Another Sunday in Port au Prince. It is still very hot, one of the drivers reckoned that the humidity was about 70% in the evenings which is an indication of rain on the way. So many people still sleeping out in the open and sanitation is not good in any way so there will be many implications when rains come. The first are likely to be heavy.
Friday spent a lot of time stuck in traffic. There have been riots in the town centre associated with massive food distributions that have been taking place this week by World Food Programme. The riots meant a complete logjam on the roads. Although Minustah, the UN site from before the quake, is out of town the traffic just didn’t move much. I was late for a meeting there and then have to wait about two hours to be collected by the driver again. Eventually he had to abandon his car on the side of the road and walk to get me! Case management systems for tracking children are being set up, linking in UNICEFF, Haitian government, Save etc. This is for unaccompanied and also children who are in certain situations with carers but not parents. Girls are particularly identified as at risk. We had a training meeting on needs assessment for partners on Thursday, and they identified a high level of concern with prostitution and child trafficking.
Spent quite a bit of time this week on organisation of the food distribution programme operated out of the church compound, hopefully will get it properly sorted the beginning of next week, they are also looking at a giant water filter which will have its own issues with regards to distribution, access, hygiene promotion. There was a community meeting yesterday for Delmas 75, the area we are living in, the police attended and agreed to be present outside the compound when the distribution is on. The situation is such though that some of the police are recipients of the food distribution.
The scale of the devastation in the city strikes you every time you go in and see the massive task just to clear the roads. Debris still lies on roads, tarpaulins are stretched out over half the road in some places to give cover to families. You often see families camped out against a house which is lop sided and half fallen down. Roof, floors and garage are concertinaed together and a car and beds sandwiched in between. Half a floor might hand down the front of a house held on only by some steel wire. I saw a balcony which just looked like a flap at the front of a house as it hang down and another where the grill at the front of the balcony had captured all the possessions from the room as it was squashed, but there is no way to access it. Many who could afford it have gone to the US and so their houses stand abandoned. All around you see people trying to sweep out the debris and sift through the rubble, there are so many tons on rubble over such a wide area, the clear up just stretches on into the future. Rumours abound about setting up a new capital and abandoning Port au Prince, statements that no building should take place in the area, and the President is keen to clear migrants out of the town back to the rural areas.
The needs assessment team has been in Leogane since Friday, apparently some areas they are going just have nothing left, wood structures in some communities have been left standing but landslides have also affected people. I am working with partners in Port au Prince this week on their needs assessments for the work they are doing. They are all in a difficult situation, trying to assist those around them, but also dealing with their own grief and loss.
Our little camp city is a haven, apart from the cockerel that doesn’t know that dawn is not at midnight, and the dogs who only wake up at midnight and bark throughout the night. Food is fine with a good mix. Breakfast is porridge made in your bowl from oats, dried milk and sugar – tastes better than it sounds. Sandwich lunch and whatever the cook makes for dinner. Our logs guys have worked really hard to try and get some semblance of order and ensure that we have water, transport etc. One of our nightly routines is to guess the contents of the ultimate tech loggie. He has about 8 different pockets and we are always amazed at the size of the items that come out – a bit like Mary Poppins handbag. A revelation the other evening was a stealth belt, in addition to the utility belt. A stealth belt has waterproof compartments and a hidden little knife. It amuses us anyway. Yesterday evening we began watching Spooks. We could only watch two episodes as we didn’t have any power and the laptop batteries began to run down, it was quite funny though all of us sitting in the pitch black, in the office, with a mosi coil on a very hot sticky night, on hard metal chairs getting enthused about a television programme which was 8 years old. We were very excited the other evening to obtain wifi – unfortunately at the moment it only seems to work for a few minutes in the early morning and maybe, if you are lucky, a few minutes at one other time. Communication continues to be a challenge. Google, Yahoo and hotmail accounts are inaccessible due to the speed of connection. England and the snow and cold seem very far away.