Relocation Plans May Have Social Health Implications
The Huffington Post has started a Haiti blog, "Rebuilding Haiti: Dispatches From the Relief Effort." The blog will have posts from relief workers, both from the ground and from international support teams. Yesterday, Rowan Moore Gerety of UNICEF, posted about the relocation plans for Port-au-Prince. With the relocation moving extremely slowly, the sudden movement may mean that beyond public health problems, there could be social health problems:
In Haiti, the rainy season is about to begin, necessitating relocation of the score of people displaced by the earthquake and currently living in over crowded camps. There are plans to move roughly 150,000 people currently living in the camps to the center of Port-au-Prince by May, yet only one site with a capacity of under 4,000 people has been secured to date.
When rains drenched the capital on Thursday night, the Golf Club de Pétionville turned to mud. It was a frightening preview of what the rainy season will hold for the 45,000 people who live there if they stay. Tents collapsed. Ditches overflowed with sewage. People and their belongings were swept downhill.
And yet the people who are to be moved have not yet been told what choices lie before them. Why the wait?
Acting in concert with the UN and the US Army, the Haitian Government's intended strategy for relocation has been to allow Port-au-Prince residents to return home or to their neighborhoods, but the large-scale rubble removal that would require has yet to begin, shifting the focus of the effort to temporary camps on the outskirts of the city.
With negotiations for several privately-held sites ongoing, the time frame for planning and preparation in advance of the rainy season is shrinking. On February 19, the Government identified 5 potential sites to be laid out and prepared as temporary camps able to host 110,000. More than a month later, only one of these sites is available for use as a camp, suitable to host less than 3% of the population that the government plans to move by May.