Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am accompanied today by my colleagues, Lise Filiatrault, CIDA's Regional Director General for the Americas and Isabelle Bérard, Director General of the Haiti Program.
Building on the presentation by my colleague, I will be highlighting the role of CIDA in response to natural disasters, with specific reference to our experience after the earthquake in Haiti, as well as to natural disasters in the region more broadly.
CIDA is the Government of Canada's lead agency for the provision of humanitarian assistance in developing countries. In this role, our efforts are focused on saving lives, alleviating suffering, and preserving the dignity of those affected by humanitarian crises. In 2010 alone, CIDA responded to 49 natural disasters, big and small, in the developing world.
As noted by Ms. Goldberg, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, the primary responsibility to respond rests with the government of the affected country. When a government lacks this capacity and requires international assistance, CIDA and other donors can consider support through a well-established and coordinated international response system.
CIDA's response is based on needs identified by expert humanitarian partners in a given context. These needs vary depending on, among other things, the scale and nature of the crisis and the pre-existing vulnerability of the affected population.
CIDA can draw on a number of targeted tools to support a Government of Canada response. Our selection among those tools depends in part on whether we are undertaking the sole response by the Government of Canada or are part of a broader, Whole-of-Government response.
CIDA's primary tool is the provision of financial support to experienced humanitarian partners that have proven capacities to deliver the needed assistance in a given crisis in a given part of the world. These partners include United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement, and Canadian and international non-governmental organizations. CIDA funding facilitates the quick work of these organizations to meet the urgent, life-saving needs of crisis-affected populations, including food, shelter, potable water, and health and medical assistance.
Over the years, CIDA has developed a range of additional tools to effectively prepare for, and respond to, rapid onset disasters. Among other things, it maintain a stockpile of relief items, such as blankets, tarps, hygiene and family kits, mosquito nets and water buckets, to meet the needs of up to 25,000 people. It supports the deployment of Canadian humanitarian experts to disaster settings, and it works with the Canadian Red Cross to establish a rapidly deployable field hospital based in Canada. Through this initiative, Canada is contributing to a faster, more effective emergency response system.
CIDA has also refined its programming tools to make our responses more timely. We created a draw-down facility with the Red Cross that facilitates the rapid start-up of relief operations for small natural disasters. This allows us to provide funds, generally within 24 hours of a request, to National Red Cross Societies, that is, local actors, from as little as $10,000 to $50,000 per emergency.
We also provide annual funding to flexible pooled fund mechanisms such as the United Nations Central Emergency Fund to enable our partners to rapidly conduct needs assessments and provide immediate support to disaster-affected communities.
Underpinning each of these mechanisms are the partnerships that we have with implementing agencies. We prioritize those who have demonstrated results in the past, have significant expertise, and work in accordance with established international principles, guidelines and codes of conduct. CIDA also coordinates our official response with the international community to ensure that there are no duplications or gaps in the global response effort and that the global response is proportionate vis-à-vis crises everywhere in the world.
Turning to Haiti, in response to the 2010 earthquake, the first CIDA staff were on a plane within 12 hours as part of the government's initial assessment team, as mentioned by Elissa--the ISST. As Elissa also mentioned, not only did the Government of Canada use all of its tool kits, but CIDA also used all of the elements of its response kit.
CIDA's humanitarian response to this earthquake was the largest in its history. Over $150 million in humanitarian assistance was provided within the first few months of the disaster through UN agencies, the Red Cross, and Canadian NGOs, to meet urgent and ongoing needs on the ground. This included emergency medical care, food, water, sanitation, shelter, and support for the logistics and coordination of the international response. Funding for protection services also addressed the heightened risk of abuse, exploitation, and sexual and gender-based violence for the most vulnerable and precarious camp environments.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, CIDA drew on its emergency stockpile of relief supplies to support the work of implementing partners and funded the deployment of 12 humanitarian experts to UN organizations and the Red Cross movement. CIDA complemented this assistance with the deployment of eight humanitarian staff to the field during the first five months of the response. These officers, including four CIDA staff who were embedded full time with the Canadian Forces during their deployment, played a key role by liaising with and advising Canadian Forces on humanitarian issues, supporting coordination efforts, engaging with international partners and monitoring programming, and informing future funding recommendations and decisions.
As the second-largest bilateral donor following the earthquake, Canada, through CIDA, has contributed significantly to the following achievements of the international response. A few examples are: 4.3 million Haitians received emergency food assistance; 1.7 million people were provided with safe drinking water; 300,000 families received emergency shelter materials; access to health and medical services was significantly improved; and children received protection and educational support.
In more recent months, CIDA has provided $7 million in additional humanitarian assistance to address the ongoing cholera epidemic that has resulted in over 4,500 deaths to date.
Canada's humanitarian assistance complements our long-term engagement in Haiti and has generated mutually reinforcing results. It is important to note that Canada has provided development assistance to Haiti for over four decades. Haiti is one of CIDA's countries of focus and the largest recipient of development assistance in the Americas.
CIDA's thematic priorities--namely, stimulating sustainable economic growth, securing the future of children and youth, and increasing food security--guide CIDA's work in Haiti. CIDA's longer-term development assistance program in Haiti is implemented in collaboration with trusted Canadian and international partners and is designed to meet the needs of the people, reinforce the Haitian government, foster stability, and improve security and access to basic services.
In addition to our immediate and considerable humanitarian response following the earthquake, Canada also demonstrated its commitment to Haiti in the medium and long terms by making a two-year, $400 million commitment to support the action plan for national recovery and development of Haiti and toward funding the priorities of the Haitian government. The action plan called for the creation of two coordination mechanisms: the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. Canada is a proactive and strategic member of both of these bodies.
The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, or CCRIF, a regional risk pooling facility, is an essential part of CIDA's multi-year, $600 million commitment to the Caribbean. The CCRIF paid out nearly $8 million U.S. to Haiti immediately following the 2010 earthquake.
As I noted earlier, I am joined today by Lise Filiatrault and Isabelle Bérard, who can answer any questions you may have on CIDA's development program in the Caribbean and Haiti.
While the 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic event, there were also many smaller-scale disasters to hit the Caribbean region in the past years. Since 2007, we've provided over $12 million in response to natural disasters in the Caribbean. CIDA's response to humanitarian crises in the Caribbean region reflects our principled approach and demonstrates our efforts to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of our assistance.
In recent years, CIDA has provided relief to those affected by hurricanes and tropical storms in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and throughout the lesser Antilles, including Barbados, St. Lucia, and Saint Vincent and Grenadines. CIDA has responded to flooding in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as the 2009 earthquake in Honduras.
CIDA has also made significant investments in reducing disaster risks and vulnerabilities in the Caribbean region. I'll give you a few examples.
For over 20 years, CIDA has been supporting the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO, for its emergency preparedness and disaster relief program in the Americas. Canada is currently managing the Caribbean disaster risk management program to strengthen regional, national, and community-level capacity for the mitigation, management, and coordinated response to natural hazards. Canada has also contributed towards the capitalization of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, established to reduce financial vulnerability of participating countries to catastrophic natural disasters by providing access to insurance. Since 2007, the CCRIF has made over $33 million worth of insurance payouts to eight Caribbean countries, including, as I mentioned earlier, the almost $8 million U.S. to Haiti.
These are all examples of our commitment to providing a timely, effective, and appropriate response to meet emergency needs and to reducing the vulnerability of people affected by natural disasters. They also highlight CIDA's consistent efforts to strengthen our disaster response tool kit to remain well placed and well prepared to respond to humanitarian needs in the Caribbean region in the years ahead. Although catastrophic-scale disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, shine a temporary spotlight on CIDA's humanitarian assistance, we are constantly responding, behind the scenes, to the many less visible crises where humanitarian needs are no less urgent and assistance is equally life-saving. It is this variety of crisis situations, large and small, and across many different contexts, which drives us to constantly adapt and refine our tool box of response mechanisms.