After cutting a deadly swath across the Caribbean region, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 235 km/h, violently struck south-western Haiti on 4 October causing widespread damage, flooding and displacement. In response to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, two UNDAC Teams were deployed: one to Haiti and one to Jamaica upon the request of the respective Governments.

The team in Jamaica was then re-deployed to respond to the damage caused by the hurricane in the Bahamas. UNDAC has deployed a total of 25 UNDAC members and associates from operational partners to support the local response capacities in their assessment, coordination, and information management undertakings.

undac-haiti-3

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed by Juan Pablo O’farrill UNDAC Team Leader in Haiti. Credit: OCHA/Stefania Trassari

Hurricane Matthew has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. The storm has exasperated existing vulnerabilities and hit the country at a time when the number of cholera cases and people suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition was already increasing. More than 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, of which 750,000 need to be targeted with immediate assistance. The hurricane-force winds caused significant damage to well-built framed homes removing roofs and uprooting trees. The worst-hit departments in terms of rainfall are Grand’Anse, Nippes, the western part of Sud, including the area around Les Cayes, as well as parts of Ouest and Artibonite. The World Food Programme estimates that in some of the most affected regions, up to 100 per cent of the harvest was lost. The situation in remote areas, still suffering from access constraints, remains unknown and numbers of people in need of assistance are expected to rise as the situational awareness increases with ongoing assessments. The UNDAC Team initially comprised of four UNDAC members with the support of three experts from the Americas Support Team (AST) and had to be reinforced as the scale of the crisis became more apparent after initial assessments. Five additional UNDAC members and a European Union Civil Protection Team (EUCPT) associate, two mapping experts from MapAction, two from the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) and one Civil-Military Coordination associate were deployed. The team is working in support of the nationally led coordination effort by the Haitian Civil Protection (DPC) and has established coordination hubs in Les Cayes and Jérémie.

undac-haiti-2

UNDAC Team field assessment in Haiti. Credit: OCHA Stefania Trassari

 

The UNDAC team initially deployed to Jamaica was then re-deployed to the Bahamas, as damage and needs assessment in Jamaica revealed less damage than expected. Hurricane-force winds and strong precipitation had caused flooding of buildings and major roads, severe damages to houses, schools and health facilities and damage to critical infrastructure including electricity, water and communication. A five-person UNDAC Team assisted the Resident Coordinator and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Rapid Needs Assessment Team, in support of the Government of the Bahamas. The team is supported by mapping experts from MapAction. The UNDAC members assessed the three islands that had been designated as priority areas: Andoz, Grand Bahama and New Providence. The UNDAC team in Bahamas finalized its mission on 14 October, presenting the assessment findings jointly with CDEMA to the Government / NEMA.

undac-haiti-1

UNDAC staff Kajsa Nordmark during an assessment in Jeremie, Haiti. Credit: OCHA/Stefania Trassari