not me, you, us?

A month ago, when celebrating the International Youth Day, we proposed a sneak preview of one of these videos, the one of Clifford (see our article At the border, following the steps of a child hero) Our young audience reacted with great emotion “Despite the misery and difficulties, he fights and he manages to realize his dream,” “He has many convictions. He showed courage and determination, “” Life can be successful with the will and conviction, despite the difficult situations experienced”, they said.

The interactive map of the campaign "My Heros"

The interactive map of the campaign “My Heros

The children of the videos are not actors. These are true stories, these are models that give off an incredible force. You will see sad stories but never people that give up. You will see patience, determination, tenacity. Heroes’ qualities.

As stated in the videos campaign, our heroes have the will and we can help them on the way but it is not only about these children.There are many of “Clifford”, “Rosemaine”, “Edyl”, “Djolanda”, “Peter” and “Rosemana”. Every child has the potential and the right to be fully realized, to overcome the difficult situations and to live his-her dream. This is what our young Haitian heroes teach us.

6-enfant-pic-2-format-timounyoTheir courage and determination combined with an adequate support and a prompt boost to ensure respect for their rights, are enough to open the door to a better world.

Better world that they want others to benefit. As you will see, one of the common points of our heroes and heroines is their concern to help and their willingness to act for a better world by becoming either a nurse or doctor, planting trees or making ideas to improve the living conditions in the country and in our society.

Some believe that these children are heroes. We are convinced! But you, what do you think of it?

Leave a comment on our blog, our Facebook page or our Twitter account.

This week , meet Rosemaine from Bainet, a water champion that helped her brother beating cholera.






Strengthen the promotion of breastfeeding is the big goal

2016-08-07 SMAM 2016- The Rep MV and babies-UNICEF Haiti-Miragoane (18)

Talking about breastfeeding is to explain its benefits and how it can save children’s lives. Together we can enhance advocacy so that all families, even in the most remote places, are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding raise healthy and happy children.

2016-08-07 SMAM 2016- Moms and babies-UNICEF Haiti-Miragoane (23)What is stronger than celebrating life? Because that is what it is in these few lines. Talking about breastfeeding is to explain its benefits and how it can save children’s lives.

World Breastfeeding Week 2016 make the link between breastfeeding and the objectives of sustainable development. As the global theme indicates “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development”.

Breastfeeding is widely recognized as the best method of infant feeding. As for the child’s health and that of the mother. Because breast milk provides substances that are perfect in terms of nutrition for human babies, and protect them from diseases.

Despite a fairly good knowledge of the benefits of nutrition, this resource is not used to its optimum level. According to the latest data of “EMMUS V” although 97% of children were breastfed, only 47% of them received an early initiation within the first hour after birth. And less than 40% were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.

The promotion of breastfeeding has been identified as an important focus of the communication strategy for nutrition developed in 2013, in order to increase early initiation of breastfeeding (within the first hour after birth) and to enhance also the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

2016-08-07 SMAM 2016- The Rep MV and babies-UNICEF Haiti-Miragoane (7)The efforts helped to exclusively breastfeed almost 500 000 children between 2013 and 2016 The numbers on the global nutrition encourage us to redouble our efforts: 1 in 10 children under 5 years is underweight (11%), 1 in 5 children is affected by chronic malnutrition (22%), 1 in 20 children shows signs of severe acute malnutrition (5%).

Breastfeeding can play a significant role in improving these numbers. And an integrated approach will enable us to increase the level of nutrition.

UNICEF supports the Haitian government in its effort to make children of Haiti much healthier. Our actions on the field alongside the various state bodies go in this direction. Our actions for the current  and future years follow three main strands:

  • Reinforce t2016-08-07 SMAM 2016- Moms and babies-UNICEF Haiti-Miragoane (8)he strategy for the eradication of malnutrition with a focus on two departments; Grande Anse and Southeast.
  • Advocacy for increasing the government budget on nutrition, with the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).
  • Support for exploring additional funding opportunities (SUN, REACH, 11th EDF) to support the government.

We want the impact of awareness on breastfeeding to be sustainable. We want it to be reflected throughout the country. And in this sense, the role of the press is significant in popularizing this information.

Together we can enhance advocacy so that all families, even in the most remote places, are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and raise healthy and happy children.