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Haiti - six months after earthquake, conditions remain 'extremely harsh'

Six months on from the earthquake which devastated Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding  towns and villages, conditions for many of the country’s inhabitants remain extremely harsh.

More than 1.5m people still live in makeshift, overcrowded camps with poor sanitation and security, and insufficient food or clean water. With the arrival of the hurricane season, many face the additional risk of serious flooding. 

The earthquake in January killed 220,000 people, and damaged or destroyed more than 180,000 homes and nearly 5,000 schools. Bodies are still being recovered from the ruins six months on. Roads were made impassable and government offices  and other public buildings reduced to rubble.      

Although it’s estimated that rebuilding will cost a total of US$11.5bn and take 5-10 years, a US$1.5bn United Nations flash appeal launched in the immediate aftermath of the quake is still 40 per cent short of its target. Of $11bn pledged by donor nations for reconstruction in New York earlier this year, only US$100m has been delivered.

Christian Aid in Haiti is today managing a relief budget of just over £10m. Partner organisations it funds have distributed food items such as rice, beans, sardines, oil, maize and yam, as well as hot meals. Medical care has also been provided, including a clinic to treat malnourished children.

Cash handouts have been given to help revive the local economy and water tanks built and agricultural tools provided. Work has also gone into raising awareness about waste management, and ensuring that women are not disadvantaged in the reconstruction process.

The top priority now, however, is building safe and robust accommodation for the homeless. Prospery Raymond, Christian Aid’s Haiti country manager, said: ‘Many of the homes that were destroyed were rented and the landlords had no insurance to allow them to rebuild. In many cases they had no documents to even prove that they owned the land.

‘So far, relatively few houses have been built and the tents many live in are designed for brief summer holidays rather than as medium or long term shelter. These are already beginning to decay and will not provide adequate protection if a severe tropical storm passes.

‘The main challenge now is finding land on which to rebuild in what is in many parts a very cramped urban area.  Between them, both the church and the state own much of the prime land in Haiti. We hope that they will consider making some of that available to allow rebuilding to take place.’

Christian Aid has a long-standing programme in Haiti combining emergency relief and long term development. Details of our work there, and our Haiti appeal, at:  

www.christianaid.org.uk/haiti-appeal

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Christian Aid duty press office: 07850 242950

In Haiti, Sarah Wilson from Christian Aid available for TV and press interviews. Call  07930 341 525 or Skype: ca-swilson

Notes to Editors

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development. Since the earthquake, ACT Alliance has raised more than US$120m for Haiti, with more than US$70 million so far committed to emergency and reconstruction efforts. Working directly or through more than 20 local and national partners, ACT members have assisted more than 341 000 crisis-affected people in Haiti.  Further details at www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.