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Tuesday 04 September 2012

'Tented shelter not needed' in Haiti
'Tented shelter not needed' in Haiti Children outside a ShelterBox tent in a tented community located between Port-Au-Prince and Leogane, Haiti, 2012.

Tropical Storm Isaac has highlighted the urgent need to provide adequate shelter for 390,000 people still living under tarps and in tents since the 2010 earthquake and close the 575 remaining camps, says International Organization for Migration (IOM).

For more than two years, ShelterBox has been working closely with IOM in Haiti coordinating a permanent relocation programme to help families either return to their place of origin, or set up homes in a new location they have identified.

Residual stocks of tents and emergency equipment have been distributed to these displaced families to enable them to finally start to rebuild their lives.

Almost 19,000 families have left camps with help from IOM, ShelterBox and other humanitarian actors who have been providing rental subsidies, resulting in the closing of 50 camps so far.

'While civil protection and preparedness will continue to be a high priority for Haiti for the foreseeable future, we will fall down on the job as humanitarians, if we do not urgently find the necessary resources to close these camps quickly,' said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall'Oglio.


'We now need to target as many as possible of the remaining 575 camps, especially those where people live in dangerous and exposed conditions susceptible to storm damage.'

Following need assessments to Haiti's hardest hit areas, the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) also feels that tented shelter is not needed in this case.

SRT members Mark Dyer (US) and Jeff Pietras (US) made one last assessment after receiving information from charity Handicap International that there was a need for shelter in the very isolated area Belle Anse.

Damaged infrastructure in Jacmel, Haiti, August 2012.

The department of Belle Anse is a coastal and mountainous inland region of South East Haiti located near the border with the Dominican Republic. The main town is a small coastal fishing town. The other seven sectors are located along a single unpaved track in the mountainous interior, very rural, very poor and very inaccessible.

'Drove nine hours'

'We drove nine hours along a difficult single track road to reach the sectors that large transport trucks would find difficult to pass in the best conditions,' said Mark.

They assessed the most impacted sectors, Baie d'Orange, Mabriole, Pichon and Mapou, which had the largest reports of damaged and destroyed homes in the farming region.

'Plantations and farms are spread widely across the hills and mountains so most of the assessments were of communes lying within a walking distance of around 20 minutes along the narrow road,' said Jeff.

'Our assessments found fairly light crop and plantation damage in the majority of the communes and community infrastructure was fine. However, remote Baie d'Orange was the worst affected where entire crop fields lay flattened; churches, schools and community halls had severe roof damage and structural problems as a result from the storm.'

'Sporadic destruction'

'The worst damage from a housing perspective was also in Baie d'Orange,' said Mark. 'The sporadic nature of the destruction meant that some primitive wooden structures weathered the storm fine but some concrete homes had major roof damage. But people who had taken refuge in storm shelters while Isaac hit had already returned to their homes, attending to repairs and living with their neighbours or in less damaged parts of their homes.'

Similar to the SRT's assessments made in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, the need is greatest for roof repairs around Belle Anse as families are no longer living in the emergency storm shelters but being looked after by the community.

'We believe this is an isolated problem, affecting one house while leaving neighbours untouched,' said Jeff. 'It is an extremely remote location and we feel that by the time ShelterBox aid could be transported here most repairs will have been made or affected families will have been absorbed by the community. We feel that tented shelter is not needed in this case.'

The 448 ShelterBoxes will be prepositioned in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince and will be used as contingency stocks when future disasters strike the Caribbean.
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