Something as small as a pencil and a book can mean the world to the children after disaster. UNICEF helped six-year old Gloria and thousands like her start school in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake by training teachers, reopening schools and supplying school kits. “I’m happy because I come to class and I can join my friends,” she says. © UNICEF/UNI137176/Dormino
On January 12 2010, a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, just south of the capital Port-au-Prince. Around 230,000 people were estimated to have been killed and another 2 million displaced from their homes. The country was left reeling from disaster.
With decades of experience helping Haiti recover from conflict and instability, UNICEF was already on the ground when the earthquake hit. We rapidly scaled up our work to meet the critical needs of Haiti’s children in the aftermath of emergency.
In earthquake-affected communities, UNICEF made sure 600,000 people had access to toilets, hand washing points, vaccinations and mosquito nets to to reduce the spread of diarrhoea and malaria. More than two thirds of households in these regions were supplied with drinking water.
With half a million children extremely vulnerable to exploitation, UNICEF helped provide family tracing services as well as safe spaces for children to play, learn and get the psychosocial support they needed to cope with their distressing experiences.
In 2011, Haiti was rocked once again, this time by a cholera epidemic with 350,000 suspected cases that year. UNICEF worked with Haiti’s government to stop the spread of the deadly disease by increasing access to clean water and better sanitation, sharing messages about good hygiene and supporting better health services. By 2015, cases of cholera had reduced tenfold to 36,000.
Before and after Haiti’s earthquake:
UNICEF remains committed to making the rights of every child in Haiti a reality. In the five years after Haiti’s earthquake, UNICEF helped achieve lasting change. Before the earthquake,
- 20 per cent of children had no access to safe water; after the earthquake 65 per cent of households had clean drinking water.
- less than 50 per cent of children aged six to 11 were in primary school – but by 2012, that number was 77 percent.
- one in every ten children under the age of five were acutely malnourished; today, that number has been halved.
- routine immunisation coverage among children was at 58 per cent; after the earthquake it’s more than 80 per cent.
- 90 per cent of schools in the worst-affected areas were destroyed by Haiti’s earthquake, but the training of teachers and encouraging school attendance since means more children attend primary school in Haiti today than ever before.
UNICEF responds to hundreds of emergencies every year. We help children and their families recover from natural disease and stay safe when disease and conflict breaks out.