Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR


Brussels, 10 January 2011

HAITI ONE YEAR ON: Europe's action in Haiti

One year ago, on 12 January 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake.


  • 222 750 people dead

  • 1.7 million people left homeless

  • 60% of hospitals destroyed

  • Around 5 000 schools destroyed (23% of the total of Haiti)

  • 3 million people affected (nearly one third of the population)

  • Total impact cost around USD 7.8 billion (5.9 billion)

The earthquake mainly destroyed the capital, Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, striking government facilities, key infrastructure and the areas with the greatest concentration of population.

Before the earthquake, Haiti was already one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere - many of its people relied on foreign aid for their daily staples; the health system was underdeveloped; the roads were inadequate and the country was marked by years of weak governance.

Yet, a situation that was already complex before the earthquake, became far more complicated in the disaster’s aftermath. To make matters worse, throughout 2010 Haiti continued to be affected by further problems - Hurricane Tomas, the cholera epidemic and political volatility.

Post-earthquake aid therefore had to be delivered in an environment characterised by numerous logistical, infrastructure, social and political challenges.

Unlike other disasters Haiti was unique in the complexity of the post-earthquake constraints – the capital was destroyed, the infrastructure was devastated and the government and humanitarian agencies on the ground lost a lot of staff, resources and facilities.

However, despite these challenges, our first months of assistance provided clear results. EU intervention was focused on 3 main areas, in line with the Haitian authorities' priorities and according to the division of tasks with EU Member States - infrastructure, supporting the State and emergency shelter.

The EU response

The EU is the leading donor to Haiti.


The EU Member States pledged almost €201 million for emergency relief. In addition, the emergency humanitarian funding of the European Commission totalled €120 million.

25 European countries were involved in the relief effort channelled assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (MIC). The EU Civil Protection assistance included 12 urban search and rescue teams, 7 assessment teams, 38 medical teams and supplies, 2 field hospitals, 6 water sanitation units, 2 334 tents for approximately 20 000 people and one base-camp with capacity for 300 people.

MEDIUM AND Long-term reconstruction

At the International Donors' Conference in New York on 31 March, donors pledged a total of $9.8 billion for medium and long-term reconstruction. 

A single EU pledge: The EU made a single pledge amounting to €1.235 billion. This pledge pooled together pledges from the European Commission, 18 EU Member States and the European Investment Bank.

EU delivery to date: As part of the single EU pledge made in New York, 18 EU Member States pledged a total of €775 million (Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). The European Commission pledged €460 million; this pledge has been increased to €522 million. By the end of 2010, the EU disbursements reached €331.9 million.

Delivering on the EU pledge, the Commission and the Member States are applying an approach of joint programming to their reconstruction assistance. This process aims at improving coordination and achieving a clear division of labour between different actors. A special focus continues to be given to the following areas: infrastructure, water and sanitation, education, health, governance, agriculture and rural development.

Examples of EU Member States' reconstruction activities:

Spain focuses on water and sanitation in Port-au-Prince and six smaller cities. This effort is aimed at improving the situation of the estimated 52% of the Haitians who still don't have access to water and sanitation. The Spanish cooperation also supports programmes in agriculture and rural development, in education through support to the Ministry of Education, protection of the cultural heritage and in governance.

France is financing the reconstruction of the State University Hospital in Port-au-Prince. A special focus is given to the territorial rebuilding through the rehabilitation of shantytowns in Port-au-Prince and support to cadastre reform. French cooperation is also active in increasing access and improving quality of the education. To support macroeconomic stability, France proceeded to debt relief and provided budget support.

Germany will finance the construction of the hydropower plant Peligre which will improve Haiti's energy generation capacities and create the basis for economic development. Germany will also support reconstruction projects in the city of Léogâne.

The Netherlands will focus on providing housing and supporting income-generating activities. This contribution will be fully channelled through a Consortium of Dutch NGOs (SHO) in addition to the funds raised from the Dutch public and private sector through fundraising.

Education is a priority for Spain, France, Finland and Luxembourg.

Situation of children is of a particular concern in the post-earthquake reality of Haiti. Slovenia is financing construction of the child care modular units (for up to 100 children).

Reducing Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is crucial to the sustainability of reconstruction. The United Kingdom is supporting disaster risk reduction programmes, including structural damage assessments and the reconstruction of safer homes and health facilities.

Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and the UK committed to debt cancellation for a total value of €149 million.

Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Spain and Sweden pledged their contribution to the World Bank managed Haiti Reconstruction Fund. The role of this Fund is to finance reconstruction projects implementing the Government Action Plan for the Recovery and Development of Haiti.

How the European Commission has responded

The European Commission responded in the first few hours after the earthquake, sending humanitarian and civil protection experts to the scene and immediately committing €3 million.


  • The emergency humanitarian funding of the Commission has been €120 million in total.

  • Beneficiaries: about 4 million people.

  • Sectors of intervention: provision of shelter, camp management, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene, health & orthopaedics, nutrition, food assistance, coordination and logistics/telecommunications, protection and disaster risk reduction.


  • 25 European countries got involved in the joint relief effort, channelling assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (MIC).

  • Three EU Civil Protection Teams deployed on site to coordinate European assistance, carry out needs assessments and support the international relief effort directly deployed a water purification unit and five advanced medical posts with a surgery.


European Commission interventions in the long term are focused on infrastructure and supporting the State, in line with the Haitian authorities' priorities.

In New York, the European Commission pledged €460 million to support the Government's Action Plan for National Recovery and Development of Haiti. This pledge was subsequently increased to €522 million.

Several programmes are currently ongoing or about to be launched. Disbursements in 2010 have reached €74 million. The disbursements in 2011 are forecast at €150 million. Development and reconstruction programmes have multiannual implementation periods, over which programme activities are gradually put in place. This means that effective disbursements are spread over the whole duration of the programme according to advancement of activities.

Global Commission pledge in NY for long term assistance





327 M€

74 M€


195 M€*


2012 onwards




522 M€

522 M€


Karel De Gucht, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid at the time of the earthquake, visited Haiti a few days after it. Subsequently, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Cathy Ashton, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Response, Kristina Georgieva, Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, all visited Haiti in the first few months after the earthquake.

Focus: Our flagship stories

The following case studies highlight the European Commission's main programmes on the ground in Haiti since the earthquake. Contracts and projects are ongoing. All achievement figures presented are final or foreseen figures at the end of activities.

Food assistance

The earthquake in January affected more than three million people.

The Commission's humanitarian response, with €33.6 million for food assistance, is benefitting (and will benefit at the end of activities) around 4 million Haitians.

The activities carried out by the Commission and its partners include:

  • Food Assistance : distribution of more than 67 000 tons of food

  • Provision of Ready to Eat Meals

  • Treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition in settlements

  • Unprecedented cash for work program (which enables Haitians to gain employment as they work on rebuilding their community), focusing on rubble removal, risk reduction and protection of livelihoods both at a national and community level

  • Vouchers for access to fresh food available in markets

  • Support for agricultural recovery (seeds and tools)

  • Blanket supplementary feeding for children under 5 (general feeding to prevent malnutrition)

  • Breastfeeding promotion

  • Nutritional programme for children under 5, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers

Helping to rebuild homes

The earthquake in January left over 1.7 million people homeless. Immediately afterwards, the European Commission helped to provide emergency shelter for 1.5 million people by distributing tents, plastic sheets and building materials or building temporary shelter. It also provided essential non-food items such as jerrycans, blankets, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets.

As makeshift camps sprung up, the European Commission also helped to manage them – planning and organising sites, and collecting data for protection purposes. In total, €38.4 million out of the humanitarian funding were devoted to shelter activities.

In the longer term, the European Commission is committed to improving the situation of displaced people living in makeshift camps and provisional shelter, by providing 20 000 families with kits to enable them to build wooden homes which are resistant to hurricanes and earthquakes. These would last for several years – giving families much more security than the plastic sheeting provides. Where possible, young Haitians from slums will be involved in building these homes, under Cash for Work programmes.

Reconstruction of main roads

In the aftermath of the earthquake, one of the biggest challenges for the relief effort was the poor state of Haitian roads. Decades of deterioration (in 2004, only 5% of the country's roads were judged to be in a good condition) meant that it was very hard to get aid across the country to where it was needed.

The 200km road between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitian (Haiti's second city) is a crucial link between the north and south of the country. In January, the journey between the cities took a massive eight hours. Now, thanks to a European Commission programme, this travelling time will be reduced to just 3 hours.

The first section of the road (between Port-au-Prince and Mirebalais) has already been completed and has led to a 200% increase in the number of people and commercial vehicles travelling between the two cities. Rehabilitation of the next section from Mirebalais to the city of Hinche is ongoing. In total, the European commission will invest a further €160 million into the Haitian road network.

Road projects on this scale lead to improved economic prospects in the area; enabling local businesses to get their goods across the country in a better condition and access markets that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

How Commission funding is making a difference in other areas





and support to

the State

€18.7 million

The EC has committed to rehouse and equip a number of key Ministries destroyed in the earthquake such as the Ministry of Interior and Local Authorities and Ministry of Transport and Public Works.





The EC has provided immediate financial support and technical assistance to the Ministry of Finance in order to enable the country to resume operations and secure priority expenditure in social services.

This support has allowed the Haitian government, faced with unforeseen emergency costs, to maintain critical spending, especially in health, education and security. For example, it has ensured that salaries can be paid to teachers, health workers, policemen, and staff in public sector.


22.2 million

Helping 3 million people access safe drinking water and sanitation by:

Distributing more than 2 000 000 litres of drinking water per day by truck (over the first months)

Distributing 50 000 hygiene kits for 250 000 people

Repairing water systems

Providing water in rehabilitated schools

Setting up emergency latrines

Rehabilitating springs, water sources and catchment systems


15 million

The EC provided health assistance for 3 million people through:

  • Emergency response units

  • 18 mobile clinics and rehabilitation of 9 existing health facilities

  • Providing psychosocial support to almost 60 000 people

  • Provision of primary health care to more than 2 million people


€5.8 million

The EU-funded Programme for Improvement of Quality Education in Haiti allows:

  • for building or rehabilitation of schools

  • the training of teachers and distribution of school kits, including items such as exercise and textbooks

  • the programme supports the schooling of more than 150 000 pupils around the country and trains 3 000 teachers.


€70 million

The Economic Development of the North of Haiti programme aims to respond to the need to develop economic areas across the country, beyond the capital.

Planned jointly with other donors, this programme will contribute to the creation of an industrial park which will help to create jobs in the textile industry, tourism and agriculture.


€1.5 million

The programme aims at supporting sustainable mango production and improving access to markets for small farmers in Haiti.

EC support for the Haitian mango production should directly help 10 000 local producers, as well as 100 local producer associations.


€3.7 million

This programme supports different initiatives in cultural expression, including theatre, cinema, audiovisual arts and multimedia, for example through the organisation of festivals and other cultural events and by training professionals and artists in new techniques and business planning.

The programme aims to create jobs and business opportunities in the cultural sector and help Haitian artists to access the international markets.


€1 million

This programme aims to reduce poverty by enabling farmers to access credit.

The micro-credits allow the farmers to purchase seeds and machinery and in this way to increase their production.

This means that farmers are better able to feed their families and sell the surplus to cover other basic needs.


€5.5 million

This programme works on the legal framework related to decentralisation on the one hand, and directly supports local projects (proposed through business plans) on the other hand.

By doing so, the programme reinforces the capacities of local authorities to provide basic services to the population.


€20 million

In order to reduce the vulnerability of the one million people living in makeshift camps, and help to restart the local economy, this project creates immediate temporary job opportunities in rebuilding and rehabilitation projects.

Over a six month period, up to 220 000 critically affected households will be provided with a one-month cash income, thus benefitting a total population of 950 000.

Special attention will be given to women, youth and disabled members of the community.

The project also works on the reinforcement of Haitian Civil Protection structures and on the involvement of the population in the response to crises caused by natural disasters, by setting up a first response intervention mechanism at local level, a Crisis Room within the DPC (Direction de Protection Civil) and a Government communication strategy for situations of crisis or post-crisis.

(Contracts and projects are ongoing. All achievement figures presented are final or foreseen figures at the end of activities.)

Cholera epidemic

Facts and figures

(As of 01/01/11)


Number of deaths in the country

3 651

Number of hospital admissions in the country

95 039

Total number of cases in the country

171 304

Providing water, medical treatment and health centres (€22 million)

€12 million were refocused from the earthquake funding + €10 million from a follow up decision

  • The European Commission responded rapidly to the cholera epidemic, providing access to safe drinking water for over 650 000 people.

  • It also provided enough treatment for over 158 000 people in the form of medical assistance, cholera kits, drugs and medicines, as well as giving out simple but crucial items such as soap. Hygiene promotion and cholera sensitization benefitted over 1 million people.

  • Thanks to European Commission funding over 894 000 people could benefit from improved sanitation facilities through the construction of latrines, showers and hand-washing basins.

(Contracts and projects are ongoing. All achievement figures presented are final or foreseen figures at the end of activities.)

To see more on what the European Commission is doing on Haiti, visit and for humanitarian assistance, visit

Side Bar