One Year Later: Plan International USA's Stepped Up Relief Operations in Haiti Continue to Make Progress

Jan 11, 2011, 17:42 ET from Plan International USA

NGO urges global community to continue supporting the country's reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the world prepares to mark the one year anniversary of the deadly earthquake that struck Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people and leaving some 1.7 million displaced, Plan International USA continues its efforts to help rebuild the country and provide relief to those in need.  

In addition to the extreme challenges of rebuilding, a deadly cholera outbreak threatens Haitians across the country.  Political unrest and instability continue to hinder outreach and rehabilitation efforts.  Progress has been frustratingly slow and difficult to measure.

Haiti's governmental and social infrastructure remains fragile, and many of the hundreds of thousands of wounded are without adequate medical support. Amidst these challenges, Plan International USA believes that commitment from the global community is every bit as important today as it was in the first moments after the earthquake.  

"Plan has helped thousands of children and families meet their survival needs and begin to rebuild their lives," said Plan International USA President and CEO Tessie San Martin. "We have made good progress in some key areas such as restoring education, health care, and water and sanitation, but we have a long way to go. Ensuring that the needs of children, their families, and their communities are met continues to be our foremost priority."

Children are among the most vulnerable in these crises, with many orphaned or separated from their families. Plan's relief and recovery programs continue to be child and community-focused, centering on education, protection, and health and wellness initiatives.

Plan's emergency response has to date:

  • Doubled the number of full time employees in Haiti to 280
  • Helped 30,000 children back to school by rebuilding some 50 schools, providing school kits, training teachers & providing equipment;
  • Supported treatment of 27,000 patients in mobile clinics, backed with a $13 million drug donation;
  • Vaccinated 31,000 children against diseases;
  • Provided 39,000 people with tents and basic non-food supplies in the immediate earthquake aftermath;
  • Reached 100,000 people through our cholera response since October with hygiene kit distributions, prevention campaigns and water & sanitation and health interventions.

The devastating earthquake, compounded by an already fragile infrastructure, limited government capacity, and crippling poverty levels, have all resulted in an almost unprecedented year in terms of multiple challenges faced.

"Plan, like all other development and relief organizations, has struggled with this specific set of challenges in Haiti far more than originally anticipated. The extreme level of devastation Haiti has endured has necessitated one of the most complex and far-reaching relief operations in history," said San Martin. "Plan has worked in Haiti since 1973 and remains committed to standing with the Haitians as they rebuild their country and livelihoods."  

One year after the disaster, Haiti stands at a crossroads. Plan believes that only strong and swift decisions by the government will take it down the road to a fair and sustainable future. Plan calls on the Haitian government to:

  • Adopt a national building code and approved designs for permanent, safe and disability-friendly schools;
  • Create an effective birth registration system (including free registration for all people who lost birth certificates in the earthquake) – to ensure better access to education, social and health services; clarify  land ownership & prevent child trafficking & other child rights abuses;
  • Create formal mechanisms for children and youth to fully engage with the Government & the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH) in the rebuilding process.

"In the face of the almost overwhelming need and hardship in Haiti, progress is being made. But it is complex, demanding and at times, frustrating. What is needed right now is decisive and committed leadership to get things moving," said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International.  "Lack of land and the absence of an approved building code for earthquake and hurricane-proof buildings are seriously hindering efforts. The lack of a proper system to replace or provide people's legal documents is also proving a major challenge which must be addressed."

Plan urges the Haitian government, supported by the international community, to prioritize these projects in order to secure a lasting future for the people of Haiti.

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Founded more than 70 years ago, Plan International USA is one of the largest non-government organizations (NGO) on the ground in Haiti with more than 280 full time personnel in the country providing relief services. Plan is a child-centered nonprofit with no religious or political affiliations. In addition to its work in Haiti, Plan works in 48 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, empowering millions of children, families, and communities to lift themselves out of poverty using methods that are innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable.

SOURCE Plan International USA