"Transition to What?": Special Report on Haiti's Housing and Shelter Crisis
By Haiti Grassroots Watch, Published August 23, 2011
The following is a lengthy, three-part study by Ayiti Kale Je (Haiti Grassroots Watch) on the housing and shelter crisis in Haiti, published on August 23, 2011. It is a comprehensive study that should be a must-read for every person concerned about Haiti’s reconstruction effort.
The study is available in English and French at this web link: http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/journal/2011/8/22/abandonne-comme-un-chien-errant-abandoned-like-a-stray-dog.html Go to the link to see the many informative photos and charts contained in the study. This re-posting here of the original publication indicates the location of photos and charts in the study but does not display them; it does, however, provide the most important links to related reports and news articles.
A related report to this study, “Portrait of a refugee in the Palms region,” is contained below in this posting. You can find the original here: http://www.ayitikaleje.org/9portraiteng
You can read previous reports by Haiti Grassroots Watch on its website, including an earlier report on Haiti’s housing crisis from October 2010 at this link: http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/dossier1story1/ To contribute financially to Haiti Grassroots Watch's very valuable research and writing, go to its website here: http://www.ayitikaleje.org/
--CHAN Website editors
“Transition to what?”
By Haiti Grassroots Watch, August 23, 2011
Part 1 of 3, http://www.ayitikaleje.org/9ont1eng
Léogâne, 23 August 2011 – Blue, pink, white or green. Plastic, plywood, steel, two-by-fours. These are the colors and materials that make up the almost 90,000 tiny houses dotting the hillsides of Haiti’s slums and countryside in the earthquake zones.
But who is getting a “T-Shelter,” so-called because it is “temporary” or “transitory”? And, as one United Nations agency director said, concerning T-Shelters– “Transition to what?”
What is a T-Shelter?
A T-Shelter is a small house built by humanitarian agencies and organizations as part of the standard post-disaster toolbox.
“Transitional shelter is used to house affected households with habitable, covered living space and a secure, healthy living environment with privacy and dignity during the period between a natural disaster and the availability of a permanent shelter solution," according to Safer Homes, Stronger Communities, the World Bank-sponsored "[h]andbook for reconstructing after natural disasters."
Image: Depiction of T-shelter transition. Source: Shelter Cluster (November, 2010).
The construction of transitional housing for displaced people is one of two periods after a catastrophe. The first is distribution of emergency shelter, like tents, and the second is the building of emergency structures (“T-Shelters”), which precedes the construction of permanent housing.
On average, a T-Shelter is one room measuring between 12 to 18 square meters, and built to last at least three years.
It’s lifespan depends on how it is planned and built, because some are simply wooden posts with plastic sheeting, sometimes without doors or windows, while others have a wooden or metal frame, with plastic or wooden walls. Almost all, although not 100 percent, have tin roofs. Some are called “semi-permanent” because the foundations and walls can become part of a larger, permanent home, assuming the beneficiaries have the economic means to make those changes.
They also vary in cost. The price can run from $1,200 plus labor, like the steel-frame-and-plastic shelters provided by Cooperative Housing Foundation International, all the way up through US$4,300, and the price tag might be even higher. The “Shelter Cluster” – the United Nations system that should coordinate, but that does not have coercive power over, the humanitarian agencies working on shelter issues – attempted to get hard figures for a recent study, but didn’t always succeed. (The Cluster system is used by humanitarian agencies after catastrophes. See The Cluster System in Haiti (link) for more details.)
Image: Differing types of T-Shelters. Prices run up to US$4,300. Source: Shelter Cluster
“Agencies were reluctant to share their cost data,” Regan Potangaroa, who worked on one study, explained to Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) in an email.
As of early August, the agencies had built 89,705 T-Shelters, about 30,000 of which are in the Palms region: the coastal zone west of the capital.
Although only a ballpark figure, it’s safe to project that at least US$200 million, and likely about US$300 million, will have been spent on T-Shelters once they are all constructed.
Denigrated as « chicken coops »or « cages à pigeons »by some, and even by officials like Marc Roland Justal, le mayor de Petit-Goâve, thousands of families are grateful to be out of the squalid, overcrowded and dangerous camps, even if they are squeezed into one room with plastic walls.
But, T-Shelters usually don’t go to Haiti’s poorest…
However, not everybody gets a T-Shelter. In most cases, only those with a land title can get one.
And, according to the most recent figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), published in an August, 2011, study, 62 percent of the 634,000 displaced people living in the 1,001 camps – almost 400,000 people – were renters before the earthquake.
In a study by HGW journalists, in nine camps in the Palms region, of 20 people interviewed, 18 said they had been renters. Most of them also reported that agencies had distributed T-Shelters to some of the residents of their camps.
“Only the refugees who have land get a T-Shelter. So far they haven’t said anything to the people who don’t have land,” Sam Brignol, a refugee at the Gérard Christophe Park camp, said.
Brignol knows because, at the time this article was being prepared, he was living that reality. In his camp, housing about 200 or so families, the Lutheran World Federation [LWF] is providing 100 households with what they call “semi-permanent” shelters to landholders.
“After this series of 100, the LWF will examine the possibility [highlighted by LWF] of constructing other shelters, however, we can’t make any promises. That will depend on the funding and the funding sources for this project,” LWF’s Jean Denis Hilaire told HGW in an email.
Image: Map of agencies doing housing-related work in the Léogâne region. Source: Shelter Cluster
The Land Question
All the humanitarian actors – from the agencies on the ground, all the way up to the highest levels of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) – recognize that complications around land tenure in Haiti represent a major, perhaps the major, stumbling block.
Dr. Louis O. Dorvilier, FLM country director, told HGW that, in addition to having their building materials delayed in Haitian customs for seven months, local and national authorities in Léogâne have not been able to make land available for planned, temporary settlements where former renters would also be housed in T-Shelters.
“Since the beginning, the LWF has worked with local and central authorities to try to find a sustainable solution for the population,” Dorvilier said in an email.
In nearby Gressier, where five hectares of land was made available, LWF is building – with local participation – an “integrated village with decent housing, sanitary, electric (renewable energy) and water installations, a community center, a play ground” and zoning for small businesses, according to Dorvilier. LWF sees the project asan example of “rebuild better and rebuild with dignity.”
“We could have done the same thing in Léogâne, but the land wasn’t available,” he added.
Jean-Christophe Adrian, director of UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency concerned with human settlement, and the agency which leads the “Shelter Cluster,” calls the land issue a “major obstacle” for every phase of reconstruction – from beginning to end.
“They don’t give transitory housing to anyone who is not a landowner,” Adrian confirmed, with frustration.
In many regions of the country, other humanitarian organizations tried to get land in the same manner as LWF by asking the authorities to declare land “of public usefulness” so that earthquake victims could be housed, but in many cases, the attempts were in vain.
“We didn’t succeed,” explained Catherine Lefebvre, former Shelter Cluster leader for Petit and Grand Goâve and for the Southeast.
“The authorities didn’t give land for the earthquake victims. The humanitarian agencies can’t take this action. The authorities need to do it. Give us the land, we can build and we will build. It’s always the same land problem,” she said indignantly.
However, it’s not impossible. The “village” of Gressier and several planned camps – like Tabarre Issa and Corail Cesselesse, which together house almost 6,000 families – are just a few of the examples of settlements where the government go involved to either declare land « of public utility«or to outright rent it from its owner.
But if not done well, chaos can result.
In 2010, the René Préval government declared a 5,000 hectare tract – much of it reportedly privately owned – “of public utility” so that humanitarian actors to establish the Corail-Cesselesse planned settlement on 42 hectares. Nothing was announced for the rest of the land, but within weeks, squatters began arriving. Today, some 60,000 people live in tents and shacks on the arid, rocky slopes.
Three images: Land north of the capital declared "of public utility"; Map of Corail settlements; Settlers' homes in Canaan. Source: UNOPS
“It is impossible to overstate the degree to which the land ownership situation in Haiti contributed to the impact of the earthquake and to the complexity of reconstruction,” Priscilla Phelps, IHRC Senior Housing and Neighborhoods Advisor and co-author of the World Bank post-disaster housing book, told HGW.
Indeed, the IHRC website makes a public plea to the government for a more proactive approach to the land issue, proposing that it “complete[s] or abandon[s] appropriations processes for land declared of public utility” as well as “establishe[s] procedures to ensure tenure rights in enumerated informal neighborhoods.”
Leaders will need to be determined and tireless if they want to find a long-term solution to Haiti’s land issue, according to Bernard Ethéard, General Director of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INARA in French).
In an interview with HGW last year, Ethéard posited that most land in Haiti is actually state land that has been stolen or given away by almost 200 years of dictators and tyrants. Consulted by the government after the earthquake, he recommended “state verification of all land titles” and in the meantime, “outlaw all land dealings.” [Read What is the plan for Haiti's 1.3 million homeless? for more from Ethéard, and for background]
Not surprisingly, that advice has not yet been followed.
“Transition to what?”: Part 2 of 3
Corruption and Other Challenges
In addition to the land issue, another challenge for the T-Shelter donors also face challenges related to corruption. During its investigation, Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) found many displaced people and community leaders who denounced the corruption, and even the humanitarian agencies and organizations admitted to the phenomenon.
“Certain beneficiaries are renting or subletting their T-Shelter or are selling off parts of it. There is a real T-Shelter market,” Handicap International noted in the minutes of a meeting of the Petit-Goâve Shelter Cluster on May 31, 2011.
The mayor of that city, Marc Roland Justal, confirmed the traffic, saying he knew of many cases. “It’s a deal. Once the shelter is in place, its demolished,” Justal said in an interview. “Since they are build of plywood, people can resell or rent the wood for construction.”
Not everyone things T-Shelters are that useful… Local authorities as well as representatives of humanitarian agencies have differing opinions on the usefulness of T-Shelters.
Jean-Christoph Adrian, director of UN-HABITAT, the UN agency concerned with human settlement, doesn’t run out of criticism for T-Shelters and their distribution as a response to the housing problem. “Why spend resources on a transitional shelter, if the same money can be given to people to reconstruct, and thus invest in the future?” he asked.
In the field, HGW journalists found a typical victim. François Delous has lived in the Sentra Park camp in Grand Goâve since January 12, 2010. Delouis survives with money sent by ‘New York’ and by doing day-labor jobs in the marketplace. Every once in a while, he can save up US$5 or US$10 to use towards house reparations, but that’s it.
“My home is down there,” he said, gesturing. “It needs repairs. Another house fell on top of it and my baby was killed. I can’t [afford to] repair my home. If I could, I would!” he deplored.
Photo: François Delouis in front of his tent.
Testifying at a hearing in Washington, DC, last fall, earthquake structural engineer and post-disaster expert Kit Miyamoto claimed many earthquake victims – about 120,000 families – could repair their homes with less than the cost of a T-Shelter. “In most cases, these homes can be repaired in less than three days for $1,000 to $1,500,” Miyamoto told an Organization of American States meeting on October 27. “The math adds up.”
But Priscilla Phelps, Senior Housing and Neighborhoods Advisor to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) and co-author of ‘Safer Homes, Stronger Communities,’ a World Bank post-disaster housing book, notes that Miyomoto’s claim is not exactly correct.
“This sounds right on the surface, but in fact there is a significant capacity constraint on housing repairs in Haiti, having to do with the availability of trained contractors, and (to a lesser extent) decent materials. These are constraints that can and should be addressed, but they exist,” Phelps told HGW in an email interview.
In contrast, she noted, it’s easier for agencies to build T-Shelters because the land issue can be fudged, or even avoided if agencies can obtain land for a semi-permanent camp.
Adrianbelieves that “there is money for shelter” but that “the problem is that this money can’t be used for definitive construction because the funding mechanisms are emergency mechanisms, and they don’t permit the building of permanent housing.”
Many of the same agencies that built the T-Shelters had budgets for repairing or reconstructing houses, also. But a look at the numbers reveals where they put the emphasis.
Image: Figures on house damage and repair and reconstruction. Sources: Shelter Clusterand IHRC.
In her email interview with HGW, Phelps regretted that reality. “The claim is often made that the source of funds for T-shelters and the source of funds for permanent housing are not the same (the former being humanitarian funding, and the latter development funding)… but in these days of tight public budgets around the world, it is difficult to believe that the large expenditure on T-shelters has not reduced what may be available for permanent housing.”
Almost 18 months after the earthquake, the emergency phase continues
Almost 18 months after the earthquake, and despite the fact that officially the “emergency” phase has supposedly ended, agencies are still building T-Shelters. Some – like Action Aid in Mariani, south of the capital – are even launching new T-Shelter projects.
Almost 90,000 T-Shelters have been built, with another 26,000 on the way to completion. However, there are more than 634,000 displaced people living in tents in refugee camps. The number of remaining T-Shelters is not sufficient, as the humanitarian actors know.
“There are not enough provisional shelters in relation to the needs,” say the minutes of a Shelter Cluster meeting, held in Port-au-Prince on May 24, 2011.
But the money for T-Shelters has been used up, and even though Shelter Cluster officials, like Cathine Lefebvre, the former head of the Cluster for Petit and Grand Goâve and for the South East department, have encouraged partners “to work for the long-term,” many agencies are actually finishing up the programs, folding up their tents, and heading home.
Indeed, the Cluster structure itself – tasked with coordinating all the various actors working on the shelter issues – is also closing down. “The Shelter Cluster has no more presence in the regions due to lack of funds. It is not clear yet when it will close down and which agency will take over,” Lefebvre wrote to HGW on August 8.
“Transition to what?” Part 3 of 3
Who is in charge and what’s beyond the transition?
One of the biggest challenges to the reconstruction efforts, especially the reconstruction of lodging, has been the lack of leadership.
In fact, Haiti has a social housing agency: the Entreprise Publique de Promotion de Logements Sociaux (EPPLS - Public Agency for the Promotion of Social Housing). Prior to the earthquake it was involved in constructing and overseeing some housing projects, but most have escaped the agency’s control. Residents mostly don’t pay rents to the state and in many cases, EPPLS doesn’t even know who occupies the apartments.
Since January 12, EPPLShas been “very sought after,” Director Elonge Othélot told Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW), although he admitted that its budget has not significantly increased. But, he noted, over the past 17 months he has been to many meetings with national and international organizations and agencies.
“There is an idea to turn EPPLS into a serious institution,” Othélot said.
Idea or not, 17 months after the earthquake, one thing is clear. The EPPLS parking lot is full of rotting vehicles and it has yet to construct or even repair a single home.
Photo: Yard of EPPLS, full of rusting vehicles.
All actors recognize the leadership vacuum problem. A PowerPoint prepared by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) housing team eight months ago didn’t beat around the bush. The presentation, obtained by HGW, listed as major challenges:
• Multiplicity of non-governmental actors in the reconstruction
• Multiplicity of public organisms with part of the power; no agency overseeing the whole; absence of global policy.
Interviewed even earlier, in October, 2010, the then-coordinator of the Shelter Cluster was already publicly highlighting the lack of leadership problem, calling for “all levels of the government to get together and speak with one voice.”[See part 1 of ‘What is the Plan for Haiti's Homeless?’] (The United Nations mechanism used after disasters, the "Cluster system," can only make suggestions. The Clusters lack the power to make decisions. That must come from the government. See The Cluster System in Haiti)
That was almost a year ago. This month, almost the same observation.
Priscilla Phelps, Senior Housing and Neighborhoods Advisor for the CIRH, told HGW that a stronger government presence might have assured a better use of some of the T-Shelter funds.
“In the absence of a policy dialog about the pros and cons of different uses of the humanitarian funds for shelter, and of any specific requirements, the international organizations chose the solutions most practical for individual organizations to implement,” she said, adding: “It is hard to fault them for these decisions.”
More recently, a UN mission to Haiti “deplored” the general lack of coordination for development assistance. According to Le Nouvelliste, following a visit earlier this summer, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), noted that “[the] coordination of international aid is not sufficient. This leads to duplications and reduces the efficiency of the interventions,” adding that “the dispersion of activities is often lamented.”
Beyond the transition
To focus solely on the 116,000 T-Shelters would be to give a skewed picture of the reconstruction. In fact, several large-scale housing construction and reconstruction projects have been approved and are already in the works.
For example, 17,000 homes will be repaired or built from the ground up as part of a project that will transform the Delmas 32 neighborhood in the capital.
All told, the big projects approved by the CIRH, funded by the World Bank, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), various bilateral donors, and the Haitian government, total $254.5 million and would fix or build 41,759 homes will be repaired or built from scratch. [See chart in part 2]
But a closer look at the numbers reveals :
•The amount spent on T-Shelters – likely between US$200 million and US$300 million – is about the same what is currently available for the major housing construction and reconstruction projects. Who audits these budgets to see where the money goes, anyway? HGW asked five agencies for figures, but only heard back from one.
•A total of 68,025 homes will be repaired or built by the humanitarian agencies and the big, CIRH-approved projects. That’s an impressive figure. But it is less than half the 171,584 homes were damaged or destroyed on Jan. 12, 2010 (according to the IHRC.)Even if one generously estimates that one-third of the T-Shelters (38,280) can be made into permanent homes, that still means that only 106,305 homes are to be repaired or built. What about the other 65,279 dwellings?
•Whether or not they were necessarily well-conceived, the René Préval government’s two big social housing projects in the capital – Fort National and La Piste, which were slated to serve 8,000 families – have been halted, at least for the moment.(A smaller project for La Piste is reportedly going forward.)
•At least 5,400, and perhaps more, of the new homes will be constructed near the new North Industrial Park, a huge assembly factory park which was already in the planning phases prior to the earthquake. While it’s not impossible that earthquake victims will inhabit those homes, it seems unlikely.
•None ofthe large projects is slated for the Palms region.
•Finally, most of the construction and repairs will be for home- or landowners, not renters.
Indeed, the government-approved “"Neighborhood Return and Housing Reconstruction Framework” notes that "[r]eturn and reconstruction will not change the tenancy status of earthquake affected households: the goal is to restore owners and renters to an equivalent status as before the earthquake, but in safer conditions."
Among the solutions being discussed for former renters are grants, although a final consensus, number and strategy have yet to emerge.
In the meantime, the rental stock has declined considerably at the same time as rents have risen. According to the Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d’Informatique (IHSI), prices for the combined category “Housing rental, energy and water” are up over 16 percent since the earthquake.
Today, 17 months after the earth shook, the over one-half a million people living in mostly squalid camps can’t even count on the tiny shelter they have. Landowners and city officials continue to carry out expulsions, which are illegal according to international law.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which oversees camps, 58,993 people at 93 sites were evicted or “partially evicted” by landowners between June 2010 and May 31, 2011.As of May 31, 2011, IOM counted 133,484 “threatened with eviction."
Image: Graphs of camps and numbers threatened with eviction. Source: IOM
The new government, which says it opposes the evictions, but which has so far not intervened to halt them, appears to be taking a more determined approach to the housing and resettlement issue, according to Phelps. "The Martelly government is defining a clear strategy for housing and neighborhood reconstruction, and is already advancing with its implementation," she told HGW.
Indeed, Martelly recently organized a “Reconstruction Week.” Among other activities, he unveiled plans to rebuild ministries, announced a new fixed-rate mortgage program called "Kay Pa M" (My House) and inaugurated a “housing exposition” of model homes. He also inaugurated "400 in 100," a project of the government Fonds d'Assistance Économique et Social (FAES - Fund for Economic and Social Assistance) agency.
Using a $30 million BID grant, FAES promised to build 400 new homes for earthquake victims in Zoranje, north of the capital. The homes are part of a project which will construct 2,000 homes, at least 400 for North Industrial Park workers.The Building Back Better Communities housing exposition – with 64 model anti-earthquake homes chosen out of some 300 competitors during a one-year series of contests and conferences – cost another US$2 million. The resulting model homes mostly sell for between $10,000 and $20,000. With most Haitians learning less than US$2 a day, and un- and under-employment pegged at about 65 percent (65%), chances are the vast majority won’t be able to buy a home, let alone the land on which to put it.
Photo: One of the model homes on display.
Kay Pa M, the new mortgage program is equally restrictive. Aimed at people who have had a full-time, private or public-sector job for at least three years, have “a regular and sufficient professional revenue, a valid property title” and “a construction permit,” like the expo houses, the program is clearly meant for a specific public.
It certainly will be useful to the country’s small middle classes, but it leaves Haiti’s homeless out in the sun, the rain, and the cholera.If there were any doubt about what the Martelly-led reconstruction will look like, that was erased the during Reconstruction Week when the president announced “It is understood that there will be no gifts of housing.”
Phelps and the CIRH housing team don’t necessarily disagree with this approach. In a presentation called “Building the Bridge While We Walk On It” and prepared last April, they suggested multiple strategies to get people out of camps and into transitional settlements, rapid repairs and construction of rental units, and “a unified financial assistance strategy for households,” but didn’t mention free permanent homes for previous renters.
Phelps did say, in an interview with HGW, that she hopes there will funding and mechanisms enabling more participation from affected communities, since “People are almost always better at solving their own problems than outsiders." And, she added, “a critical need is still for resources to reinforce the institutions of the government of Haiti.”
Lawyer Patrice Florvilus, who heads the Office of Oppressed People Defenders and which assists eviction victims, agrees with the crucial role the state must play. “If the situation is the way it is today, if the NGOs are wasting money, the first instance responsible is the Haitian state. Because it is the one in charge of controlling all the institutions functioning in the country,” he told HGW.
Since January 12, Florvilus added, “both the NGOs and the state have failed. In fact, their failures call into question the structure of our state.”
But Flovilus does not think the current government, or the current state, is up to addressing the structural reasons behind the huge death toll, the land issue, and the vast inequalities in Haiti. According to Florvilus, land expert Bernard Ethéard [see part 1] and others, most “private” property is actually state land that was handed out by various regimes to its friends.
Florvilus noted, “Only 5% of the population has legal land titles. And when the so-called landowners want to do an eviction and you ask them to go court, they won’t go.Because they don’t really have titles!
“I heard someone say… ‘The people in the camps didn’t have homes before the earthquake anyway.’ Yes, it’s true. They didn’t have homes! Now is the time for us to question the structure of our society.
“Why does one category of people have homes and another does not?”
“Being broke is nothing…”: Portrait of a refugee in the Palms region
By Haiti Grassroots Watch, August, 2011
This article is a supplement to “Transition to What?”, the August 23, 2011 report by Haiti Grassroots Watch on Haiti's housing and shelter crisis: Find the full “Transition to What?” here: http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/journal/2011/8/22/abandonne-comme-un-chien-errant-abandoned-like-a-stray-dog.html
“I don’t have anything. I lost everything I owned in the earthquake.” Refugee Germaine Clercilien has been living in a tent in the Gérard Christophe field – home to Léogâne’s most important soccer team – since the day after the January 12, 2010, earthquake.
Before the earthquake, Clercilien, mother of six children, rented a small home. Now, she lives in a tiny tent, a little space measuring about eight square meters, jammed with the few possessions she was able to rescue from the earthquake – some clothing, her SEAU and two mattresses.
“How can I feel good here? I’m not at home,” said Clercilien, who had just woken up from a nap, as she stood in front of the tent she shares with three of her children.
And the other ones? “This house is too small. I had to send the three others to a friend and to my sister,” she said. Since there aren’t any showers, she bathes “almost naked, out in the open” next to her tent.
“The situation in the camps… Well, here we are. The latrines are horrible, the mosquitoes bother us,” Clercilien complained. “The latrines aren’t kept clean. The nauseating odors practically kill us.”
Photo: A Haiti Grassroots Watch journalist speaks with Germaine Clercilien in front of her tent.
For many months, the camp’s latrines were maintained by Save the Children, the US-based humanitarian agency. But now the money has run out, so water distribution and latrine-cleaning (called “desludging”) have ended, and all that remains of the organization is its logo on the soiled doors of the smelly and unusable latrines.
In fact, as far back as last March the United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) sounded the alarm nationwide. In its Humanitarian Bulletin dated March 10 - 25, 2011, OCHA warned: “most of the funding to partners to support sanitation, water trucking activities and camp management will be exhausted by June 2011.”
OCHA continued, “If sanitation activities come to an end, open defecation, indiscriminate disposal of faeces, cholera contamination and insecurity, particularly women seeking to find a private place to excrete, will increase.”
Image: Diagram from the OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin of the danger of overflowing latrines.
Despite this graphic, somber and potentially fatal observation, the actors pulled out.
A March study noted that:
- Only 48 percent of the camp residents have daily access to an adequate supply of potable water.
- Only 61 percent of that water had the correct amount of chlorine, meaning that it runs the risk of being contaminated by and transmitting cholera. ¦On average, 112 people have to share a single camp latrine.
- Only 18 percent of camps have hand-washing facilities.
The statistics are even more alarming for Léogâne, where 179 people share each latrine, and where only 20 percent of the water is treated with chlorine.
All this in spite of the fact that Haiti is living “in the time of cholera.” About 386 people are hospitalized each day, and as of August 8, 2011, 426,785 people had been infected and at least 6,169 killed.
Image: Chart of Cholera cases at Port-au-Prince camps with "oral rehydration posts," from December 27, 2010, through June 5, 2011. Source: OIM
Nobody would suspect that reality of they visited the website of Save the Children. The humanitarian giant instead boasts: “We’re providing sanitation and safe drinking water to 100 camps through water supply systems, such as community water tanks, latrines, hand-washing facilities, bathing areas and the delivery of drinking water through water tankers.”
Obviously, Gérard Christophe Park is not on their list. Before the catastrophe, Clercilien was a street vendor. Today that’s not possible, since she can’t get the necessary capital together. But, “being broke is nothing. What’s worse are the mosquitoes which make our lives hell,” she said.
What does she wish for? She would like authorities to “give me a house” because she says she lacks the money necessary to rent one. She would also like to go back into business and to send her children to school.
But Clercilien is not a landowner, so she can’t get a “T-Shelter.” [See “Transition to What?”]
The drama for Clercilien and the over 634,000 other Clerciliens in 1,001 camps like Gérard Christophe Park, 17 months after the earthquake is they want to be moved. They want to be housed. What is their future?