Increase access to water through reforestation

Community involvement in the project

UNICEF with a contribution from USAID is implementing water rehabilitation projects in several departments of the country. One of the important components of this program is the reforestation around water catchment sources to protect and facilitate recharge of the water table and to allow people to have water in sufficient quantity and quality.

In the South, the implementing partner of the project, the Dutch Red Cross, goes to the most remote places by carrying out this program, with the support of DINEPA.

Cayes, September 18, 2018- The locality Mulat (3rd Boni) commune of Tiburon, is one of the beneficiaries. It is a very difficult place to access, and the steep terrain makes it even more difficult to access drinking water. Under the supervision of DINEPA, the Dutch Red Cross, with the support of UNICEF and USAID, conducts drinking water supply activities, such as the construction of a catchment source, a reservoir and fountains to draw water.

On the other hand, reforestation activities are carried out to ensure the sustainability of the project. One of the project leaders at the community level, Saurel Vital, Casec of the section, does not hide his satisfaction as to the realization of the project. “There has been a lot of improvement in the water situation. It was not drinkable and the animals used to soil the water because the source was not protected, “he says.

“It is of utmost importance to plant trees. Our community had a very large vegetation cover. Hurricane Matthew has uprooted the clear majority of trees, making the community extremely vulnerable. The Dutch Red Cross has carried out reforestation projects around built water sources which will help preserve this structure, “he says.

The organization distributed 16,082 seedlings to residents of rehabilitated sources, including 11,900 fruit trees and 4,182 foresters, and organized training sessions on environmental protection. For the entire project, 14 hectares have been reforested on the protection perimeter of 6 sources including 3 hectares in the Mulat area with 2,148 trees including 1,500 fruit trees and 848 forest trees.

“There has been a lot of improvement in our lives since this water project. In addition, we are better aware of the importance of trees. We have received training on tree planting techniques and we will plant a lot more, “said one of the residents. As part of the project 120 people from communities were trained on planting techniques for regrowth trees.

Community involvement made the difference

Everybody was involved

The community quickly became involved in the reforestation project. They participated in the construction of a fence around the catchment source, cleaned up weeds, and sensitized people to prevent animals to eat seedlings. They will continue to plant trees well after the departure of the Dutch Red Cross.

“We welcomed this project with a lot of warmth, everyone was involved. We have set up a volunteer service. The community took part in the transportation of the equipment because it is very far away. Now it is up to us to perpetuate this project. We are making them responsible because the project belongs to us now, “says Vital.

An important project

Joesmy Louis, Agronomist and Livelyhood Coordinator at the Dutch Red Cross, emphasizes the importance of planting specific tree species to help recharge the water table. The trainings allowed people to plant seedlings they had prepared themselves.

To combat the drought that threatened the trees, artisanal techniques were implemented, such as the use of water can on the root of the trees on a regular basis, straws to reduce the impact of the sun.

“People have not been paid to plant the trees. They got up very early, drum in hand in a festive atmosphere, with the participation of everyone for this reforestation movement, “he says. The blending of fruit trees has helped to increase the interest of the population.

A very isolated locality

An important project for the community

The locality of Mulat culminates several hundred meters high. Nestled in the mountains, it is virtually inaccessible. It takes a good driver and a solid off-road car to get there. Because the road is very narrow, traced by the population with the means of the edge, that is to say, nothing.

The big rocks are everywhere, with the sheer cliffs that are ready, worry is omnipresent for all passengers. The road resists even the inevitable motorcycles, they are not seen on the road. The living conditions are very difficult for residents.

Maria Luisa Fornara, UNICEF Representative in Haiti, says that access to clean water helps protect families, especially children from disease.

“In line with the principles of equity that guide UNICEF, our interventions are done across the country. With a focus on hard to reach places where the population is very vulnerable. We thank the Haitian government for its support and the people of the United States for this funding which has allowed us to facilitate access to drinking water for these families, “she concludes.

The vegetal cover around the sources plays several roles. In fact, forest soils retain the rainwater that makes its way to the aquifers, allowing them to be recharged. Riparian forests avoid runoff of acidic soils in freshwater lakes and rivers that would be highly affected. They reduce floods, limit floods, prevent soil erosion.

 

Fight drought in remote Southern communities

A water tank at Ti Plaine ( South departement)

The locality of Tiplaine, located in the Southern department, has suffered greatly from drought episodes. Its isolation makes the situation of people living even more difficult in terms of access to drinking water. UNICEF, with a contribution from USAID, together with the Dutch Red Cross, has rehabilitated the water system in the area, including building a catchment, a reservoir, a water system capable of to feed the residents through fountains. All under the supervision of the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DINEPA).

They do not know how to thank the donors, because now it’s a relief for everyone, so much has life changed in the locality. Training for plumbers makes the network sustainable.

Cayes, 17 September 2018- A broad smile cuts the face of Smart Joseph, ASEC (a local authority) of Tiplaine, when she speaks of the water network of the locality.

“Before the installation of the network, the situation was untenable within the area in terms of water. The place where we used to draw water was very unhealthy, there were a lot of rocks, trees were everywhere and it was very difficult for us. For some people, they had to walk more than an hour, back and forth. There were many people who drew water and the flow was very low, “she recalls.

The water was not drinkable

Not to mention the poor quality of water that was not drinkable and that was a source of illness of any kind for the population, especially children. The water was drawn from the ground. People caught all kinds of illnesses. The children had pimples on the skin and on the scalp as well as waterborne diseases. In the case of women, they faced a serious problem in terms of personal hygiene.

Josette Blanc, one of the beneficiaries and mother of three children, remembers all the difficulties she encountered to be able to draw water that was not even drinkable. “The situation was so critical that we did not know what to do. It was God who sent UNICEF, USAID, the Red Cross and DINEPA otherwise we would all already be dead because the cholera was wreaking havoc “, she admits.

She had serious skin problems because of the water. “Now my skin is healthy and I am cured because of the new water network,” she says.

People are more than satisfied

A Red Cross technician conducting control quality

“With the arrival of UNICEF, the Red Cross, USAID and DINEPA who built this network, the situation has improved considerably, we no longer face the same problems. It’s different, kids are healthier, “she says.

People welcomed the project with open arms, she said. Other areas started work well before them. But their enthusiasm and energy allowed them to finish before the others. People have been trained on water management so that everyone is aware of the importance of drinking water, how to protect themselves from germs, handwashing, and more.

Plumber training that made the difference

As part of the project and sustainability of the works, on the proposal of DINEPA, there have been training sessions for plumbers who manage drinking water supply systems (SAEP) of the various networks of the South. Thirty plumbers took part in the workshop.

The plumber of Ti Plaine, responsible for the system did not hide his satisfaction. He was particularly pleased by the fact that his plumber assistants benefited from the knowledge he gathered during the workshop. “They can take over the system when I’m not there,” he said, emphasizing the unconditional support of the people for the realization of the project.

Keep the network in good condition

Several thousand trees have been planted around the catchment sources to conserve water. Seedlings were distributed as part of the project. There have been trainings to raise awareness about the importance of trees. “Many people went to plant trees,” says Smart Joseph. Indeed, the Dutch Red Cross has also trained on tree planting techniques and provided nurseries which allowed the reforestation of 2 hectares on the perimeter of protection of the source. In total, 1 530 trees, including 1050 fruit trees and 480 foresters were planted by the communities. This will increase the plant cover and protect the newly rehabilitated source.

A Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Committee (CAEPA) – made up of community members – was set up and trained on these tasks and responsibilities by DINEPA according to the national protocol in order to ensure the management of the system. of water supply. Also at the community level, people living on pipes and fountains in support of CAEPA ensure cleanliness, sensitize people and hunt animals, so that everything is always clean.

“We must be able to sustain the system because it belongs to us,” said one of the leaders.

This project is very important for UNICEF, DINEPA and USAID because it integrates the construction component of water access systems with that of sustainability through the training of stakeholders and the preservation of water resources. These two elements being the guarantee of the continuity of the service of water in the localities synonymous with the eradication of waterborne diseases.

The project aims to respond to the critical water needs of people living in drought areas and at risk of food insecurity and under-nutrition.

 

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

 

 

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.