WASHINGTON, January 18, 2011 — The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US$15 million grant to help Haiti’s efforts to fight the cholera epidemic. The new project will boost the country's medical response to the disease while expanding its capacity to monitor and prevent such outbreaks. The program is part of the World Bank’s US$479 million reconstruction support.
“Haiti needs all the help it can get to respond to the deadly cholera epidemic which is ravaging parts of the country,” said Ronald Baudin, Haiti’s Minister of Finance. “The continued support of the World Bank will be key for saving lives and re-establishing the public health service network."
Since the onset of the epidemic last October, about 149,000 cases have been reported and more than 3,000 people have died, according to the latest United Nations data. Haiti’s humanitarian situation was already precarious due to the January 12, 2010 earthquake that struck the country and left about one million people homeless and living in camps throughout Port-au-Prince and other cities.
To quickly contain cholera's deadly advance, the Cholera Emergency Response Grant will finance public and non-public efforts on the ground to respond to emergency cholera needs at the departmental level, including provision of urgent care and treatment for affected populations and vulnerable groups as well as preventive interventions at the community level.
Preventive actions include hygiene and food handling awareness campaigns in communities and schools where kids are being taught about the importance of using clean water and soap to avoid contagion. These activities will complement significant hygiene awareness and prevention efforts already underway, such as the creation of a "Public Health Brigade" to carry out cholera treatment and prevention work throughout the country.
In addition, the US$15 million grant will strengthen the emergency response capacity of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and the Haitian National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (DINEPA). Specifically, this new funding will provide technical assistance to help improve the state's early warning response to outbreaks, monitor incidents, strengthen medical waste management, and build implementation capacity.
“Key to the success of these efforts is the joint response to the emergency, involving not only agencies and NGOs but, especially, the Haitians themselves,” said Alexandre Abrantes, the World Bank Special Envoy to Haiti. “The new grant will be used to contract experienced NGOs for immediate cholera response activities and strengthen the capacity of the Government to respond to the epidemic.”
Haiti's January 12 earthquake crippled the country's public infrastructure, killing up to 30 percent of Haiti's most senior public officials, while destroying or putting out of commission water and sanitation systems. One year later, the displaced are still living in temporary camps, with unsafe water and sanitation, a breeding ground for cholera.
Through a Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery grant of US$200,000, the World Bank is identifying national and international actors already involved in these tasks, preparing a standardized training plan and training a core group of 250 trainers. It will also finance an awareness and prevention campaign.
The World Bank has also provided assistance to the Directorate of Civil Protection since the beginning of the outbreak, in late October, to coordinate the response of the government and its partners. This assistance has supported the setup and manning of the National Emergency Operation Center and management of the national campaign 'Konbit kont Kolera' which raises awareness on cholera and its prevention.
In the aftermath of the January earthquake, the World Bank Group (WBG) committed US$479 million for the first 24 months of reconstruction. One year later, two thirds of this pledge has been delivered. The WBG allocated US$340 million to Haiti in the form of new grants for reconstruction, disbursements to the Government of Haiti, communities and non-governmental actors, debt relief, and private sector funding.
So far, the Bank disbursed US$129 million or US$11 million per month for actions that have protected displaced persons from flooding, fed infants and provided supplements to pregnant women, kept children in school, trained teachers, rebuilt roads and bridges, provided support to communities, started neighborhood upgrading and community housing reconstruction, and rebuilt government facilities.
Note to Editors: On November 24, 2010, the World Bank announced it was preparing a US$10 million emergency grant to fight cholera in Haiti. The figure was increased by US$5 million, totaling the US$15 million approved today by the Board of Directors.