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.