Hurricane Season 2017: UNFPA Plan Development Workshop, complementing the National Contingency Plan

31 July 2017
A moment of the workshop on the contingency plan

(By : Peleg Charles, OCHA Public Information Analyst Haiti)

Port-au-Prince, July 26, 2017 --- UNFPA Haiti organized on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 July 2017 a workshop to elaborate its contingency plan for the current hurricane season. Representatives of government, United Nations agencies and civil society with expertise in risk management and humanitarian responses participated in this exercise to complement the national contingency plan.

Haiti is among the 3 most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. The objective of the workshop was to strengthen the National Contingency Plan, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health needs and gender-based violence. This document will target young people, women of childbearing age, pregnant women and adolescent girls as their main target groups.

Humanitarian context in Haiti

The head of the OCHA office, Vedaste Kalima, recalled the vulnerability of the country to disasters. While the country was barely recovering from the post-earthquake humanitarian context, Hurricane Matthew stirred the knife in the wound. "Matthew has left more than 2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance," he said before discussing the problem of 204,911 returnees from the Dominican Republic registered by the IOM in the context of the binational crisis.

In preparation for this hurricane season, the Government is developing a Contingency Plan scenario for a response to a Category IV Caribbean hurricane that may cross Hispaniola Island from the Dominican Republic. In this scenario, emergency shelter schools are damaged as well as health structures, access roads, plantations, among others.

"The scenario for the contingency plan for 2017 is based on Matthew's experience, since we have to rely on an event whose probability exists. We have learned that the season may be hectic. It is true that this does not mean that hurricanes will pass over Haiti, but it is generally necessary to prepare for the worst, "said the representative of the Directorate of Civil Protection, Joseph Felix.

UNFPA officials took the opportunity to present a review of the actions already implemented as part of the response to Hurricane Matthew. The agency has facilitated access to obstetric care, doses of vaccines, advocates for the situation of women of reproductive age to be taken into account in the responses. The agency has also worked to combat gender-based violence, which is often seen in the humanitarian emergency phase.

Participants welcome the initiative

"This workshop enabled some government and civil society actors to better understand the process of developing the Contingency Plan. The reminder to take into account the potential needs of women of childbearing age and women victims of gender-based violence will strengthen the National Contingency Plan, "said Jean Max Gabriel of the Permanent Secretariat for Risk and Disaster Management in Haiti.

For her part, Doctor Mireille Salomon Peck, consultant for the community unit of the GHESKIO Center, praised the approach of bringing together various actors involved in gender and health issues during a disaster. "Pre-disaster strategies will provide more structured and effective responses to a potential emergency response."

The Director of Coordination of the Departmental Offices of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Women's Rights urged the political authorities to demonstrate their willingness to take into account the essential needs of women in response strategy documents. "It is necessary to train local elected representatives, who are freshly elected and who play the role of community and local civil protection committees, so that they take into account the disaggregated data when they trace information after the first evaluations", suggested Mimose Royal André, while recalling that the MCFDF is advocating for better structured emergency shelters. Among other things, she stressed the need to take into account lighting needs, access to toilets, prevention of the right to hide in emergency shelters, female heads of single-parent households and women farmers.

The development of the UNFPA contingency plan will be an important chapter in the national contingency plan in that it will identify the specific needs of the various vulnerable groups.