Haiti - Three years after Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, some 87,750 families are still living in 450 makeshift, insanitary and often dangerous camps scattered throughout the country.
The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) has now stepped in with a new EUR 6 million contribution to an IOM programme which supports the relocation of camp residents to safer housing options through the provision of rental subsidies.
The new ECHO funding will allow IOM to extend the programme until December 2013 targeting at least 7,560 families in some 50 of the highest risk camps in terms of poor sanitation, flooding and landslides.
A total of some 36,500 families or 146,000 individuals are expected to have received rental subsidies by the end of 2013. This will reduce the total number of individuals in camps to approximately 50,250 families or 201,000 individuals.
As part of return programmes introduced in 2011 by the Haitian Government and the Office for the Construction of Accommodation and Public Buildings (UCLBP by its French acronym), some 159,178 families, or 636,712 individuals, have already been assisted with relocation to communities where they lived before the earthquake.
ECHO started backing the IOM project with a EUR 1.7 million contribution in August 2012. The scheme had a two-fold impact. On the one hand it offered displaced families the opportunity to have a fresh start in a better home.
On the other, it restored to Haitians access to public spaces and services and gave back occupied private land to the people who owned it. In addition, it created conditions for the rehabilitation and construction of new infrastructure.
Between August and December 2012, IOM used ECHO funding to facilitate the relocation of 1,560 families and the closure of 26 camps in the communes of Port-au Prince and Tabarre.
Five were located in public schools and 21 on private land, with very limited access to water, sanitation and other services. All of them were at risk of flooding and water-borne diseases, including cholera.
IOM also used the funding to rehabilitate water and sanitation in the evacuated schools, pending the return of students. It also dismantled remaining shelters, cleared debris and disinfected the sites, which had been occupied by displaced families since the 2010 earthquake.
"Decommissioning of camps allows the legitimate land owners to get back their plots. Many of them have subsequently started new housing construction in response to increased demand created by return programmes and specifically by the relocations from the camps," says IOM project manager Chiara Milano.
The programme also contributes to job creation, as the rental subsidies allow landlords to improve their houses or build additional rooms and improve access to water and sanitation. Beneficiaries also frequently invest the money saved by the rental subsidies in income generating activities and small businesses.
Given the large number of families still living in camps and the need to continue to improve the international community’s response to IDPs, a portion of the new ECHO funds will also be allocated to supporting IOM’s Data Management Unit (DTM).
The DTM produces a bimonthly report on the total population living in camps. It also gathers, analyzes and disseminates critical information on the camp populations, which in turn is used by the Government and humanitarian partners to plan and implement targeted programmes.
“IOM works in close partnership with the Government of Haiti. So far the results of return programmes have been very encouraging, but a major effort is still needed to provide durable solutions for the remaining families still living in camps, as soon as possible and especially before the new cyclone season, which will start in June,” says Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Haiti Chief of Mission.