Nick Young: In Haiti, rain deluges people's tents, and their needs are still vast

Share
Related Topics

Heavy rains have turned the spotlight back on Haiti. It's pouring again as I arrive, the water sluicing down on tents and makeshift shelters. Along with the shock at the continuing human suffering following January's earthquake, the images are provoking another reaction; why, when so much money has been donated, are people still living in appalling conditions? Why, when the world knew the rains were coming, are people still forced to shelter under tarpaulin? Where are the new houses? Has the relief effort dissolved in the rain?

Haiti represents one of the fastest aid distribution operations ever undertaken. This week, shelter distributions led by the Red Cross will reach their millionth person. Tarpaulins, tents and plastic sheeting have been put into the hands and over the heads of around 100,000 people a week. This is despite well-publicised problems including a devastated port, blocked roads and a clogged airport.

I visited La Piste and AutoMeca camps, both amazingly clean and tidy, despite the grotesquely overcrowded conditions. We've built new latrines here, despite the shortage of space and wood – one for every 209 people. The target is one for every 100. The kids all call out; earlier, they were dancing with two clowns who were teaching them basic hygiene messages. But hygiene is a distant concept with so few toilets, so little clean water, for so many people.

The needs are vast and we always want to go faster but we have to be realistic. In New York, in the richest country in the world, teams of the best equipped experts on earth took two years to clear the rubble of the World Trade Centre. We must not let pressure to speed up our response lead to errors of judgement which could undermine recovery, and jeopardise people's lives.

Rubble is being cleared, and new sites are being identified so that those in most danger can be evacuated to safer places. Agencies have begun work on robust transitional shelters, but it is inevitable that thousands will be living in temporary shelters in camps when the worst rain hits.

Agencies are working relentlessly, but it is a sad reality that, with the rains coming, the situation for people living in the camps will get worse before it gets better.



Sir Nick Young is CEO of the British Red Cross; www.redcross.org.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
The number of schools converting to academies in the primary sector has now overtaken those in the secondary sector – 2,299 to 1,884 (Getty)  

In its headlong rush to make a profit, our education system is in danger of ignoring its main purpose

Janet Street-Porter
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee