Cholera outbreak and acute food insecurity threaten millions amidst ongoing violence.
Today, the humanitarian aid organization GOAL announced that it is launching a large-scale response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Political instability and rampant gang violence are complicating dire levels of food insecurity and hunger as a cholera outbreak spreads across the country. 5.2 million people are in urgent need of assistance, a massive crisis that has not yet been met with a proportionate response.
Last week, The UN launched an appeal for $720 million to support more than three million people in Haiti, its largest such effort since the devastating 2010 earthquake.
GOAL’s multi-pronged response is a significant step toward addressing the most urgent, unmet needs. It aims to reach more than 500,000 people in the next 12 months, mostly in and around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The effort includes multiple international and local partner organizations with significant funding from the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA); Irish Aid; UNICEF; and the European Commission for Humanitarian Assistance (ECHO).
Efforts are now underway to increase access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation services; to train, educate, and equip communities to manage their own sanitation needs and control infection; to ensure that people infected with cholera are effectively connected with treatment services; to distribute vouchers to families that will enable them to buy the food that they need; and to protect the most vulnerable, especially women and girls, from violence, abuse, and exploitation.
“The imperative now is to save lives and safeguard basic food security and health in an extremely difficult environment,” said Bernard McCaul, GOAL’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). “The sheer complexity of this crisis is a challenge to the humanitarian community, but we must not use it as an excuse to delay. Working with our partners and our committed Haitian team, we’re taking immediate, far-reaching action.”
More than 4.9 million Haitians, or nearly half the population, are facing crisis levels of food insecurity. And, since October, nearly 40,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported across the country. Haiti had been cholera-free for three years after a 2010-2019 epidemic infected some 820,000 people and killed nearly 10,000. Meanwhile, extreme gang violence, including murder, kidnapping, and widespread gender-based violence, has created immeasurable trauma.
GOAL has been working in Haiti since 2010. It is one of the few international aid agencies which, in partnership with community-based organizations, have access to the most dangerous, high-risk, and vulnerable neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.
GOAL’s Country Director for Haiti, Phil Gelman, said, “While the majority of our work will be in communities in extreme crisis in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, we are also launching programs in the North West and Southern Peninsula. We are certainly not doing it alone. GOAL Haiti is partnering with international humanitarian organizations and UN agencies, a network of civil society organizations, including some 200 in Port-au-Prince alone, and Haitian government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the National Water and Sanitation Authority, and the Department for Civil Defence (DPC).”