An unconfirmed number of rural houses were damaged, and farmers were living outside their homes in tents. Many whose homes were not affected were sleeping outside, fearing another devastating earthquake as tremors continued to rock the Caribbean island state.
The UN assessment said irrigation channels continued to be blocked by debris and landslides, although water intakes have not been damaged, and primary cement channels needed only minor repairs. Water supply remained a major challenge for livestock, humans, and crops, putting the next season’s harvest at risk.
The UN had been widely criticised for lacking a coordinated response to the disaster. Last week, it set up a joint operations centre, allowing efforts by its peacekeepers and humanitarian agencies, US and Canadian soldiers, and over 500 non-government organisations in Haiti to integrate efforts. The move is expected to relieve bottlenecks and increase dramatically the supply of aid and medical assistance in affected areas.
Efforts to start rebuilding the shattered nation and reviving economic activity are also underway, the UN said. Five thousand Haitians were starting to clear rubble, and efforts were underway to recycle some of this into building materials. Construction will be a major factor in reviving the economy, and teams are receiving builder training.
Meanwhile, a major health, sanitation and water assessment had been launched. The UN said 20 teams equipped with sophisticated data-capturing devices, supplied by the US Centre for Disease control, would spread through all affected areas and report back this week. The death toll from the quake, which measured 7,1 on the Richter scale, now stands at over 150 000.
Unidentified bodies are still being piled onto tipper trucks with front-end loaders, and driven to a quarry 10km from the city, where they are dumped into open pits.
The search for survivors has officially been called off, and earthmovers and diggers wearing surgical masks are clearing corpses from the rubble with shovels, and laying them in sheets. Those identified are pulled by cart to cemeteries, where skeletons are pulled out of covered graves to make room.
The World Health Organisation has downplayed fears that rotting corpses in the rubble could contaminate drinking water, and spread cholera and hepatitis. – Stephan Hofstätter
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