On visit to Haiti, senior UN official lauds progress of cash-for-work scheme

19 March 2010

A senior United Nations official has lauded the progress achieved by the men and women of Haiti involved in the cash-for-work programme, which was identified as one of the priority activities in the early recovery agenda following the 12 January earthquake.

The programme, coordinated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), enables Haitians to earn an income as they help their country recover from the quake, which is estimated to have affected one third of the 9 million citizens of Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Working with local municipal authorities, thousands of Haitians are put to work removing rubble from the streets, removing waste and clearing drainage canals ahead of the upcoming rainy season. They are paid 180 gourdes a day, or roughly $4.50 at current exchange rates, for six hours worth of labour.

“Although so much more is needed, it is encouraging to see the streets open to traffic, canals being cleaned, and shops open for business – and all of it done by the men and women of Delmas working to rebuild their city one step at a time,” UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan remarked as she visited one municipality yesterday.

During her visit, Ms. Grynspan also reviewed the other areas of support to the Government, including restoring its capacity to deliver justice and security services, the agency noted in a news release.

Among the buildings that were destroyed in the 7.0 magnitude quake was the Palais de Justice in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and gone with it were the archives and legal documents related to millions of Haitians, leaving them without proof of property, inheritance and business licenses.

UNDP is working with its partners to help tackle this challenge, including by providing temporary work facilities, office equipment and technical support.

“Problems with land and properties titles and adoption processes will increase with the loss of documentation, human and material resources to deal with those matters,” said UNDP Country Director Eric Overvest.

“A new generation of judges and justice auxiliaries will receive training to meet demand,” he added. “Also, measures have been taken to address the needs of displaced and homeless Haitians, who need protection against possible risk of raising violence, especially against women and children.”

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that more than two months after the earthquake, the emergency response phase of the relief efforts should continue for months to come – given the scale and complexity of the crisis.

Concerning shelter, OCHA said that over three-quarters of the 1.2 million people in need of emergency shelter have now received materials, and added that the relocation of people needs to be sped up ahead of the upcoming rainy season.

The Office also stated that it is working the UN mission in the country, known as MINUSTAH, and the Haitian National Police to improve protection in the camps where Haitians have taken shelter.

Some 150 patrols by UN Police (UNPOL) and the Haitian National Police are conducted everyday in camps. Also, a pilot project is underway in the Petionville Club camp where female officers from UNPOL and the Haitian National Police are working specifically on gender-based violence.

In addition, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is in the process of assembling and distributing 17,000 flashlights to women, and plans to give 300 tents to set up “safe spaces for women” in the camps.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the ongoing vaccination campaign in Haiti has prevented outbreaks of diseases, particularly in Port-au-Prince. About 400,000 adults and children have now been immunized, mainly in camps for displaced people in the capital.

The campaign is expected to be completed by mid-April and is being extended to other areas of the country, the agency added.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

UN seeking support from donors to scale up cash-for-work initiative in Haiti

The United Nations is seeking to scale up its cash-for-work programme that is enabling Haitians to earn an income as they help their country recover from last month’s devastating earthquake, and the world body is calling on donors to help fund the vital initiative.