Evidence of meeting #6 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was haiti.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jon Allen  Assistant Deputy Minister, Americas, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Lise Filiatrault  Regional Director General, Americas Directorate, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Marie Gervais-Vidricaire  Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Isabelle Bérard  Director General, Haiti, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Denis Robert  Director, Haiti Task Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Leslie Norton  Director General, International Humanitarian Assistance Directorate, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Kevin McCort  President and Chief Executive Officer, Member of the Humanitarian Coalition, CARE Canada
  • Conrad Sauvé  Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Red Cross
  • Stephanie Kleschnitzki  Reports and Contributions Manager, Haiti, UNICEF Canada
  • Pam Aung Thin  National Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Canadian Red Cross

9:50 a.m.

Kevin McCort President and Chief Executive Officer, Member of the Humanitarian Coalition, CARE Canada

Thank you very much.

Good morning. My name is Kevin McCort. I am the president and chief executive officer of CARE Canada, and also a member of the Humanitarian Coalition. My opinions and comments are strictly my own.

CARE has been present in Haiti for more than 50 years. We partner with families, communities, and local governments in the departments of Artibonite, Nord-Ouest, Sud, and Grand' Anse to support sustainable development and improve the quality of life.

We invest in programs of economic and food security targeting women and youth, water and sanitation, basic education, sexual and reproductive health, inclusive and accountable governance, and building more disaster-resilient communities.

Our current program in Haiti is about $18 million a year, funded globally, with about 500 staff, of whom 94% are Haitian.

My first visit to Haiti was in the mid-1990s and my last visit was last week.

As mentioned, I also represent the Humanitarian Coalition, which was formed in 2005 and brings together CARE, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Save the Children Canada, and Plan Canada.

We coordinate our fundraising in Canada and launch a single appeal rather than multiple competing appeals. This is all part of our effort to ensure a greater percentage of donations is available for programs as opposed to fundraising.

In the field, the members of the Humanitarian Coalition implement our own programs but we are part of in-country coordination mechanisms and have recently completed a joint evaluation of our programs in collaboration with the Disasters Emergency Committee, which is the joint appeal mechanism from the United Kingdom.

I won't spend much time on the root causes of poverty in Haiti because I'm sure you've heard them before, other than to mention that social exclusion is a significant problem, poor governance at all levels in Haiti is a challenge, and a lack of access to education and insufficient opportunities for sustainable livelihoods contribute to the chronic vulnerability of Haiti. CARE in Haiti desires to influence and support Haitian institutions and initiatives rather than set up our individual programs around the country.

But as a very brief comment on the chronic nature of poverty in Haiti, it's worth commenting also and quoting Paul Farmer, who coined the phrase that the disaster in Haiti was an acute epidemic on a patient with a chronic vulnerability. That acute-on-chronic phrase really does sum up what happened to Haiti with this devastating earthquake that hit a very vulnerable country.

After the earthquake, CARE found itself with a program that was predominantly rural and not a significant presence in the earthquake-affected area. But we were able to draw our staff in from around the world and from around Haiti to support communities in Leogane, Carrefour, Pétionville, and other parts of Port-au-Prince to provide access to safe water and sanitation, decent housing, and sturdier building structures.

Since the cholera outbreak in October 2010, CARE has been particularly active in rural areas of the country to spread prevention messages, improve water supplies, and support medical facilities with essential materials.

Here are some brief point-form achievements. We've constructed almost 2,500 transitional shelters, 97% of which are occupied because we spent significant amounts of time on community consultations to ensure there were no conflicts over ownership. Our water, sanitation, and health department has provided over 1,000 latrines to people in spontaneous settlement areas. Our cholera and education prevention activities have now reached more than 1.7 million people, and we were providing water to 500,000 people per day in parts of Port-au-Prince. We employed over 12,000 people in cash-for-work activities, primarily in Bassin Bleu, cleaning drainage ditches and facilitating the re-establishment of irrigation canals. We distributed almost 20,000 school kits to earthquake-affected students and 20,000 sports kits to kids living in spontaneous settlements. And the health team is involved in sexual and reproductive health activities, having distributed almost a quarter of a million condoms recently, and has begun the construction of 10 community health centres to provide sexual and reproductive health services.

These efforts are part of a coordinated response. Our recent evaluation has indicated that beyond the specific achievements, we have made a significant contribution to restoring the dignity of earthquake survivors and helping create the conditions where we can return to addressing the underlying chronic condition.

What I saw in Haiti last week is that the roads are clear, the camps are smaller, economic activity is evident, and security has improved, though sexual and gender-based violence is still a problem in the displaced persons camps. So we have made progress in addressing the acute elements of the crisis, but the underlying and chronic problems remain.

I'm going to give two examples of the types of work we believe we should be doing to address these underlying chronic problems. One is continued work in the area of shelter, in particular in the Port-au-Prince area. There are still 600,000 people remaining in the camps, but that's down from 1.3 million. The people who remain in the camps are the poorest of the poor. They were often tenants before the earthquake, and they are the most difficult people to return to their settlements.

Where we have built houses, it's really been for those who had some form of evidence that they were the owners or the occupiers of a house before. These neighbourhoods cannot yet re-absorb those 600,000 people. So we believe that significant work remains to be done in these neighbourhoods.

We're starting one program to work with 5,000 households in southwest Carrefour to improve shelter, infrastructure, and income-generating projects to help create the conditions, a pull factor, to help bring some of those 600,000 back into communities.

We are going to be working on a retrofit program. I'm sure you've heard of the red, yellow, and green system for assessing the damage to houses. The yellow houses are ones that people are moving back into spontaneously. There's a significant need to assist them, as they move back to those houses, with retrofit options that will improve the safety of those houses.

We hope this will address the reality of Haiti. People are moving into these houses, whether they should or not. And improving technical assistance to the homeowners and also to builders and mobile construction units will help address this weakness.

Also, we're very committed to working outside of Port-au-Prince, to help communities in the rural areas and other peri-urban areas, to help, again, perhaps, create conditions where people can move to those communities for greater economic opportunity, or also reduce the flow of new people into Port-au-Prince, because it remains a desperately overcrowded and complicated city.

There are many examples in Haiti of savings and loans work, agriculture development and value chains, watershed management; and maternal, newborn, and child health programs that are effective in a context such as Haiti.

In wrapping up, really we just have three points to leave you with. First, I would like to congratulate the Government of Canada for their commitment to Haiti. It has been longstanding and substantial. Minister Oda visited six times in the last five years. There have been substantial resources committed via the government and strong support of private giving. The match program, supported by the Government of Canada, demonstrates to Canadians that the government also supports their private individual work.

I would certainly encourage government to remain engaged, to avoid any kind of temptation to declare victory over the acute phase, as the chronic phase remains.

I have a second concluding remark. There have been many comments about the “republic of NGOs” in Haiti, that there are too many NGOs and not enough government. We should resist this as a call for fewer NGOs, but more as a call for greater government, greater capacity in governance at all levels, at the municipal, provincial, and national levels.

I will just recall that in Canada our civil society sector has over two million jobs, 7% of GDP, and twelve million volunteers. A strong, non-governmental sector in Canada is part of what makes Canada strong. But in Haiti we would like to see not fewer NGOs but greater governance capacity to engage with those who are there.

Again, a balanced investment program.... As Canada goes forward, it has to keep in mind there is more to Haiti than Port-au-Prince. The outlying areas of the country are also significantly in need of assistance.

Thank you very much for your attention. I'll stop there.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you, Mr. McCort.

We're now going to move over to the Canadian Red Cross and Conrad Sauvé. Welcome, sir.

10 a.m.

Conrad Sauvé Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Red Cross

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of Parliament, colleagues from CARE and UNICEF. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the ongoing efforts in Haiti and the role of the Red Cross.

There is no need to mention the events that have brought us here today. We are all aware of the destruction and devastation caused by the Haitian earthquake about 20 months ago.

We are here to talk about the progress made and the challenges faced in reconstructing Haiti for the Haitian people. We have had many successes, but the situation on the ground, as has been reported in the media, means that there is still a lot of work to do.

The Canadian Red Cross has been involved in all the relief operations in Haiti. We were on the ground shortly after the earthquake and we played an important role in the initial relief activities. Thanks to the generous financial support of CIDA, we deployed an emergency field hospital in order to fight the cholera epidemic which occurred last year, in December.

With the generosity and support of the federal government, through CIDA, we have been a partner on the development side of Haiti's recovery since the outset. We have been a leader in providing shelter, in supporting the health systems of the country, and in addressing disaster preparedness.

There are three critical phases following a disaster: emergency, recovery, and long-term planning and development.

I think we met with members of this committee previously. Some of you may recall that the emergency phase in Haiti was much longer than what we've seen in other contexts. In terms of the Red Cross, there were 14,400 tonnes of aid, one million relief items, and 2.5 million litres distributed to over 300,000 people daily; medical care for 216,000 people; and 100 camps sheltering 172,000 people.

From emergency, we transferred to the task of rebuilding lives through the recovery phase. This has included the completion of more than 18,000 earthquake-resistant shelters. It has also included shelter solutions, such as repairs to housing and grants for housing rentals or repairs.

Finally, we're looking towards long-term planning to ensure that efforts can be sustained. This includes a health care initiative, which I'll describe shortly.

A major focus of our efforts during the recovery phase has been to create safe, secure shelter in communities, which includes adequate water supplies, proper sanitation, and, where possible, access to community health.

The international movement of the Red Cross will contribute shelters for 30,000 families through projects ranging from repairing damaged housing, to rebuilding shelters, to building shelters that can withstand future disasters. Canada's contribution to this initiative is the provision of 15,000 shelter solutions through generous public donations and the federal government matching program.

The Canadian Red Cross will construct about half of these shelters, housing 7,500 families, in places such as Leogane, one of the hardest hit areas, where over 90% of buildings were destroyed. We're proud to say that we have completed two-thirds of this project. The additional shelters will be completed by the end of March 2012. In fact, these shelters can resist hurricane winds up to category 3. They represent, really, small homes that will last for over 10 years. And in many cases, they offer better living conditions than what was available to many Haitians prior to the earthquake.

In optimal conditions, an emergency shelter can be built in a few days. All that work can be done thanks to the participation and the support of the local population. On the ground, under the supervision of the Canadian Red Cross, it is mainly Haitians who are helping Haitians.

Some of our long-term projects in Haiti include a $25 million initiative to reinforce Haiti's fragile health system. We've signed an agreement with the Haitian Ministry of Health and three Canadian health organizations offering maternal and neonatal health programs. The five-year program will make it possible to reconstruct and strengthen the health care system for the most vulnerable groups in the country's southeast region. In addition we are participating in the rebuilding of the main hospital in Jacmel, with a focus on the maternity and children's sections.

We have begun programming on community-based health. This includes providing basic health education messages to the public that are critical towards preventing the spread of disease. Training, public education, prevention, and strengthening the capacity of the Haitian Red Cross to deliver health services are all part of this initiative.

These long-term initiatives grew out of the obvious gap in the health system, which was highly evident throughout the emergency phase of the earthquake when the Red Cross treated 216,000 patients.

Haiti experienced yet another emergency at this time last year. I think you previously talked about the cholera outbreak. The country's health system did not have the expertise or capacity to address this new crisis. In response, the Canadian Red Cross deployed for the first time a field hospital to address the deadly cholera outbreak. The hospital, created in partnership with the Canadian government, treated over 1,600 people and was handed over to the Haitian Red Cross in March to give them the means and knowledge to address future outbreaks. We're proud to say this hospital is fully managed by the Haitian Red Cross and continues to treat patients.

We're making progress, but many challenges and complexities remain. They will not be resolved quickly or easily. Of course, many of these issues existed before the earthquake. One thing that will remain constant will be the presence of the Red Cross. We have a long-term commitment to Haiti that goes beyond the initial emergency and recovery phases.

Many of the concerns about reconstruction have been discussed at this panel. These range from a lack of adequate space to clearing rubble, as well as logistical challenges such as poor infrastructure and supply chain issues.

As the shelters are built, the need for labour decreases. This is a concern as we start to wrap up some of the construction projects. In areas of poverty, jobs are at a premium, and job losses, even temporary ones, create tension and increased security issues in different communities.

The humanitarian situation in Haiti remains precarious. There are over 600,000 people who remain in camps without sufficient access to shelter and basic water and sanitation. Reconstruction, while progressing, will continue to take time. It's essential that all involved remember the pressing nature of the situation. We can ill afford to relax our efforts.

In conjunction with supportive governments, we will continue to move forward even in the face of complexity and possible criticism. We are committed to stay the course with our Haitian partners, the Haitian Red Cross, and continue to invest in communities.

In conclusion, I'd like to add that around the world the Red Cross is working closely with governments and other humanitarian actors and within the Red Cross movement to maximize our impact. Together we have made some important investments in Canada and around the world.

In addition to the mobile hospital, we have relief supplies ready to be shipped to respond to urgent needs. We have trained Red Cross staff and volunteers who are well prepared to face the most complex of disaster situations. This standby capacity requires investment every day. We're grateful for the support we receive in Canada.

Our unique experience around the globe makes us a valuable partner to the Government of Canada on policy development for international humanitarian disaster relief, recovery, and long-term development. With regard to today's subject, as I think you'll have appreciated from our remarks, we're here today with a wide base of knowledge and expertise, and we're eager to respond to any questions you may have.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you, Mr. Sauvé.

We're now going to move to UNICEF Canada. We have Ms. Kleschnitzki.

Thank you very much.

10:10 a.m.

Stephanie Kleschnitzki Reports and Contributions Manager, Haiti, UNICEF Canada

Thank you.

I'm joining you today, coming in from Port-au-Prince, where I've been based with UNICEF since about 10 days after the earthquake.

It's an honour to be here today, not only because I'm representing UNICEF but also because I'm a Canadian citizen. This is my first time presenting in front of a committee like this, so this is not actually a prepared statement but rather talking points. They are still accurate and sincere.

I wanted to speak a little bit about the earthquake relief and how we're repositioning in Haiti, not just for recovery but also for historic change for children.

I also wanted to speak briefly about the cholera response and what it's telling us about where the needs in Haiti really are.

First, let me congratulate the Canadian government for being the first public sector donor to release funds against the flash appeal, and in particular to release funds against UNICEF's appeal in 2010.

CIDA became the primary or the first-place donor in the public sector for our program and the third-largest contributor to the program overall. Over $14.2 million was released for the earthquake recovery efforts, and UNICEF allocated this substantial contribution to the areas of education, nutrition, water, and sanitation.

Meanwhile, the Canadian people were also generous and showed their solidarity with children in Haiti by fundraising and mobilizing an additional $14 million over the last year and a half. So not only is the government strong behind Haiti, but we also have a strong show of solidarity from civil society.

What I'd like to say is that the speed with which the first pledge was confirmed, its rapid transfer, and the flexibility of its manner enabled us to respond to the urgent, changing needs on the ground in the way that we needed to. So thank you once again for the consistent and appropriate assistance as a good humanitarian donor.

I'm sure that you've heard today about some of the major victories achieved in 2010. There was an immediate lifesaving response with UNICEF's work in the WASH Cluster. As a Cluster coordinator, we were able to work with partners to extend an emergency water-trekking operation that ensured safe water for over 1.2 million persons in the immediate aftermath. UNICEF's financial assistance, also through CIDA, helped to cover the needs of about 680,000 people. Some 11,300 latrines were constructed to fill the emergency sanitation needs in the immediate aftermath.

At the same time, the nutrition situation was stabilized. Malnutrition will often affect children, who are the most vulnerable in a crisis. Over 11,200 children were treated within a network of 159 different treatment programs and 28 stabilization centres for children who experienced complications when they became malnourished. UNICEF supported these partners with financial assistance and supply assistance.

Also, we had over 107 baby-friendly tents and corners, which are actually a preventative intervention to help mothers understand how to properly feed their infants and their children and how to breastfeed. This is a good and innovative example of how you can have a preventative intervention in the middle of a lifesaving emergency response.

The area of child protection received a lot of media attention and scrutiny from abroad. UNICEF focused on working with a variety of community-based organizations to create child-friendly spaces within the displacement camps. Over 445 were established in 2010, and every day they reached over 120,000 children with recreation and psychosocial support. It is particularly interesting that the majority of our partners are national partners. They are civil society organizations and faith-based organizations that will continue to provide this kind of support even after displacement ends, because they will carry these protective services back to their communities.

Also in child protection, UNICEF worked closely with Save the Children and with a variety of other partners to roll out a system of family tracing and reunification. In the early days, this was extremely effective in registering children. Family tracing, however, has been a little bit more of a challenge. About 40% of the children who were registered were separated before the earthquake, which means that in some cases families don't want to be found. This continues to be a very challenging area, which I'll talk a little more about in a moment.

I'd also like to say that in 2010, over 720,000 children received support to go back to school immediately after the earthquake in April. This is a huge victory. It was accomplished in partnership with the ministry of education. A distribution of over 1,600 tents was made to about 225 different sites across the country in the earthquake-affected areas, and there was a distribution of school supplies, teaching and learning supplies, and a really strong support with partners to make sure that schools could reopen even if they were in a tent. These are quite large and substantive achievements, but they only represent a fraction of what was accomplished, particularly with CIDA funding.

As my colleagues here have mentioned, at exactly the same time that an emergency response was being conducted, there was an effort to look at capacity development, and particularly of the government as the overarching duty bearer for the protection of child rights. UNICEF, as a member of the United Nations family, is of course concerned about the issues that were discussed earlier in terms of rule of law and good governance and citizen participation. So from the start, UNICEF focused on trying to restore the operational capacity of the ministries that deliver social services and also the technical capacity.

I'll explain a few of these examples so you can understand that there is concrete evidence of change. In one case, for the nutrition division, which is a part of the Ministry of Public Health, while the centres to look at therapeutic feeding and to address severe, acute malnutrition were being expanded, at the same time UNICEF was working on training a large cadre of health officials to be able to identify malnutrition and also to be able to raise its profile in the delivery of health services.

At this point, UNICEF is funding the ministry to recruit six nutrition specialists at the central level and a group of 10 nutrition specialists, one for each department of Haiti, who will implement programs to improve surveillance on malnutrition and also treatments through the health system.

In child protection, while we focused on child friendly spaces, at the same time UNICEF was looking at things such as legislative reform. We had a victory for advocacy. In March the government signed the Hague Convention on International Adoptions, which is a basic step in enabling a protective framework for children within the country.

At the same time, UNICEF worked to improve the regulatory capacity of the ministry of social affairs by developing a database of residential care facilities, which house and host separated children, but we also enabled them to conduct assessments and to begin the process of accreditation and achievement of minimum standards for children in these centres. This is a great victory because it is coming from a country in which we were unable to identify and confirm the locations of these facilities. Now they are mapped, they're assessed, and they're on their way to being better managed.

Most significantly, I wanted to speak about education. At the moment, I would like you to know there is an unprecedented momentum for education. With the election of President Martelly and now with the confirmation of a prime minister, we have a unique moment to be able to capitalize on the momentum around education. The rentrée scolaire has just been completed, and UNICEF has supported the president's initiatives to reach children out of school by distributing school supplies to about 750,000 children throughout the country.

UNICEF will also be targeting some of its construction efforts for schools, not only in areas affected by the earthquake but also in some of the 150 different communities throughout the country that have no access to public education infrastructure.

You might have heard that UNICEF has a very extensive construction program. We've completed 160 semi-permanent schools; 40 are in the works to be completed by the end of the year. In the next year, we will focus not just on recovery but on equity, on ensuring that children in the most remote areas and the most vulnerable can have access to a safe learning space.

I also want to briefly mention the cholera epidemic. Unfortunately, about 450,000 cases have been recorded, and there have been about 6,300 deaths. Incidence rates are not even throughout the country. We're now seeing small, localized outbreaks throughout the country.

This is telling us that the needs are not necessarily within the earthquake-affected areas. Although those who are most vulnerable are still very much in need, and some of them are in camps, there are children without access to social services in the most remote rural areas. The stark gaps they have in accessing basic water, sanitation, and health care are proving to not just be a danger to their individual achievement of rights, but to the stability and public health of the country. Therefore, we're interested in seeing support for the decentralization of social services and generally for the government in the most rural areas.

Thank you very much.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

I'll try to keep everyone on time, because we're almost out of time. I want to try to get two rounds in. Let's try to keep our first round to seven minutes and the second to five. If we have to go a little bit shorter, we will, so we can get two rounds in.

Ms. Sims, you have seven minutes.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you very much.

All of your organizations play a critical role, both at home and overseas, and are critical components of civil society and rebuilding civil society in countries like Haiti that have gone through disasters. I was really glad to hear Kevin specifically say that we're sometimes very good at addressing the immediate disaster and going in, but often the chronic problems remain. So it's important that we stay there until we've stabilized and put something in place long term.

My specific questions are around security and sexual violence. All of your organizations are on the ground. So give us any information you have around what is happening in the camps with systemic sexual violence and what you are doing to address issues in this area.

I'll throw out a couple of questions at the same time, because I know they will get to all of you one way or another.

How are we ensuring that women are engaged, not only in rebuilding, education, and capacity building, but in economic development? We know that is central to re-establishing some continuity and stability. What steps are being taken to rebuild the women's movement, because during these kinds of disasters women often end up being the most disenfranchised?

What could we as Canadians be doing to assist in this momentum for education, which we realize is absolutely fundamental to re-establishing peace, security, and long-term sustainability for Haiti?

I know I've thrown out a lot, but I'm hoping you can encapsulate it for me.

10:25 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Member of the Humanitarian Coalition, CARE Canada

Kevin McCort

I will start, if I may.

First, the question of sexual and gender-based violence in the camps is a particularly challenging one, and it is being addressed at a number of levels. The first level is physical, in terms of lighting and the location of latrines. There are a number of things we know you can do to reduce the likelihood of attack. Lights are critical. Having latrines in locations that are...the combination is sometimes difficult because you're constrained by the space, but location is important.

There are also systems you can build in the camp, such as buddy systems. It's Neighbourhood Watch, essentially. People are available to escort girls to the toilets at night. There are social structures you can build.

The third level is reporting. People need to have safe places to report violence against women. That often involves community centres. It involves ensuring that there are women in the centres who can take the complaint.

Those three pieces are where we start to work. There are ongoing campaigns of information about the scale of the epidemic and the problems it causes. It's not an easy one to address, but there are some learned techniques for doing that.

Very briefly, on women's economic empowerment, one of the tools we have found to be most effective, which has been supported by CIDA in many countries and by private donors, is a savings and loans program. The programs are not specifically aimed at either men or women, but they seem to be most effective with women's groups. They are solidarity peer savings and lending. Their most useful attribute is actually as insurance and as an income-smoothing component. But they do provide small amounts of capital for business. They prepare economically literate and numerate people.

I'll pass it on to others for other comments.

10:25 a.m.

Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Red Cross

Conrad Sauvé

Thank you.

I think you're absolutely right in terms of the concern about violence and abuse prevention. The Canadian Red Cross is one of the leaders, actually, in the world of the Red Cross in terms of training and education around violence and abuse prevention. It's part and parcel of all our programming in Haiti, such as the education component and codes of conduct for all of our staff and everybody working for us.

We work very closely with the Haitian Red Cross. The head of the Haitian Red Cross is a woman. They have strong participation of women within the Red Cross. We have included all gender components in our housing projects, so we provide titles to women as well. We started that after the tsunami as well, to make sure women had title to the housing.

Finally, in terms of our hiring processes, we ensure that women are hired as well as men, including in our shelter construction projects.

10:25 a.m.

Reports and Contributions Manager, Haiti, UNICEF Canada

Stephanie Kleschnitzki

Thank you for your question.

With regard to sexual and gender-based violence, UNICEF is actually thinking about the issue countrywide. We are not just focused on camps and on the population living in them that is most vulnerable. We're actually trying to get away from saying “displaced persons”, in a way, because these are representative of the most vulnerable, not necessarily people who are displaced.

From UNICEF's perspective, sexual and gender-based violence is one of the threats affecting children and women in different communities all over the country. So what we've been focusing on is trying to look at it holistically from the perspective of a protective framework. What we're doing is working to try to train a cadre of social workers with MAST, the Ministère des Affaires Sociales et du Travail, and IBESR, the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches. We've trained about 200 and have ensured that referral mechanisms, treatment, and addressing the issue is integrated into the training.

We've also worked at the community level, through the partnership with over 85 different national organizations, to try to spark the setting up of child protection committees, which are an extension of the child-friendly space. These committees would actually have a role in identifying children and women who are potential victims. They would be trained to know where to access protective services and where to take their claims and their cases. The child-friendly spaces already have this feature, but the protection committee will have much stronger linkages to clinical facilities and things like that. We're trying to think of it as more of a systems approach and are not necessarily focused on just the camp-based population.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

We're going to move over here to Ms. Brown, and then we're going to have a second round. Oh, Mr. Goldring is going first.

Go ahead, Mr. Goldring.

October 18th, 2011 / 10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for being here today.

When talking about violence against women and violence against women and children, aspects affecting that certainly can be the lack of housing, the lack of food, and of course the lack of jobs for the family to be engaged in.

Dealing with those three issues, I see from the report from the Red Cross that some 7,500 homes have been developed or are expected to be developed in the Jacmel and Leogane area at a cost of some $43,300,000. If we work that out for the approximately one million who are without housing or have been without housing, and estimate 10 persons per house--and these are very modest houses--it would come out to some $5.5 billion to supply that housing. Given that this housing is virtually plywood boxes, am I correct with my math here that the cost of these plywood boxes is $5,500 each--for a plywood box?

The other aspect concerns the problems with land assembly and utilization of land. For legal ownership of land, I can understand that is an immense problem. But is it not possible to relegate some property that can be, at least temporarily, leased or used for a 10-year period, or whatever, so we can get on with it and put these houses on the land? Has that been looked at?

My second question deals with food and security. We're aware of the deforestation throughout the country. We're aware that it was a very serious problem before the earthquake. What has been done since then, and what is the status? Is it still a negative? Are they still importing food to feed people? For a while they were importing rice, when at one time they were a major supplier of rice throughout the region. Would you comment on what has been done on food and security? Those are certainly two aspects that affect marital breakdown and family violence and other social issues.

10:30 a.m.

Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Red Cross

Conrad Sauvé

Thank you.

Actually, in your second question you touched a little bit on the first one with deforestation. The issue is that these homes, actually...and two-thirds of them are already built.

It costs about $5,000 a unit, absolutely. These are wind-resistant to about 240 kilometres. The costs and the relationship to deforestation is that we have to bring the wood from Canada because there is no access to materials.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Is it all from Quebec?

10:30 a.m.

Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Red Cross

Conrad Sauvé

Yes. We put out a tender in Canada to find a supplier. And we have to bring the materials there because there are no existing materials in Haiti. That is part of the problem, and I think you've raised it.

I think one of the presentations talked about how we get away from patchwork.... You're asking if we find solutions. Well, we do, in terms of the housing projects. We work with local lawyers to get an agreement.... In the absence of clear land titles, we get an agreement between the landowner or the renter and the owner of the shelter, on the one hand, and we give a title to the shelter because it is a removable shelter.

So we are looking for solutions, and we're finding solutions in the absence of an overall system, and I think that's part of the challenge.

These homes are very well accepted by the Haitians. They're very appreciated. The concept was built with their participation.

I'm not sure about the math on the $5 billion. I need to look at that. It seems a little high, actually, but we could look at that.