HAITI Donors’ Meeting 3/31: Things to Look For

Posted on March 28, 2010

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The outcome of this meeting should be of little surprise given that the number crunching has already been done.  But the dynamics of the meeting should be fascinating.  President Preval will serve as chair and Ban ki-Moon and Hillary Clinton as co-hosts.  Both Preval and Ban are less than aggressive personalities and Hillary is quite the opposite.  A lot of effort will be put into making it appear that Preval is in the driver’s seat.

Other “headliners” include Bill Clinton, IMF Director – Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and prevaricator in-chief of UN operations in Haiti, Edmond Mulet.

While most of the discussion will concern long-term recovery and reconstruction, let’s see how the issue of relocation of Haitian homeless from Port-au-Prince to the provinces is raised.  Relocation is by far the most serious problem facing Haiti and the aid community.  The attempt to provide adequate shelter for Haitians in homeless camps prior to the Spring rains is an abysmal failure.  Some officials in the aid community have suggested that if Haitians are made to feel too comfortable (read “given adequate shelter”) they may refuse to leave the capital.  Further, relocation to the provinces is very problematic because of an astonishing lack of food, infrastructure, and jobs outside of Port-au-Prince.  Listen closely to see who raises these issues and what the responses are.  The reconstruction effort hinges on getting Haitians out of the capital pronto!

Watch for Edmond Mulet, UN ops chief in Haiti, to open his mouth often during the meeting and to give twice as many press interviews as the rest of the high rollers.  If anyone is going to accidentally reveal the “inside” plan on Haiti it is Mulet.

Stay tuned!

UN seeks funding to rebuild Haiti
    March 28 2010 at 05:33PM  

More than 100 countries gather this week for a major donors conference expected to pledge more than three billion dollars for the long-term reconstruction of Haiti, still reeling from a devastating earthquake.

Wednesday’s “International Donors Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti” will be chaired by Haitian President Rene Preval, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as co-hosts.

“This conference is about securing resources for Haiti’s long-term reconstruction,” said Helen Clark, the administrator for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which is playing a lead role in efforts to put Haiti back on its feet.

“These resources could form the lifeblood of Haiti’s recovery from this devastating earthquake and create the foundation for the long-term recovery and development Haitians deserve,” she added.

Organisers see Wednesday’s parley as crucial to help the devastated Caribbean country “build back better” after the January 12 quake levelled parts of its capital Port-au-Prince, killing at least 220,000 people and leaving 1.3 million homeless.

“We think it will be well attended. Over 100 countries, maybe more, will be represented,” Jordan Ryan, head of UNDP’s crisis prevention and recovery, told reporters.

He said UN member states were expected to pledge new resources to finance the reconstruction process for the next 18 to 24 months.

Ryan pointed out that the Haitian government has put forward a roadmap for reconstruction identifying a range of recovery needs, with an estimated price tag of 3.9 billion dollars.

“There is every hope that this conference will raise resources in excess of three billion dollars,” he added.

The amount would represent a first installment on the estimated 11.5 billion dollars in aid needed for reconstruction over 10 years following an unprecedented disaster that caused nearly eight billion dollars of damage, equivalent to 120 percent of Haiti’s GDP.

Almost 11 weeks after the 7.0-magnitude quake, progress is painfully slow and the Haitian government and international aid groups are racing against time to relocate more than 200,000 people in high-risk camps.

The pledging conference, which had been decided at a donors’ meeting held in Montreal on January 25, will kick off with addresses by Preval, Ban and Hillary Clinton.

Other key participants will include UN special envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton, the former US president, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan, and Edmond Mulet, the interim head of the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France and Spain, all leading donors to Haiti, will also serve as co-chairs.

Several non-governmental organisations and representatives of Haiti’s large diaspora will also take part and offer recommendations.

Since the January 12 quake, many of the more than three million Haitians living abroad have kept in touch with relatives back home despite damaged communications and have also tried to send them money, food and clothes.

The New York Times said in an editorial Sunday that the aid conference augurs the “beginning of the long, slow birth of a new Haiti.”

But while an outpouring of international cash is important, “it is not all Haiti needs,” the Times warned.

“For this to succeed, the commitments made this week will need to be sustained for many years, and the rebuilding will need to clear away more than just rubble.

“It will need to sweep out the old, bad ways of doing things — not only those of the infamously corrupt and hapless government, but also of aid and development agencies, whose nurturing of Haiti has been a manifest failure for more than half a century,” the daily wrote Sunday. – Sapa-AFP