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

After being diagnosed for malnutrition, Wisedarlene is getting better, 10 months after

A psychosocial activity, part of the program

Following Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the Department of Grand’Anse, UNICEF, with funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), supports the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), through local organizations, to help children suffering from malnutrition.

Through the Foundation for the Development and Supervision of Haitian Families (FONDEFH), several hundred children from the Department of Grand’Anse, from 0 to 59 months, have benefited various nutritional care. This care which varies regarding the diagnosed cases and the community context, can either take the form of community awareness activities for parents on infant and young child feeding practices, or consist of: the provision of micronutrients for the prevention of malnutrition, or therapeutic milk and plumpy nut for management and treatment.

On the other hand, with the Departmental Initiative against Child Trafficking (IDETTE), a follow-up is done to provide socio-economic assistance to the families of diagnosed children, through income-generating activities (IGAs), home visits, and psychosocial support.

Story of Wisedarlene

A training against violence

Lineda Jean lives in Bariadelle, a small locality, close to the town of Dame Marie (Grand’Anse). A mother of three, including little Wisedarlène, she still remembers this trip to the Dame Marie Community Hospital to take her daughter, spotted by the community-based health workers (CHWs).

She still remembers the date of the hospitalization of her little Wisedarlène born on December 23rd, 2016, then aged 5 months: “It was May 19, 2017, I went with her to the hospital because she was sick, she had fever and flu. The agents who referred me to the hospital had notified me that the child was going to be hospitalized, because it was only 4 kilos, incompatible with his age, “she says.

After 12 days of hospitalization, Wisedarlène, who was suffering from severe acute malnutrition, weighed 5.5 kilos upon leaving the hospital. Weight still insufficient, but that situation satisfied her mother at that time who does not want to miss any of the appointments scheduled by the medical staff. “I have to go to the hospital every eight days to follow Wisedarlène’s progress (take his weight and measure his MUAC) and get the 18 packets of plumpy nut”. Currently, “Wisedarlène (10 months) is 7.4 kilos,” she concludes, almost double what she weighed 5 months ago.

Lineda Jean continues to look after her daughter’s well-being by regularly going to her appointments, continuing her breastfeeding, and following the advice of doctors and nurses for her nutrition. She considers herself happy and testifies: “I am very satisfied to have had this opportunity that other parents do not have it”. With the support provided by IDETTE through its AGR program, Lineda, a single mother, now has a financial activity selling soft drinks. This allows him to partially meet the needs of his family.

UNICEF, with the support of its donors, including ECHO, continues to contribute to the respect of children’s rights and the improvement of the living conditions of families, including those living in rural areas, and victims of natural disasters.

 

 

 

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).

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

 

 

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.

 

Stay posted

Haiti – Preparation and lessons learnt made the difference

Fort Liberté, September 10th – 48 hours have passed since Irma’s soft passage. In the words of the departmental head of the Education Ministry in the North East, Irma was a ‘failed hurricane’. And yet, there is still an aftermath. With my colleagues Abner and Brice, who had been stationed in the North from the middle of last week to prepare for Irma, I had the opportunity today to visit shelters in Ouanaminthe and Fort Liberté, the most affected areas.

A school used as temporary shelter.

In total, 13 shelters had been opened in schools, churches and teacher centers, hosting over 5,000 people who had sought refuge at the onset of the hurricane. Some will find their homes flooded when they return home.

“I have eight children and my house is under water. We lost everything so I really hope that the authorities will help us,” said Susanne, 40 years old.

Yet, most were lucky. Predictions of Irma’s destruction were more daunting than her actual touch. Based on the current situation, the schools that had served as shelter will be closed today. Once everyone has left, the classrooms will be cleaned.

To facilitate their return, the families who’d settled in these shelters will receive food and hygiene kits before they are sent home. In the most affected communities, UNICEF and partners have established water bladders to ensure drinking water is accessible despite flooded wells.

The shared objective of Government, civil society and UN partners is to make sure that people can return to their normal lives quickly. To avoid any further delay, schools are supposed to reopen tomorrow, wherever possible.

People in a temporary shelter wait for a distribution.

‘Our benches, chairs and books are under water. Everything is flooded. Reopening the school will take us at least three weeks,” according to Frère René who works with Caritas in Malfety. His school is one of many that were impacted by Irma, and a joint assessment by the government, UNICEF and other education partners is scheduled for tomorrow to ensure assistance is provided where needed.

Despite the weekend, everyone is mobilized, pulling the rope-strings in the same direction. Clearly, lessons have been learned and internalized since Matthew hit Haiti one year ago.

Even though the impact of Hurricane Irma was considered minor, its consequences illustrate once again the prevailing vulnerability of Haiti. Small kicks can make the whole pile collapse.

 

 

 

After the storm is before the storm.

Port-au-Prince, 8 September 2017 – ‘Behind mountains are mountains’ says a popular Haitian proverb (In Creole ‘Deye mon gen mon.’), which applies perfectly to the present setting.

On National Road 6, not far from the town of Ouanaminthe, several small villages suffered significant damage. The houses of the inhabitants have been flooded and many have seen all their property lost or damaged.

Hurricane Irma has spared us most of her rage. The night was wet, yet less destructive than expected. As I write these lines UNICEF teams are on the ground in the affected areas to assess the actual damage and deriving needs in close collaboration with the Government. Already it appears that flooding is the main problem.

As hundreds of children, women and men lost their homes and found refuge in temporary shelter colleagues on the ground do their maximum to make sure they get assistance fast. The prepositioned supplies turn out to be major asset to get things moving. Yet the alert is not lifted. In the wake of Mrs Irma comes her successor…

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) there are currently three hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, Irma, José and Katia. The last time this happened was in 2010. As Irma carries on to bring wind, storm and rainfall to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas heavy rainfall remains possible over Haiti, the Dominican Republic and northern Cuba. Beginning late tomorrow severe hurricane conditions are expected over parts of Florida.

a UNICEF team in the direction of Ouananminthe and Fort-Liberté.

As assessments proceed in the North East and the North West of Haiti the main priorities for UNICEF are water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, including containing the risk of diarrheal diseases – such as cholera; protection for the most vulnerable children and adolescents, and psychosocial support to those who are most affected.

At the same time efforts are deployed to re-establish the education system, to avoid that the use of schools as temporary shelters delays even further the beginning of the academic school year, which had just started. Finally, to ensure that violence and abuse are prevented and addressed UNICEF supports the Government in the monitoring and reporting of issues in high risk locations, in particular in shelters.

The coming days will show what the actual impact of Irma is. This Weekend I will travel to the North to meet families and hear they stories. Stay posted!

Thank you

 

Update: While we publish this article HURRICANE Irma has weakened to a tropical storm

 

Using precious hours before Irma hits

Port-au-Prince, 7 September 2017 – It is calm outside. As clouds are gathering an eerie tranquility reigns in the streets. There is little traffic since schools have been closed as a precautionary measure; businesses were open this morning but by midafternoon everything has closed down. Everyone is waiting..

A gray sky

In this atmosphere of sweltering expectation the UNICEF team is working at full speed. Both in the central office in Port-au-Prince where we have only a minimum of staff working today to reduce the risk of exposure, and in the North where program specialists support the Government in getting things ready on the ground. Everyone pushes forward to get a maximum done as long as this is possible; setting the stage so that help for children can start as soon as Irma has passed.

Irma is moving towards the West at a speed of 24 km/h, with torrential rain, storm surges and life-threatening winds along her path. Tales of destruction have started to trickle in from islands on her way. In Barbuda ninety per cent of all buildings are reported as destroyed or severely damaged; telecommunication systems in the island are down and power supply remains off. Covering a space the size of France Irma keeps barreling in our direction, coming closer one turn at a time.

4 Million people live in the four departments that are most at risk of the current trajectory, approximately 40 percent are children under 18 years old. Being already vulnerable in ‘normal’ settings, children and women are always the most vulnerable in disaster. They are our priority when Irma hits Haiti, and the efficiency of our response will be key to reaching a maximum of children, fast. Everything is done under the leadership of the Government, and UNICEF is actively supports the coordination mechanisms that have been activated at central and departmental levels. Our shared ambition is to ensure concertation and collaboration of actors, hereby maximizing the impact of everyone’s resources.

Stocks with critical supplies are prepositioned with civil society partners in the North and North East, North West and Artibonite, and additional stocks are ready for dispatch from the South and West which are likely to be less affected. Safe water is a priority in the first hours after a disaster strikes. Based on past experience stocks include aquatabs and chlore for water purification, and hygiene kits to ensure a minimum standard of drinking water and sanitation – crucial aspects to prevent the outbreak of diseases. Furthermore plastic-sheeting and blankets are included as families who lost their homes and belongings will be exposed to the elements; there is also ready to use therapeutic foods (RUTF) for the treatment of malnourished children; and some school-in-a box kits to facilitate the reopening of schools as soon as possible. Further priorities will include protection for the most vulnerable children and adolescents, and psychosocial support to the most affected children and adolescents.

 

As seen during Matthew last year this return to school can prove to be a major challenge as families who lost their houses seek shelter in schools (which are often the only solid buildings in their area) and have nowhere else to go once the storm has passed. Identifying alternative accommodation as fast as possible is one of the tasks that UNICEF, the Government and various Education partners have started to work on in preparation of Irma.

As I write these lines I am about to leave the office, the rain is gushing down like a shower. Stay dry, and posted please

Irma Haiti, Blog #2

 

 

Preparing for Irma. UNICEF Haiti’s team deployed at the frontline

 

Port Salut, 6 months after the passage of hurricane Matthew

Port-au-Prince, September 6th, 2017 – I am waking up to battering rain. Irma is coming closer. Packing winds of 185mph, Irma is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record.

Exceeding the available measuring scale level 1-5, Irma is far stronger than Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane that devastated Haiti’s South and Grand’Anse departments just one year ago. Irma is barreling across the Caribbean with many island groups and millions of children, women and men in its path. Those who are at the most immediate risk are families in the less well-off Caribbean islands who live in fragile housing. They face potentially catastrophic consequences. Millions have been urged to prepare, and some are taking cover in emergency shelters. Listening to the rain drumming over my head I think of those families who live in makeshift homes that barely stand straight in normal weather. What will their lives look like in 48 hours.

A UNICEF staff during a teacher training in the North, 3 weeks ago

Yesterday UNICEF has started to deploy teams to the locations that will most likely be hit hardest once Irma reaches the Haitian shore. Their expertise covers children’s crucial needs – Water and Sanitation, Health, and Nutrition, Education and Child Protection. Starting beginning of the week Emergency stocks have been prepositioned via the Government and civil society partners in the areas at risk. These include those supplies that will be most needed during the immediate response when access to clean water, shelter and basic social services becomes scarce.

It is hard to imagine that only three weeks ago I visited Cap Haitian. Three weeks that feel like a closed chapter of the past. Wondering whether the schools and smiles that I got a chance to see will still be there at my next visit.

As a reminder – in October 2017 Matthew affected 2.1 million people, of which 1.3million were children. UNICEF’s emergency response, done in close partnership with the national Government kicked-in immediately, with key interventions centering around water, hygiene, education, protection, nutrition and health, while at the same time responding to the spread of cholera. This work continues as the affected populations’ transition to normality. Among other results efforts over the past 11 months allowed rehabilitation of 75 schools with 25,000 students returning to the classroom, access to drinking water for 400,000 people, and access to medical attention for 80,000 people in affected areas without operational health centers.

Our office has entered the emergency modus. All efforts are concentrated to make sure that children will get the life-saving help they’ll need once Irma is gone. Stay posted.

 

 

UNICEF calls for the protection of all children with the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma

A part of Haiti shores

  • Hundreds of young people in areas under high alert are receiving information via UNICEF’s U-Report tool to help them prepare for the emergency (@UReportGlobal)

 

PANAMA CITY (5 September 2017). In the last few hours, storm Irma has turned into a powerful Category 5 hurricane, the highest possible level in the Saffir-Simpson scale. The hurricane looks likely to be accompanied by strong winds and storms through its likely path through the Caribbean. If it continues in its current track it will bring devastating damage in the next few hours in the territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Maarten, St Kitts and Nevis and the Virgin Islands. It is then expected to hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, directly affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, adolescents and their families.

 

Although it is still early to know the full impact that Irma will have in the region, the main concerns of UNICEF centre around the supply of drinking water and food, and the health and protection of children and adolescents.

Considering the possible magnitude that Irma represents, it is both hugely urgent and necessary to be prepared, informed and vigilant so that we try to avoid the impact on the most vulnerable, that is to say children,” confirms Marita Perceval, Regional Director of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean.

UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean, in coordination with the country offices and headquarters in New York, has activated emergency situation protocols, and is in constant contact with governments, the other United Nations agencies, and partner organisations to offer the required assistance and support.

UNICEF has also pre-positioned supplies of drinking water, unperishable food and medicines, and emergency kits to be distributed in coordination with national authorities in the most affected communities.

To ensure affected populations have direct access to information such as how to cope with the hurricane, UNICEF has activated its U-Report platform, which allows UNICEF to send messages to youth and adolescents that they receive via their Facebook Messenger and social media accounts. The number of youth that have asked to receive these messages has been increasing rapidly over the past 24 hours, particularly in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

UNICEF’s response to Hurricane Matthew

Irma has turned into the most dangerous natural phenomenon of 2017, and is now stronger than Hurricane Matthew of last October, a category 4 hurricane, that battered South Haiti and Southeast Cuba.

In Haiti alone, Matthew affected 3.2million people, of which 1.3million were children. UNICEF actively participated in the emergency response working alongside the national Government in key interventions centering around water, hygiene, education, protection, nutrition and health, at the same time responding to the spread of cholera.

UNICEF continues to work with its partners in the area, and as a result of these actions, has, amongst other results, rehabilitated 75 schools that have allowed 25,000 students to return to the classroom, 400,000 to have access to drinking water, and 80,000 people to receive attention at the medical points installed in the most affected areas.

In Cuba, around 150,000 people lost their belongings in the province of Guantanamo, and 90 per cent of houses in Baraoca were affected. Hurricane Matthew also affected more than 290 education centres in the province of Guantanamo, and caused damage to 96 per cent of schools and day care centres in Baracoa district.

Approximately 6,500 girls and 8,000 boys in the municipalities of Maisi, Imias, San Antonio del Sur, Baracoa and Yateras benefited from education and recreation kits donated by UNICEF. Additionally, 153 education centres and 83 communities received early years development kits, that offered early education to more than 12,700 children on the island.

 Contact press 

Cornelia Walther, communication Chief, cwalther@unicef.org