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As Rainy Season Begins, U.N. Special Envoy Clinton Asks For More Shelter, Latrines For Haitian Earthquake Survivors

During a phone call on Monday, Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, asked U.N. officials to provide more tents, latrines and hurricane-proof shelter to improve housing and sanitation for Haitian earthquake survivors living in temporary camps, the Associated Press writes. According to Clinton, the needs of many people who survived the earthquake are not being met.

Clinton “also called for strengthening job and agricultural programs. The U.N. says 520,000 people have received emergency shelter but even more still need help,” the AP reports (3/2).

“Floods and mudslides killed at least 13 people in Haiti over the weekend, raising fears about the vulnerability of survivors of the January 12 earthquake, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” Reuters writes. “As the start of the annual rainy season looms in March and the risk of floods and mudslides rises, an international relief operation is racing against time to improve shelter conditions for hundreds of thousands of quake victims who are camped out in the streets and open spaces in the capital and other towns,” according to the news service.

Almost 40 percent of the approximately 1.3 million homeless people have received some kind of shelter material, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is managing efforts to improve shelter. “But many survivors were still sheltering in flimsy, homemade tents and huts, vulnerable to rains and floods,” Reuters reports (Delva, 3/1).

In related news, TIME examines the U.N. Development Program’s cash-for-work program in Haiti. “To its detractors, cash-for-work is glorified street sweeping – a small-scale, feel-good scheme that helps deflect attention from how poorly the U.N. is doing with bigger, more consequential jobs like getting displaced Haitians decent shelter and sanitation facilities. But its backers say the program bears the seeds not only of a more effective rebuilding effort in Haiti, but of a new development strategy that’s less about top-down, welfare-style aid and more about economy-stimulating engagement of the grassroots,” the magazine writes. 

The program, “which is expected to last through the spring, has employed more than 35,000 locals since it began early this month, at a cost of about $175,000 a day. (Workers earn about $4.50 a day, slightly more than Haiti’s minimum wage, UNDP officials say, but not enough to siphon workers from the country’s other vital economic sectors),” TIME writes (Padgett, 3/1).

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