While the World Bank has a mixed record in Haiti, it and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) remain two of the most important multilateral funders of its post earthquake reconstruction. Yesterday, the World Bank announced $255 million in grants for Haiti which will be focused on strengthening education, agriculture, and disaster risk management – all of which are critical for Haiti’s long term development. The World Bank press release follows. More information about its activities in Haiti are available on the World Bank website.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently announced the approval of two grants for Haiti totaling US $90 million. One grant is devoted to the development of an industrial park between Ounaminthe and Cap Haitian while the other is devoted to modernizing Haiti's energy sector. This is worth noting as investment outside of Port au Prince is unfortunately still rare. The IDP's support for the energy sector will allow for upgrading the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam and promotion of solar energy projects.
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming elections, one hopes that promoting agriculture and rehabilitating the environment will be high priorities for the next administration. Countries that import the majority of their food staples, as Haiti does, are vulnerable to price shocks when international food prices increase. Rural development depends in large part upon making agriculture viable again. This will require tackling environmental degradation, improving disaster preparedness, upgrading infrastructure and resolving long simmering land tenure issues. These challenges are difficult but not insurmountable.
Coca Cola, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), and Technoserve announced this morning a $7.5 million, five-year initiative, part of which will be focused on creating livelihood opportuntiies for 25,000 Haitian mango farmers. A new flavor of Odwalla Juice called "Hope Haiti Mango Lime-Aid" has been launched. Each time a bottle is purchased, 100% of the proceeds will go to the Haiti Hope Project. More info on the new Odwalla flavor is available here and a photo from the launch with Bill Clinton and the CEO of Coca is available here. The official press release follows below.
In the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a report on opportunities for effective reconstruction. The report emphasizes he importance of: (1) providing training and budget support for the Haitian government; (2) rapid job creation, not just in Port au Prince, but around the country; (3) building up the capacity and credibility of the Haitian National Police and courts; (4) strengthening disaster preparedness and response; and (5) the importance of gender sensitive recovery activities. The report is attached and copied below.
Haiti was struck today by the largest earthquake in the region since 1770. Information is spotty but we do know the following: The General Hospital, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Palace (left), and many homes have collapsed. What we do not know is how many have been injured and how many have died. Power lines are down. Comms were also down but are slowly improving. The international airport is still intact. We heard from Matt and he is ok. If half of the Twitter reports are true, this has been a major catastrophe. We will post updates in the comments section, please do the same.
Earthspark International, formerly InterIntel, is developing a Jatropha economy in Coteaux, Haiti. Known colloquially as Mestiyen, Jatropha has several unique qualities. It grows where other plants will not, can be used as a “living fence” because it is inedible, benefits crop growth by retaining water and providing shelter from winds, and yields large quantities of plant oil. Can Jatropha be profitable for small farmers in Haiti? Earthspark intends to prove that it can.
Haiti Innovation was founded five years ago by four Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Haiti. We wanted to do this because we felt Haiti had given us more than we were able to give back during our two and a half years of service. This website has been a way for us to repay a debt - to Haitian colleagues, friends, and family who we learned from and have not forgotten. Haitians like to say that their country has teeth - it bites on to you and it doesn't let you go. Haiti has changed, we've changed, and the website has changed. But five years and 527 blogs later, Haiti still hasn't let go.
In late 2006, we were blogging about Haiti’s kidnapping crisis. Now in late 2009, we are blogging about investment opportunities. Much has changed. Just last week, hundreds of potential investors gathered for the largest investment conference ever held in Haiti, organized by the Inter American Development Bank with financial support from the Canadian government. Will trade become more important than aid some day? This depends on the answers to two questions. First, can investors make a return on their investments? Second, will the government allocate new resources in an effective, accountable way that benefits all of Haiti and not just the cities?
On September 11th, winners will be selected for the Pioneers of Prosperity Caribbean Awards 2009. Two Haitian companies are in the running: (1) Alternative Insurance Company, founded in 2001 by Olivier Barrau to provide a range of insurance products aimed at Haitians earning less than $4 a day, and (2) Solutions S.A., founded by Kurt Jean-Charles in 2000 to create customized database solutions and information systems. Both companies demonstrate the potential of Haitian businesses and we wish them the best of luck. More details about the contest are below.