Six Months After the Devastating Earthquake, a Long Road to Recovery Lies Ahead for Haitian Children Save the Children continues to assist thousands of survivors
Port-au-Prince, HAITI (July 7, 2010) — As the Haitian population approaches six months since the devastating earthquake of January 12, the Save the Children team in Haiti continues to assist vulnerable children and families. However, children still remain at risk, and the organization foresees a long-term process of intense reconstruction, rehabilitation and investment ahead.
With a 30-year history in Haiti, Save the Children was on the ground when the earthquake hit. The organization’s staff immediately responded with emergency relief, including lifesaving distributions of food, shelter and supplies. To date, the organization has been able to reach an estimated 682,000 children and families.
“Children are always among the most vulnerable in an emergency,” says Gary Shaye, country director for Save the Children in Haiti. “While families received lifesaving assistance in the early months after the quake, the majority were in need before the disaster. So the threats to Haiti’s children have increased. As a global community, we have a duty to ensure their protection, health and well-being throughout the recovery process.”
Despite the tremendous steps that were taken to alleviate suffering in the immediate period following the earthquake, it is very clear that the longer-term recovery and reconstruction programs are only just beginning to have effect.
“Because we are dedicated to building back better, the road to recovery will be longer and will require that international donors live up to the commitments they made for longer-term funding and accountability. This is the only way to ensure true development for Haiti,” said Shaye. “In our educational programs Save the Children is ensuring that school construction rely on higher standards to achieve safer structures and that services are rebuilt in ways that are sustainable beyond the initial period of the response.”
Hundreds of thousands of children are still at risk from major health complications related to living in camps and substandard conditions around the country, particularly as the rainy season and hurricane season intensify. Diarrhea, malaria and other water- and sanitation-related illnesses — all major killers of children in the developing world — threaten the lives of children, especially those under 5 years of age. While the response can claim many successes, Save the Children cautions that children are still vulnerable and must remain at the top of the agenda for all reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
Save the Children is implementing a 5-year response and recovery plan. The organization continues to work throughout the earthquake-affected region and is focusing its efforts on the sectors that have the most impact on the lives and well-being of thousands of children: education, protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter, livelihoods, food security and the provision of food and nonfood items.
Video - six months after the massive quake: