The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated USD 1 million from its "underfunded emergency" reserve to lifesaving IOM water, sanitation and hygiene projects to combat waterborne diseases at the start of Haiti's wet season.
Nearly half a million very poor Haitians still live in the sprawling tent camps where they fled immediately after the earthquake two years ago. Public health conditions are typically dire and the onset of the rains brings with it the spread of preventable, waterborne diseases, including cholera.
The exceptional UN grant is in response to a major shortfall in funding this year for water, sanitation and hygiene projects targeting Haiti's desperately poor and vulnerable January 2010 earthquake victims.
"The lack of financial resources at the disposal of the humanitarian community has been curtailing its ability to fully provide frontline services to the most vulnerable population affected by a series of shocks, including the 12 January 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic and food insecurity," says Philippe Verstraeten, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Haiti.
The new funding will help IOM to deliver basic public health services to vulnerable people in some 60 camps in and around Port-au-Prince. A minimal service will also be maintained at the Champ de Mars camp in front of the National Palace, where IOM is supporting the Government of Haiti's relocation strategy for internally displaced families.
The money will support camp water committees responsible for ensuring the availability of potable water and provision of oral rehydration solution in the event of a cholera outbreak. It will also pay for latrine maintenance and repairs to prevent contamination of the water supply.
The programme will also promote lifesaving hygiene and behaviour change among some 60,000 camp residents to prevent a resurgence of cholera. Haitians who previously worked for IOM on a voluntary basis will be re-trained and deployed to camps with a history of cholera cases to work in "Community Action Groups" to identify and respond to any outbreak.
Haiti's first cholera outbreak began in October 2010, eight months after the earthquake. It has resulted in close to half a million cases nationwide and around 7,000 deaths.
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