The importance of effective Disaster Risk Reduction
The impact of the earthquake, the succession of natural catastrophes, Haiti's endemic poverty, the accelerated degradation of the environment, as well as the global economic downturn, have all contributed to dramatically increasing the vulnerability of the Haitian population.
The earthquake of 12 January 2010 has had deep implications in terms of the management of risks and disasters. In addition to increasing the vulnerability of the Haitian people, it has de-stabilized the National System for the Management of Risks and Disasters, and weakened the operational capacities of the Department of Civil Protection and the Permanent Secretariat for the Management of Risks and Disasters at the central, departmental and communal levels. Furthermore, the devastation and its resultant impacts on the environment, coupled with the onset of the rainy and hurricane seasons, have sharpened the focus on the need for more effective environmental management in Haiti. In particular, the management of watershed areas is seen as a key means of mitigating further disasters brought on by tropical storms and hurricanes.
The main objective of UNDP’s approach is to increase the resilience of the population to disasters by strengthening the system for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) at the central, departmental and communal levels. Disaster Risk Reduction has become a priority for UNDP in Haiti, particularly since the hurricanes of 2008. It sees DRR as an integral and transversal component of its programme, which can support the sustainability of initiatives across other sectors. To date, UNDP has made a significant contribution to DRR in Haiti through its partnership with the Government. It has supported the establishment of a National System for the Management of Risks and Disasters, and the strengthening of the Department of Civil Protection. Over the next three years, UNDP will build upon and strengthen these initiatives in order to ensure that the Government of Haiti’s capacity is sufficient to effectively manage and implement DRR and the central, departmental and communal levels.
Prior to the earthquake, the Government of Haiti through the Inter-ministerial Committee on Town and Country Planning’s Vulnerability Reduction Unit (Comité Interministériel d´Aménagement du Territoire (CIAT) Cellule de Reduction de la Vulnerabilité (CIV)), which reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office, requested UNDP’s assistance for the design and implementation of Watershed Management Plans for 13 of the country’s major watershed areas and hydrological zones covering an area of over 10,024 square kilometres. The objective is to improve the management of these areas, as a means of rehabilitating and preserving natural resources thereby mitigating the threat of future disasters linked to landslides and flash flooding. With the Government of Haiti, UNDP will pursue this initiative over the next three years.