One year ago, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti leaving an estimated 222,000 dead, more than 300,000 seriously injured and 1.5 million in need of emergency shelter.
Within an hour of receiving reports about the earthquake, a humanitarian response team was helping to co-ordinate relief efforts, working around the clock over the following days and weeks.
The UK government gave £20 million in emergency support which included a 64 person emergency search and rescue team and funding to directly help more than 380,000 people get access to food, clean water and medical care.
UK support has also been provided to a number of United Nations organisations and the Government of Haiti through the secondment of specialist advisors.
In addition, four British civilian experts from the Stabilisation Unit (a joint Foreign Office, Defence and Development unit) were assigned to work with the Haitian Ministry of Justice to help with the reconstruction of two of the 19 prisons that were destroyed in the earthquake.
As well as UK government support, the British public donated £101 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal for Haiti, helping support one of the largest humanitarian responses ever mounted.
In October 2010, cholera broke out in Haiti and it quickly became the most critical health challenge the country faced since January’s earthquake.
By the end of November, cholera had already sent more than 34,000 people to hospital and killed more than 1,750 across the country. By the end of December, 3,333 people had died from the disease with almost 150,000 hospitalised.
In response, the British government is funding 192 doctors, 576 nurses and 200 support staff from the region to set up 16 major cholera treatment centres and 21 subsidiary cholera treatment units.
Forty surveillance teams will also be established to give alert and response capacity to the seven departments not as yet fully covered. Medical teams capable of treating several thousands of cholera victims will be provided by the Pan American Health Organisation through a £2 million grant.
The UK is tackling the chronic lack of decent water by supplying 340,000 people with clean water and in Northern Haiti through a £1.9 million grant to Oxfam.
Working with Plan International, the UK is also providing public health services to 231,000 people across the North East of Haiti through a £1 million grant.
The road to recovery
Life for the Haitian people is still very tough and massive challenges lie ahead.
Nearly 190,000 houses collapsed or were badly damaged during the earthquake and many people are still living in temporary camps and settlement areas. More than 20 million cubic metres of debris was created by the earthquake and rubble blocks the streets. Conditions are crowded and basic, the camps are vulnerable to flooding and they can be dangerous places for women and girls.
The Government of Haiti is leading reconstruction, with suport from the international community. The UK’s contribution will be through our share of the programmes of the United Nations, European Union, World Bank and other multilaterals (over $170m in 2010-11, including our contribution to the cost of the UN peacekeeping mission). The UK is also contributing £2m to reduce Haiti’s vulnerability to future natural disasters.