Approximately 300,000 people lost their lives, 300,000 were seriously injured and 1.5 million were left homeless. The human toll of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 alone sums up the magnitude of the disaster. Since then, AFD has doubled its efforts in support of this bruised and battered country, which finds itself in a difficult political and social situation.
Over the past ten years, 1,700,000 people, i.e. 15 in every 100 Haitians, have thus directly benefited from AFD funding in the priority sectors of agriculture, urban services, health, education and governance. At the end of the reconstruction project, 500,000 people will also benefit from quality care in the University Hospital of Haiti.
For AFD, it is not only a question of helping to rebuild this country, but of rebuilding it on sustainable foundations with firmly-established stakeholders, and by bringing all the stakeholders together, including inhabitants. To achieve this requires extensive involvement from civil society as well as from SMEs in order to reduce the need for external assistance and imports. The specifics of the situation in five questions and answers.
Ten years on from the earthquake, has the country recovered from this disaster?
Since mid-September 2019, there has been a lot of tension in Haiti with demonstrations that are often accompanied by violence. This political and social crisis affects the reconstruction of the island and the implementation of AFD projects. However, ten years on from the earthquake, the country has made significant progress, and AFD has played a role in this with its commitment of €250 million over these years having helped 1.7 million Haitians.
Does the instability in the country allow it to continue carrying out current and future projects?
AFD is committed to ensuring the continuity of its activities in support of Haitian people. Project monitoring and training have continued; during the fourth quarter of 2019 two funds were allocated in the health sector (maternal and child health program and additional resources for the reconstruction of the university hospital). A third is expected to follow in January 2020 for an irrigation program in southern Haiti.
How does AFD ensure that its funding is properly allocated?
AFD ensures that resources are properly allocated at all project stages, in cooperation with Haitian institutions. It follows strict procedures aimed at precisely controlling the use of subsidies, which come from the French state budget or which are delegated by other public institutions, the European Union in particular.
Before each project, preparatory work is carried out in cooperation with the technical ministry or public institution concerned by precisely defining the objectives, expected impact, activities to be carried out, operating mode and contracts to be awarded. AFD then carries out a highly-structured financial follow-up, issuing the funds as the projects progress.
What are AFD's main areas of intervention?
Since 2010, AFD's actions have primarily focused on rural development, food security, rehabilitation of poor neighborhoods and health sectors. In this regard, the reconstruction of the University Hospital of Haiti, which has entered its final phase, is one of the decade's emblematic projects. When it is commissioned, it will enable 500,000 people to benefit from quality care. In the same sector, 900,000 people have also benefited from better quality reproductive health and family planning services.
By 2020, AFD will have contributed to improving the living conditions of 50,000 families by granting them better access to water. In addition, 2,500 hectares of coffee growing areas have been restored, along with 600 new hectares for cocoa cultivation.
AFD's priorities now focus on education and vocational training, as well as the environment. AFD also has ambitious 2021 objectives for the education sector, aiming to contribute to the education of 400,000 children in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, and to provide vocational training to 3,700 young people, 25% of whom are women.
This will involve the construction of 40 primary schools and 20 secondary schools, an upgrade of the pilot vocational training center and support for six training centers in the country.
Will the reconstruction projects carried out over the past ten years prevent a new humanitarian disaster in the event of an earthquake?
When reconstructing the districts at risk, development plans were drawn-up with the inhabitants. They help prevent future risks and protect the country from potential new crises.
Urban development projects have thus enabled the creation of two public squares and the construction of 4,307 meters of pedestrian pathways. Roads have been created, a gully and more than 100 water storage tanks. Retaining walls have also been built to protect neighborhoods from floods or landslides, and pilot urban development projects are being implemented.
In terms of housing, 250 individuals and craftsmen were trained in earthquake-resistant construction techniques. More than 250 houses have been assessed for reconstruction or reinforcement and 325 individual dwellings have already been built or reinforced. Although much remains to be done, things are gradually improving.