Rebuilding Haiti During the Martelly Era
Catholic Relief Services wishes to thank you very much for your on going work and personal attention to aid Haitians in rebuilding their country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, after the devastating earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010. Moreover, thank you for calling this important hearing on "Rebuilding Haiti during the Martelly Era." We especially want to thank Senator Menendez of New Jersey, and Senator Cardin of Maryland, Chairs of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs and the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection, respectively.
As one of the largest American aid organizations in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services is working hand in hand with Haitians to help them rebuild their country better and stronger. CRS believes that aid agencies must strengthen local capacity and foster local leadership so that Haitians drive their own recovery and development. CRS works in partnership with numerous local organizations, including the Catholic Church in Haiti. Some highlights of our programs in Haiti include:
- Transitional shelter program: CRS and partners (including sub-grantees Cordaid and Habitat for Humanity) are producing between 300-400 shelters per week. To date a total of 6,485 shelters have been constructed.
- Rubble to Reconstruction: More than 2,500 metric tons of rubble has been recycled through the use of rubble crushing machines supplied by CRS to 14 beneficiary entrepreneurs to date. These small business people are employing other earthquake-affected Haitians and through their efforts are supplying CRS and others with sand, gravel and concrete blocks for construction.
- Neighborhood Water and Sanitation: CRS staff carried out formative research in target neighborhoods to explore community members' knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, and practices related to water and sanitation. The results are being used to develop strategies for assisting communities to make improvements in their living conditions that will positively affect their health and well being.
- Protection: A total of 1,049 separated or unaccompanied children have been registered and are receiving some form of assistance. Of these, 400 have been reunited with their families to date.
- Institutional Strengthening Program: As part of this program supported by CRS and the University of Maryland, the University of Notre Dame of Haiti selected six nurses and six doctors to become future faculty members. These health care professionals recently completed training sessions at the University of Maryland. They are continuing their clinical training at selected partner medical training sites in Haiti.
We request your immediate help with the unresolved problems of shelter and emergency and long-term funding for Haiti.
It is estimated that 680,000 Haitians are currently living in displacement camps. Vulnerable people living in overcrowded areas, with inadequate shelter, surrounded by strangers, are at higher risk of suffering from poor health and violence. They also have a much harder time supporting themselves and taking care of their families. Before the earthquake there was a lack of basic primary education in Haiti and no basic health care for most people. Only 50 percent of Haitians had access to clean water.
Furthermore, government and civil society institutions are weak and under-resourced. Absent a shelter strategy, vulnerable populations are at risk — many of them women and young girls.
- We urge that US government support to Haiti will prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable, will focus on strengthening Haitian capacity and leadership, and will support improved governance of Haitian institutions.
- We would like to request that the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) be supported to carry out life saving support to the people of Haiti, especially in the areas of water, sanitation and shelter. OFDA was cut by 33% in the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution. Further cuts severely undermine the people and the programs that many NGOs are trying to implement in support of the Haitian people. We would like to encourage full funding of OFDA's programs in the fiscal year 2012 annual budget. We would like to ask that you protect this humanitarian and poverty focused account that protects thousands of lies in Haiti.
- Furthermore, we believe that the United States Government support can and should be targeted at some specific priorities for Haiti, including customs clearance delays: United States and other international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) continue to experience delays of many months to clear imported items that can't be found on the local market. This includes lumber for the construction and repair of shelters and other infrastructure, medical supplies, communications equipment, and other essential items. Right now, building temporary shelters and rebuilding communities are hampered by such delays, making it more difficult to implement the full range of programs that are designed to protect lives and livelihoods. We recommend intervention to help the Government of Haiti resolve the issues that cause these delays.