Editorial of Marc Vincent, UNICEF Haiti Representative

Young children, waiting outside, during an inauguration of a school

The 2017 is about to come to an end, it has been a year rich in intervention for UNICEF Haiti. We have supported the actions of the Government of Haiti and reinforcing its capacities in the areas that have been linked to survival and development of the children. Our actions are guided by our mandate which is the wellbeing of all the children.

It is the principle of equity that guides us to allow the most vulnerable children and families and those living in the most remote places to benefit from a life-saving humanitarian intervention. UNICEF has been on all fronts this year 2017.

Among other actions:

-The certification of foster families is part of one of the alternatives to placement of children in institutions. We also proceeded to the Certification of ” Schools Friend of Hygiene” with partners. Children will be able to evolve in a healthier environment.

– UNICEF has also contributed to strengthening the health system by providing technical support to the MSPP and developing community health systems by training community health workers and strengthening the network of health workers. These agents will help save lives.

– From January to September, more than 32,000 children aged 6 to 24 months and 22,000 pregnant and lactating women received several micronutrients to improve their diet and fight iron deficiency anemia.

In addition, we continued with our interventions in the departments affected by Matthew:

  • UNICEF enabled access to safe water to more than 640,000 people since the passage of Hurricane Matthew.
  • 120 schools damaged by Hurricane Matthew have been rehabilitated, which facilitated the return to class for over 30,000 students. More than 10,000 items of school furniture were provided in 139 schools, and 27,000 children received psychosocial support.
  • In 2017, a total of 10,628 children under five with severe acute malnutrition and 7,381 children with moderate acute malnutrition were treated. More than 32,000 children 6-24 months of age, and 22,725 pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients.

Due to climate change, cyclones are becoming more and more devastating. Strengthening awareness of risk and disaster management is a priority. We held consultations with young people in the South and Grand’Anse, the two departments most affected by Hurricane Matthew. Awareness also goes through our youth and adolescents.

2017 is leaving and 2018 is already knocking on the door. There will be new challenges, because the important thing is to capitalize on the good results recorded but also to correct those who deserve to be. Nevertheless, the goals will remain the same, creating an environment that allows Haitian children to develop their full potential.

We must strengthen the fight against cholera, victory is at hand, we can eliminate cholera.

I send a special greeting to all the children of Haiti, to our partners, and I wish you all a happy holiday.

 

Marc Vincent

Representative

ACAT in Nirva a model of continuity

The ACAT committe with partners Zanmi Lasante and UNICEF

The locality of Nirva (Department of Centre) is one of the first to be declared “End of open defecation” (ODF). Since the committee “Community Approach to Total Sanitation (ACAT) is doing everything possible, between hygiene awareness and home visit, to allow the community to continue on this good start. Cholera has virtually disappeared in this community.

“ACAT has had a major impact in the community. Before, cholera was wreaking havoc. Community members came together to solve the problem by helping people build toilets so that it does not happen again, “says Wilfrid Moise, chair of Nirva’s ACAT committee, who is satisfied with the current situation.

The locality has 150 families, there were only 66 latrines. As part of the ACAT, people have built nearly 42 latrines. Nirva is part of the communal section of Grand Boucan.

André Aimable, a member of the community, still remembers the difficult times the population had to go through, concerning the spread of cholera. “The ACAT is an extremely important experience for us, because before the parents had a lot of sadness. When their children had cholera, by taking them to the treatment center, they did not know if the children would come back alive, “he recalls.

DINEPA, UNICEF and Zanmi Lasante came to them, raising awareness about the importance of latrines and promoting hygiene. They decided to take part in the program.

Difficulties to accept the project

A Latrine with the tipitap

Initially it was not easy, as members of the population expected to receive material or financial assistance to build the latrines. This was even more difficult, as at the same time other organizations were building free latrines. The committee members showed patience and pedagogy to convince people to agree to build the latrines themselves.

“We had to explain to them that they will be the big beneficiaries of these latrines. Because it will be a considerable gain for the health of their children and for them too. We all need these latrines and we are witnessing the ravages of cholera, we have to get together to get there, “says Casséus Mercidieu, another member of the committee.

To dig the holes of the latrines, it needed willpower and courage. The committee members gathered at the end of the day by helping the people of the community. There was a snowball effect and everyone wanted a toilet. The toilets are built with the means of the edge, either in straws, in cloths, and rarely in concrete.

The community was declared “End of Open Defecation” (ODF) in February 2015 and there is a big testimonial party. “Since then we have never had a case of cholera in our community,” says Casseus, satisfied.

A coalition of all partners for monitoring

Jean Montas, Community WASH Officer, within Nirva, is responsible for hygiene awareness. He admits that he has no free time because he must make regular visits to the homes to make sure that certain hygiene rules are respected. For example, if the latrines are clean, if the openings are covered, if the tipitap (sort of gallon for washing hands) are in good working condition. Hygiene awareness is raised in schools, in churches, and in all places of assembly. Jean Montas puts the emphasis on the measures to be applied to avoid catching cholera.

He wonders when he can take a vacation. “But we belong to the locality, we must help people, it is the mission that I gave myself,” he says.

UNICEF supports Zanmi Lasante, implementation partner in Central Plateau. It is executed with the support of the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) and the Ministry of Public Health and Population.

Rapid response teams: a real rampart against cholera

A rapid response team in the Department of Centre

The numbers of cholera cases have significantly reduced in 2017. They have never been so low. The new Cholera strategy has paid off. At the center of attention are the rapid response teams, who are true warriors. The members will fight cholera in the targeted departments, in good weather or rainy weather. Mainly in the department of Centre (Plateau Central), where the distances to be covered are sometimes immense. UNICEF is one of the key players in the fight against cholera in the country.

Mirebalais, November 23, 2017-The all-terrain car is rolling on the rocks, the road is not good. It is necessary to zigzag between the crevasses, to avoid the mud. It rained last night, but conditions are acceptable to reach Menaj, a locality close to the town of Laschaobas (Centre).

ACTED’s rapid response team, UNICEF’s partner, with their recognizable green T-shirts from several meters, is on the warpath. They come to conduct an awareness session. But the community is quiet because today is market day. However, there are still people who will be able to listen to messages and receive hygiene kits if it’s needed.

A member of the team with a loudspeaker has already broken off to bring together the people who are present. In the empty valley, his voice is echoed. He managed to gather about twenty women and a few children. Men are in the fields.

Important to continue awareness

A sensitization session

The team begins to raise awareness about hygiene. Today, the team is there for a reinforcement of awareness. It usually takes place after the distribution of hygiene kits. These kits contain soap, oral rehydration serum, and aquatabs (chlorine tablets) and a pail with a robinet.

“You have to wash your hands in crucial moments, before eating and after getting out of the toilet. Use treated water for your health and that of your children’’. After these messages, the team asks the residents who do not live too far to bring the water they use to test the chlorine residual, to check if they have followed the instructions.

The activities of rapid response teams consist of three parts: investigation, response, awareness. “Regarding the situation for the Lower Plateau, it’s pretty quiet because we went from 38 cases per week to 14 cases and for the moment it’s only 7 cases,” says Jennyfer Joseph, cholera project manager for the Lower – Central tray.

To travel long distances

One of the biggest challenges for rapid response teams is returning to the long distances they must travel to reach remote locations. Sometimes it can take hours or even days. Because they must sleep on the way, to continue their activities and to make sure that everyone is sensitized to the principles of hygiene.

“In some mountainous places, even mules cannot pass, but we have to go if there are cases of cholera. It’s part of our mission. Sometimes we do missions of several days in these localities to reach everyone, “recalls Nadia Delmond, emergency team leader for Acted, recalling that the reception of people is always positive.

152 schools received hygiene certification.

On November 21st, the hygiene certification ceremony of 152  schools took place at the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince.

Certification Ceremony of 152 Schools at the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince on 21 November 2017.

Certification Ceremony of 152 Schools at the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince on 21 November 2017.

This activity was organized by the Ministry of National Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Population, DINEPA, UNICEF and several other partners including the Inter-American Development Bank.

The project/program officially launched in November 2014, aims at the constitution of a number of model schools, in hygiene, in each of the ten departments of the country. In order to receive their certification, the 152 schools had to comply with a number of standards and criteria related to hygiene, water and sanitation.

Deserving schools represented at the ceremony all demonstrated during the inspections that they had available toilets and latrines, handwashing points near the toilets, the availability of water for everyday use and that technical supervision was provided by school inspectors and engineers. School principals also presented their commitment and participation in hygiene education and the establishment of a functioning health club in their respective institutions.

New hygiene behaviors

Mrs. Emeline Rafael, director of the Lycée des Jeunes Filles of Jérémie.

Mrs. Emeline Rafael, director of the Lycée des Jeunes Filles of Jérémie.

“I find that there are a lot of differences because now we are trying to create new hygiene behaviors among students. Says Emeline Rafael, director of the Jérémie Young Women’s High School, just after receiving her plaque confirming the certification of her institution.

“They are given guidelines but it is up to them to manage their own health conditions, they are young teenagers from 11 to 12 years, they understand very well what we expect from them. They are asked to set up committees and give them instructions on hygiene. They are taught to have positive behaviors, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom if not, they do get sick and go out of school. If we are not in good health, we will not stay in school either, says the director.

“The certification of the schools is an absolute necessity. The analysis of the situation carried out in 2012 gives the following figures: 25% of Haitian schools have drinking water installation, 50% have functional toilets, 69% have handwashing station. 52% of them teach hygiene or promote it.” Said Mr. Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative during his remarks.

13 schools supported by UNICEF

During this first evaluation in 2017, of the 17 certified schools in the departments of the Center and Artibonite, 13 are supported by UNICEF (9 in the Center and 4 in the Artibonite). 8 other schools in Artibonite are ready and awaiting evaluation for their certification.

The schools that UNICEF helped rebuild across the country, after the January 12 earthquake are all equipped with toilet blocks with possibility of collecting rainwater because the issue of water can be a challenge in some parts of the country. UNICEF also conducted hygiene awareness sessions for school staff and schoolchildren.

“This certification will help to make schools safer. Because of the insalubrity of some schools, they can become a threat to the health of children. School should be a protective environment. We know they are particularly vulnerable to microbes and the health of our children is a top priority, “said UNICEF Representative Marc Vincent.

Still a lot of effort

Despite the success of this program, there is still much work to be done. According to the latest available statistics, the pupil/toilet ratio in Haiti is currently 128, whereas the standards provide for 25 to 50 students per cabin. 72% of the Haitian population does not have access to adequate sanitation and 42% do not have adequate access to drinking water while access to health services is limited. Even though 20% of drinking water control in schools is provided by DINEPA, 73% of schools in the country still have no control over the quality of this water.

In this sense, through the representative of the Director General, Mr. Guito Edouard, DINEPA is committed to strengthening its collaboration in the project to enable the achievement of common objectives for the well-being of Haiti’s children.

All children have the same rights

Mr. Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative during his address.

Mr. Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative during his address.

“UNICEF places a lot of emphasis on equity that advocates for access to care and service for all children without distinction. All children have the same rights. These certified schools are in line with Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 6, which refer to “good health and well-being, quality education, clean water and sanitation, respectively. We need to do a lot more, so that the SDGs, more than accounting goals, become a reality, “said UNICEF Representative Marc Vincent.

The project carried out by the School Health Department aimed to certify over 2 years, a minimum of 100 schools, (10 on average per department), from the point of view ” water, sanitation and hygiene “, so as to propose them as models at national level. With already 152 schools that have been awarded the certification, the country is on the right track.

Hygiene, keys to development

Mr. Charles Ernest Chatelier, Director General of the FAES, declared in front of the room: “Let’s all be friends of the hygiene because it is one of the keys of the development of the country.”

Establishments certified received a plaque of honor. This status will be reviewed every two or three years, after evaluation. A new sticker will then be affixed to the plate in case of maintenance of good hygiene practices. Other institutions will gradually be added to the list, at the level of each geographical department.

“We have to go beyond a simple project. We need to build better citizens, “said Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, Minister of National Education.

Through this program, the Ministry of National Education intends to: make known and propose as models, at the national level, the certified schools; encourage principals, school staff, students, parents and the community to maintain schools, with the support of the School Health Department; to encourage the regular inspection of these schools from the physical, health and educational points of view; Encourage the establishment in these institutions of a health club made up of pupils and operating under the aegis of the Direction and / or the School Council; to show decision-makers and the general public that, as things stand, health is the best gateway to excellence and the quality of education.

The Deputy Secretary General of the UN and the Special Envoy for Haiti visit UNICEF’s Cholera frontline teams

The DSG visiting a family in L’Artibonite (Haiti)

 

 

 

The Deputy Secretary General of the UN and the Special Envoy for Haiti visit UNICEF’s Cholera frontline teams

Haiti, St Michel-de-l’Atalaye, November 4th 2017 – On the occasion of a three-day visit to Haiti, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General (DSG), Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Haiti, Ms. Josette Sheeran, visited UNICEF supported cholera and sanitation projects in the Artibonite department. Accompanied by UNICEF Representative Marc Vincent and other members of the office, the visitors came to witness an approach that combines rapid response with prevention in the fight against cholera, and which has yielded promising results over the past two years. The country is now seeing the lowest number of cases since the beginning of the epidemic in 2010. Yet much remains to be done.

According to latest DINEPA data, 72 percent of the Haitian population does not have access to adequate sanitation and 42 percent lacks adequate access to safe water while access to health care services is limited. One of the locations where access to water, sanitation and health care remains a challenge is Saint-Michel-de-l’Atalaye, one of the epidemic’s current hotspots and the destination of the field visit.

Upon arrival by helicopter, the delegation first visited a centre for the treatment of cholera and acute diarrhoea, and received a briefing from Ministry of health staff. Six patients, including two children were present showing the human face of the cholera bacteria. The visit left no doubt—one death from cholera, is one too much.

Following the treatment centre the delegation went on to observe the work of a rapid response team, managed by UNICEF partner Action against hunger. Within 48 hours after a suspected case of cholera is identified, teams decontaminate the affected household and those in its immediate vicinity, deliver emergency cholera packages—comprised of water purification tablets, ORS, and other hygiene products—and conduct sensitization/education outreach. The Special Envoy for Haiti has noted on a number of occasions, most recently with the Prime Minister of Haiti, that it is this innovative approach that has led to the dramatic reduction in the transmission of cholera. “These are the true heroes,” underlined the SE.

The visit concluded at the village of Peltam, one of the first communities to declare itself free from open-defecation. The UNICEF-supported Community Approach to Total Sanitation (ACAT), accompanies families in 16 high risk communes to eliminate open defecation. Its success is based on the commitment of the local population, especially their hygiene committee. Peltam’s hygiene committee is special – not only does it have an equal number of women and men, it also has two children as members.  “I wanted to do something for our future, and the hygiene committee allows me to get things done,” explains Adziz; who just turned 14. “In a couple of years, you will be seen as heroes.” Said Ms Mohammed. “The present is hard, but if you keep up the hard work it will pay off.”

Tackling cholera requires an integrated package. Surveillance, response and prevention, all three must be in place, and their respective weight adjusted in view of the evolving situation.

“2018 offers a unique opportunity for decisive steps in the battle against cholera”, stressed UNICEF Representative Marc Vincent. Cholera transmission has dropped dramatically from over 18,000 new cases per week at the onset of the epidemic to 250 per week this year, yet eliminating cholera will require more funding

“An average of between 150 and 250 women, children and men continue to be infected every week. We can and must stop this.” It appears that all major players agree on this.

On the first day of the visit, a High-Level Cholera Committee meeting was organized. The meeting served as an occasion for the Haitian Government and the UN representatives to jointly express their determination to achieve zero transmission of cholera. They reiterated their commitment to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including improving access to water, sanitation and healthcare.

At the conclusion of her trip, the DSG noted that “In our visit we saw community efforts by women, men and young people—some very young—who are involved in fighting cholera every day on the front lines. They are driving their own solutions, and together addressing the challenges of accessing water and sanitation. We saw this yesterday in Saint-Michel-de-l’Atalaye, where the community has empowered itself and come up with its own solutions to accessing sanitation by building toilets in many homes and in community spaces, and by supporting people who fall victim to cholera. When they succeed together, even on a small scale, it shows that they and we together can also succeed on a large scale—for all Haitians. They are the real heroes, and we must support them to end cholera in Haiti,” emphasized the DSG.

 

Using ‘’ Facts for life” through popular songs

A choregraphy with ”Facts for life ” themes

On Saturday, October 14th, in the margins of the celebration of the “Global Handwashing Day”, the Gymnasium Vincent (Port-au-Prince) was celebrating an important event for the good of the children: the launch of an album songs inspired by the manual “Facts for life” (“Konesans pou sove lavi”).

Taking into account the playful aspect of singing, its capacity to gather and to raise people’s awareness, beyond differences, this medium has been privileged to convey essential family practices to a large number of people.

Nearly 200 children from the “Orchid” group sang, danced and mimed the key messages contained in the 14 chapters of the document “Konesans pou sove lavi” through the festival called “A la bèl bagay se lasante” (Health is a beautiful thing).

The show was divided into two parts:

-That of singing on the rights of the child has seen nearly fifty children from several schools in the square and who shone one by one the rights of the child by turning in a circle.

– the second part featured a group of children dressed in peasant dress and carrying various provisions on their heads while dancing to the rhythm of the song on nutrition “Three kind of eats”. The room vibrated to the rhythm of the choreography of the tube music from the album “ala bel bagay se lasante” performed by children wearing different style outfits.

However, in the opinion of all, the performances were some more magnificent than the others and the actors outdid themselves to offer a colorful show that raised a collective enthusiasm communicative.

It should be noted that the idea of preparing an album of songs is part of a global strategy to promote essential family practices for the promotion of health and child development. These songs will be used primarily in the health clubs that are an integral part of this strategy and during the realization of various awareness activities.

In general, this album of songs is intended to be an important contribution to the Haitian community in its quest to have healthy Haitian children. It was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Population to ensure that the messages on health and child development it contains are culturally accessible to all segments of the population. Note that the album was produced by the group “Hi” thanks to financial support from UNICEF in the framework of a partnership with the Institute Preventive Health, Environmental, and Community (SPEC).

Mobilization against cholera in public market

A sensitization team

The punching operation against cholera” continues through the West and Centre departments. The various partner organizations have sent their agents to public places to raise awareness about cholera. Public markets are especially strategic because there is a big number of people who go to these places every day.

It is noon this Thursday, October 12, around the market of Gerald Bataille, it is the big crowd, as always. The agents of the Mayor of Tabarre, selected to make the sensitization as part of the operation “punch against the cholera”, are already at work dressed in their green T-Shirt and Caps with slogan “Yon Ayiti san Kolera “(A Haiti without Cholera). For this session, a team of UNICEF and the French Red Cross accompany them.

The agents, very active and expressive, explain to people, the precautions they must take in order to avoid catching cholera. “You have to wash your hands in key moments, wash fruits and vegetables with treated water, cover food and drink clean water,” among other things, there are the messages conveyed. Leaflets on cholera are also distributed to people.

One of the merchants was full of praise for the field workers. “I am very happy to have all this knowledge about cholera. This will protect my family and myself. In addition, the explanations of the agents are clear and simple, “she explains.

Cholera is still present

Distribution of leaflets on cholera

“My job is to educate merchants, buyers by insisting that cholera is still there. And they must take precautions to avoid getting the disease by applying hygiene principles, “says Rolph Moise, one of the sensitization agent.

At the beginning it was not easy for outreach workers, because of a certain reluctance of people who did not want to listen to them. There was even hostility. “Now people are more receptive. They listen to what they are told. There is now some familiarity with them. Because we have been trained for work and we know how to approach them, “he continues.

A Behavior Change Strategy

The communication component of the “punch operation” focuses on changing the behavior of the population. This strategy engages and empowers communities and networks to influence or strengthen social norms; it uses all media (interpersonal, group, mass) to achieve its goal.

“Inter-personal communication is a strategic axis of the process of behavior change because it allows to discuss with individuals to understand the reasons for change. It is within this framework that this initiative has been introduced in the markets to reach a large number of people. “said Ghaffar Gomina, UNICEF Development Communication Specialist (C4D), adding that” community engagement is an effective way to strengthen behavior change “.

The main objective of the “punch operation” is to achieve a national incidence of less than 0.1% by the end of 2017. Awareness-raising activities also take place in the departments of the West, Artibonite and the Central Plateau. This project received financial support from the Embassy of Japan, the Canadian Embassy and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.

One year after Hurricane Matthew, Haiti’s children still vulnerable to natural disasters

A devastated locality in Grand’Anse

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 4 October 2017 – One year after Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the Southwest of Haiti, causing loss of life and considerable damage, children and adolescents in the Caribbean country are still incredibly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters and extreme weather events, UNICEF warned today.

“Hundreds of thousands of children had their lives turned upside down by Hurricane Matthew,” said UNICEF Representative Marc Vincent. “The courage and determination of families to recover and begin to rebuild their lives is admirable and UNICEF is proud to be one of the organizations continuing to support them.”

“After Matthew passed, I thought it would be virtually impossible to continue living. All the trees were uprooted … But people are beginning gradually to recover,” according to Bernard, 14, originally from Roche-à-Bateau, a southern commune badly affected by Matthew.

A water treatment and filtration plant in Grand’Anse, supported by UNICEF

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, UNICEF mobilized its staff on the ground to respond to the most urgent needs, sending emergency aid for affected children and families, including clean water and sanitation.

UNICEF, working with the Haitian Government and partners, has been able to carry out the following actions during the past 12 months:

  • More than 550,000 people have benefited from access to drinking water.
  • 120 schools damaged by the hurricane were rehabilitated, facilitating the return to school for more than 30,000 schoolchildren. 139 schools received more than 10,000 school furniture items and 26,000 children received psychosocial support.
  • More than 28,000 children benefited from psychosocial care, assistance and nutrition, health and hygiene education. More than 24,000 people received information on violence, child abuse and gender-based violence (GBV).
  • More than 160,000 children have been screened for malnutrition in the departments of the South and Grand’Anse in an ongoing screening program. The results show the need for continuing care with7,443 cases of acute malnutrition reported including 2,343 cases of severe acute malnutrition and 5,100 cases of moderate acute malnutrition.

 

In addition, UNICEF had organized a series of consultations with adolescents in Grand’Anse and the South to enable them to express their concerns and ideas about risk and disaster management, with the results shared with local authorities. .

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Notes for editors:

UReport: In order, not only to inform but also to listen to young people, UNICEF Haiti has just integrated the global initiative UReport. The focus will be on child protection in Haiti. To access:  https://ureport.in/

Interactive Map: The experience of staff and communities in affected areas is also visible on an interactive map that gives details of actions and needs on the ground. To access it visit: http://bit.ly/2yNoYbA

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.

For photo and video content please visit here.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information, please contact:

Cornelia Walther, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Haiti, cwalther@unicef.org

Joe English, UNICEF New York, +1 917 893 0692 jenglish@unicef.org

 

 

UNICEF distributes equipment as part of “punch operation”

The partners of ”punch operation”

The punch operation is a new strategy against cholera underway in the departments of the West, Centre. Its main objective is to “achieve a national incidence of “<0.1% by the end of 2017” and specifically to “reduce transmission as low as possible before the high transmission season (September to December) in terms to be closer the objective of elimination “.

The Ministry of Public Health (MSPP), with technical and financial support from UNICEF, emphasizes community mobilization and engagement of local authorities. To do this, two strategies have been put in place:

  • One with the town halls during which nine town halls of the department of the West deployed 25 sensitizing agents in about 20 markets of the city. In addition, outreach activities are carried out by city council officials in community organization and funeral businesses in order to reduce the risk of contamination following poorly managed deaths.
  • The other with local organizations that make itinerant communication in bus stations with public transport vehicles and in churches with high concentration of people.

To accompany all these communication activities, UNICEF distributed awareness-raising materials to partners in order to intensify the fight against cholera.

It was in the UNICEF warehouse, side that the distribution took place in the presence of representatives of the Haitian state and of organizations involved in the fight against cholera. The material contains flyers, stickers, educational cholera boards, t-shirts, caps, bags, posters and megaphones.

Partners strengthen the fight

In a short speech, Dr. Nathan Zéphirin, Technical Advisor in the Health Decentralization Support Unit (UADS), said that the MSPP cannot win this fight without the collaboration of the partners.

Loading of a part of the material

“We are counting on you, especially as part of this activity, to raise awareness, so that we can definitively eliminate cholera in Haiti, by 2022 as defined in the cholera elimination plan. “He insisted. He went on to say special thanks to UNICEF, which “has been a constant partner in the fight against cholera”.

For his part, Paul Christian Namphy, National Cholera Response Coordinator for the National Directorate for Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA), insisted on the concrete actions to be taken on the ground in order to put an end to the disease. In particular, he emphasized the support of the population to change their behavior.

Further, he insisted on the gestures that can help to eliminate cholera: washing hands in key moments, drinking treated water, going to the toilet. “DINEPA, the MSPP and the governmental wardship bodies, we will together ensure with you of this victory,” he addressed the organizations.

A new strategy

The communication component of this ‘’punch operation” against cholera pursues two key objectives: engaging local authorities; strengthen community participation in awareness-raising activities for behavioral change.

Beyond the community mobilization phase, the operation also includes an action phase. 15 additional rapid response teams are deployed in the western department and are able to respond to more than 85% of suspected cases and to strengthen prevention, mobilization and awareness.

 

Back to school. Back to normality. Nearly

Fort-Liberté. September 11th – It is Monday. One week after the school year started officially in Haiti, schools are once again making a timid effort to reopen their doors. Everyone is eager to turn the page on Irma, yet reality hasn’t quite caught up yet. Even though 12 out of the 13 shelters were evacuated yesterday to ensure that schools can reopen today, some of them are not ready to host their students.

The student of the Lycée Duty Boukman resume their classes. This school served as a temporary shelter for a short time.

Together with UNICEF colleague Brice, school inspectors and NGO partners, I am part of a joint assessment mission whose purpose is to find out which schools have been flooded or damaged during Irma. The ambition is to focus the limited resources where they are most needed, to make sure that all students can get back to the classroom quickly.

But the challenge goes beyond school infrastructure. “Many of our teachers and the families of our students have seen their homes flooded during Irma. They are not in school because they are busy recuperating what can be saved.” Explains us Maitre Jean Baptiste, the director of Mebane school. Indeed out of the six schools that my team visits three didn’t have students today, and the others had only a small part of their usual effectif.

All the students have yet to resume classes

Access is another issue. Already challenging to reach in the dry season some schools are circled in by mud and small streams as a consequence of heavy rainfall. In the attempt to reach the school of Beudoux, on top of our list because of reported damages, our car gets stuck twice. And only the expertise of Gabrielle our experienced driver saved us from pushing to the shore.

Irma has lifted the fine veil on existing vulnerabilities. “I came to the shelter because the place where I live was flooded. My parents died during the 2010 earthquake, so now I stay with the woman I work for. To make a living I am transporting things from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and back. It’s a while that I haven’t gone to school. It’s too expensive.” Explains Renel, 14 years old. He came to the shelter and once it closed he returned to his life at the margin of society…

The schools, roads, homes that are most affected by Irma are those that were struggling already before. In St Martin, the Storm was strong and crushed solid infrastructure; in Haiti it was soft und weakened further what was fragile before. Mother Nature is giving us another nudge, another lesson on the vital importance of structural investment to unveil Haiti’s sleeping potential. Irma today is not about emergency relief, but about a thorough commitment to local communities. UNICEF is supporting them on their way back, back to school, back to normality, forward to the Future.

 

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