Security in Post Quake Haiti Depends Upon Resettlement and Development

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, June 30, 2011.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) recently released a report summarizes the challenges that the Haitian government has faced in rebuilding Port au Prince and facilitating resettlement of the internally displaced.  Chief among these challenges has been the lack of a formal land tenure system. While several communities have developed their own local solutions to land ownership, a strategy from the central government is needed.  ICG notes that this will require political will, creativity, and consensus. To put off resettlement further is to put off a transition to development.  

 

Overview: A year and a half after the Western Hemisphere’s deadliest earthquake devastated Haiti, 650,000 victims still wait for permanent housing in more than 1,000 unstable emergency camps dotting Port-au-Prince. The first storms of the 2011 hurricane season have flooded 30 camps, forcing tent dwellers to flee and killing 28 persons nationally. Michel Martelly, who replaced René Préval as president on 14 May, faces an immediate crisis in the growing frustrations of the victims in the camps and those with near identical unmet basic needs who remain in the urban slums. Forced evictions, some violent, along with the reappearance of criminal gangs in those camps and slums, add to the volatile mix. Adopting, communicating and setting in motion a comprehensive resettlement strategy, with full input from the victims and local communities, is the first critical reconstruction challenge he must meet in order to restore stability. It will also test the capacity for common international action beyond emergency relief after a year of disturbing divisions within the UN country team and among donors over resettlement strategy. Following a gruelling election, Haiti must turn to the priority of national reconstruction: resettling quake victims, removing rubble and rebuilding neighbourhoods. The 2010 disaster killed over 250,000 and forced an estimated 1.5 million into camps, while the absence of a uniform resettlement policy has stymied promised progress on decentralisation, economic renewal and reducing overcrowded urban communities’ vulnerability. Neighbourhoods victimized by decades of anarchic construction and weak to nonexistent land titles and zoning remain highly vulnerable to natural disaster. Evictions – without due process or tenable housing alternatives – have forced massive unplanned returns, including to Port-au-Prince slums where tents and shacks have been set up on or near old residences and new, spontaneous camps created. Close to half the displaced have remained in the original camps, with no clear understanding of the future and rising unhappiness at increased violence. Responding to those vulnerable tent camps is a core reconstruction challenge, with serious implications for peace, stability and security.

 

All political actors need to make housing alternatives safer and more sustainable in Port-au-Prince and adjoining quake-hit areas. That requires a decentralised national reconstruction program such as is enshrined in the government’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development (PARDN) and was endorsed at the March 2010 donors conference. Beyond a planned but not yet built industrial park in Cap Haïtien, however, there are few signs that Haiti is building back better since donors pledged to contribute more than $5.7 billion over eighteen months and $10 billion over ten years to finance recovery. To manage this effort, Haiti and donors negotiated an Interim Haitian Recovery Commission (IHRC) as a hybrid body to speed approval of projects and coordinate efforts. It has enabled donors and government officials to exchange plans, but decisionmaking and donor disbursement have been mostly slow, particularly outside the capital. Many refugees have returned to Port-au-Prince exacerbating problems in the capital’s poor neighbourhoods, where the bulk of those living in tent cities ultimately must resettle. If reconstruction is to right the many imbalances that have made Haiti poor and prone to disasters, violence and conflict, it is paramount that the Martelly government set out a resettlement policy rapidly that engages the victims and is less about closing the camps, more about building stable, less violent communities and not only in the capital. The pilot plan for closing six camps and resettling their residents his administration has put forward is an important first step that deserves support, but the most vulnerable camps should be added to it quickly. To move resettlement forward in a more sustainable fashion, the government and international community must then:

 

(1) design, develop and implement a comprehensive strategy that includes a moratorium on evictions and timebound agreements with camp site owners; addresses livelihoods; promotes housing reconstruction based on improved practices; and integrates rubble removal with return of the displaced, while providing services in both old and new communities, in parallel with clear decisions and policies on land tenure and access;

 

(2) propose legislation to establish a national housing authority and in the interim establish immediately, by decree, a one-stop shop for planning, coordinating and implementing the new policy through a strengthened secretariat of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Territorial Development (CIAT) under the prime minister;

 

(3) enhance security in the neighbourhoods to which the displaced return by providing proximity policing through inclusion of the Haitian National Police (HNP) in resettlement programs, supported by the UN police (UNPOL), while working to deploy community policing as soon as that is feasible;

 

(4) decentralise resettlement to give it and reconstruction a more grassroots approach by strengthening the human, financial and material resources of the municipalities;

 

(5) speed up investment plans in the eight major port cities and surrounding agricultural areas, in order to generate employment and stem the flow of rural migrants to Port-au-Prince;

 

(6) begin immediately planning the IHRC transition, if necessary by extending its mandate for six months beyond the October 2011 sunset date, to avoid gaps and delays in funding and project execution;

 

(7) bridge the gap between IHRC work and the government’s by putting key ministers on the IHRC board and modifying its procedures to stimulate more rapid project approval and broader communication of decisions, particularly to the displaced population;

 

(8) provide at once new donor funds or re-program existing funding to support resettlement of the first six camps and add other camps progressively, particularly those mostvulnerable to flooding; and

 

(9) create mechanisms urgently to make land tenure more secure and improve land registries.

 

The Political Context: The Martelly inauguration ended a long wait for Haitians, who first went to the polls in November 2010 with expectations that a new leader could open the way to accelerated resettlement and recovery, greater economic stability, increased social and political cohesion and less violence. Crisis Group noted at the time that the elections would be only a first step toward putting the country on a firm path to stability and national reconstruction. After an electoral process rife with discord and ongoing grievances,the next step should be to build national political consensus on a program to overcome decades of political, social, economic and geographic divisions. Even the president’s close associates agree that the new administration will have only a very brief honeymoon. His campaign raised high expectations with promises of free primary education for all, jobs for youth, housing for the displaced and agricultural development for farmers. The daunting task is to pursue reconstruction in a country where 75 per cent of the population lives in poverty; over 50 per cent of its food is imported, and food insecurity is increasing in several departments; 55 per cent of the workforce is inactive; and some 650,000 are housed in unstable tent camps. To tackle these challenges, however, he must first get over serious political hurdles. Cohabitating with parliament is the first difficulty, attaining consensus on reconstruction an even greater one. Although he won the 20 March run-off handily with the support of voters tired of the traditional political class, turnout was low. The electoral process was characterized by controversy, widespread technical and operational errors, fear of violence, a boycott by a number of traditional parties and the exclusion from parliamentary or presidential elections or both of fourteen parties, including Fanmi Lavalas, ex-President Aristide’s vehicle. The opposition Inité platform of former President René Préval has over half the seats in the Senate and at least a third of those in the National Assembly. Most other opposition parties within the parliament also need persuading; many are still unhappy with the apparent fraud surrounding the elections.Achieving legislative consensus has been made even more difficult by confusion, frustration and anger over the outcome of proposed constitutional amendments. Instead of enjoying general support as expected, these now are another source of division, because there is disagreement over what version of those amendments was actually approved late at night by the parliament and published in the official gazette.

 

Dispute over the final results of nineteen parliamentarian seats is hindering formation of the opposition bloc in the legislature. The selection of a prime minister and cabinet that balances both political and regional representation would be an asset. However, a confirmation hearing for the prime minister nominee, Daniel-Gérard Rouzier, was delayed for weeks by prolonged behind-the-scenes dealings over cabinet positions, and on 21 June, the lower house voted down Rouzier’s candidacy by 42 votes to 19, with three abstentions. His rejection confirms that the cohabitation between the executive and legislative will be difficult and raises fears that a political impasse will further hamper reconstruction. A second challenge to consensus building is dealing effectively with political grievances so as not to provide opportunities for spoilers to divert attention from the core objective of national reconstruction. A number of political leaders boycotted the elections, due to lack of confidence in the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), while others, who lost in the first round, continue to call for annulment of the results due to widespread irregularities. The exclusion from the parliamentary elections and consequent absence from parliament of Fanmi Lavalas is another serious complication. So too would be any decision by the government to undermine prosecution of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.  If Martelly is to build consensus rapidly, as he desires, he must not become distracted by divisive pursuits, such as the proposal to recreate an army, which is a sore subject due to the old force’s repressive history and could also lead to sharp conflicts with unsympathetic donors. These political pitfalls could well undermine Martelly’s announced intention to pump energy into the sluggish reconstruction process in the first 100 days of his presidency. Mounting social frustration, including deepening misery in camps and slums, could be manipulated easily by spoilers, whose political, economic or criminal interests thrive on instability. In light of the slow recovery response, several analysts have already expressed surprise that Haiti has escaped a social explosion. Broad consultation with civil society, including grassroots organisations on the left and the business elite on the right, and continuing his campaign’s effective communication strategy would mark a significant shift from his predecessor and gain support for his legislative proposals.  To move his ambitious social program forward, Martelly will also have to work at ending chronic inertia in state institutions and strengthening a fledgling economy.  Long before the earthquake killed close to 30 per cent of public servants and destroyed most ministry and other government buildings, institutional weaknesses characterised a barely functioning state. In order to maintain stability, the new administration must increase its legitimacy and recover public authority. Government needs to build more efficient, inclusive and transparent relationships with civil society, including community-based and grassroots organisations, as well as work with donors to strengthen the civil service and state institutions.

 

The Housing and Resettlement Challenge:  As the hurricane season begins, Haiti is experiencing a profound humanitarian crisis involving the plight of the tent camp population. The president’s most pressing challenge is to ensure stability by strengthening resettlement efforts. He confirmed the priority by establishing only days into his presidency a task force to spur action on a comprehensive plan, with international support.  Failure to make housing alternatives safer and more sustainable in Port-au-Prince and adjoining quake-hit areas would prolong hardships for the homeless while protracting the capital’s overcrowding and susceptibility to major disasters and ultimately putting at risk hope for a transformative reconstruction process. There has been little evidence of a holistic plan to build Haiti back better since donors pledged over $10 billion more than a year ago to help chart a new future based on recovery, stability and development. The unstable situation in tent camps and the haphazard departure from them of hundreds of thousands are among the most visible manifestation of continued crisis and an uncertain future. Since the earthquake killed approximately 250,000 and forced an estimated 1.5 million into camps, government policies on resettlement and housing have been mostly lacking. In their absence, rampant evictions – without due process and tenable housing alternatives – are forcing unplanned returns.

 

Deconstructing the Camps: Already prior to the earthquake, well over 50 percent of Haiti’s population was inadequately housed.  Many dwellings were anarchic constructions in spontaneous settlements on steep slopes or in city centre gullies characterised by what Haitians call urbanisation sauvage (wild urbanisation) – rapid and unchecked growth of urban centres that increased vulnerability to major disasters.  Port-au-Prince was the most egregious example. The 2010 earthquake destroyed 105,369 houses and damaged 208,164, many of which had been subdivided into cramped, one-room apartments without water, light or sanitary facilities. Damage and losses in housing infrastructure totalled $1.7 billion, which neither the mostly poor affected population nor the state could afford to rebuild, so strategic donor financial input is essential to the success of any resettlement plan. In addition to helping those in camps, a housing loan program for middle-income families who lost their homes in the quake is also required to speed up rebuilding and energise the economy. In the immediate aftermath, over 1,000 spontaneous camps sprang up in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas. Shelter consisted of tents, tarps, wood, metal sheets, plastic or fabric coverings. Camps varied in size, the majority hosting between 100 and 1,000 households (between 500 and 5,000 individuals) in blocked-off streets, parks and squares, playing fields and some gully areas prone to flooding. Several, such as Jean Marie Vincent, near Cité Soleil; Champs de Mars, facing the presidential palace; and the Pétion-Ville Golf Club, hosted approximately 50,000 persons. Some 2.3 million people moved into camps, including some 1.5 million in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, 200,000 in towns like Léogane, the quake’s epicentre, and 600,000 who fled to not directly affected departments.  The latter group’s return to areas where their families originated raised hopes that the capital’s congestion could be relieved by providing them incentives to stay. The government did not define who should receive assistance or be considered an internally displaced person (IDP). But given the level of pre-quake poverty, the extent of the devastation and the loss of livelihoods, many observers believed a clear-cut IDP definition was not necessary. Anyone in a camp was considered an IDP, though some surveys showed that some were previously homeless or had fled houses in slums with inflated rent, unhealthy conditions and insecurity for the free water and sanitation and possible land and/or housing benefits in the new camps.

 

Lack of precision on camps and IDP populations, however, could easily lead to inaccurate analysis and distortions in the assessment of needs and plans for distribution of assistance. A true census of the camp population would have facilitated the response of the government and international partners. Despite the importance of registration, determining the number of sites and their populations was a lengthy process that left planners and responders without any precision on the most vulnerable groups for eight months, resulting in some gaps in relief efforts. Numbers generally fluctuated between 1.2 and 1.7 million. The registration, which ran from February to October 2010, revealed 1,269 camp sites in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and households (1.3 million individuals).  83 per cent of IDPs were in the capital, where the quality and availability of housing prior to the earthquake was already precarious. The registration disclosed that the majority of those in camps had remained in their communal sections or wards, close to prior residences. It further showed that most camp households were previously tenants; only 30 per cent were homeowners and 11 per cent of these said they could not afford to repair their homes. Nearly half the camp population, particularly tenants, expressed preference to move to a planned camp site; only 36 per cent, largely homeowners, wanted to return to pre-quake residences; 4 per cent wished to stay in their current camp site.  The vast majority of camps were built on makeshift sites that fail to meet international humanitarian standards. Living conditions are harsh due to overcrowding and inadequate sanitation. Escaped prisoners and armed gangs have infiltrated several camps, adding insecurity to the challenges, particularly for women and girls, who are increasingly victims of sexual violence. The HNP and UNPOL have increased patrols, but these have become too predictable to be effective; IDPs want them to enter the camps more systematically, not remain on the perimeter. HNP proximity policing,54 supported by UNPOL, with greater presence and patrolling by both, should address much more the gender-based and sexual violence, including rape, as well as other crimes that followed the displaced from the pre-quake communities to the camps. As soon as possible, more effective community policing and enhanced integrated police and social service response are also needed to ensure that a new wave of sexual violence does not follow camp residents as communities are rebuilt. Part of this process will have to be a concerted effort to target the gangs that have taken residence in the largest camps, so as to prevent them from re-establishing the reign of terror that they imposed three or four years ago.

 

The lack of information and participation of IDPs in discussions about their future is stimulating frustration within the camp population. The construction of sturdier shelters and the repair and construction of permanent houses are far outpaced by increasing evictions, fear of violence and harsh living conditions – factors that have largely driven camp numbers down nearly by half from 1.2 million in July 2010 and have forced families to resettle themselves, often in untenable alternatives. Roughly a quarter of the 1,050 camps still in operation as of March 2011 held some 80 per cent of the remaining approximately 650,000 residents. The remainder were in camps with a commune-based management structure whose adequacy was dependent primarily on the will and capacity of local mayors. The lack of IDP policy and clear communication with the population over resettlement plans has also greatly contributed to random evictions from private as well as public property. Most camps are on private property, and the rights of the displaced to a place to live and of owners to personal and economic use of their property have conflicted almost from the beginning.  An April 2010 presidential decree to extend the state of emergency required property owners to allow the displaced to live on their land through the eighteen-month emergency period, which ends in October 2011. While the decree was widely debated for its potential political impact, this aspect neither was highlighted by the government nor established the basis for negotiating the competing rights of IDPs and owners. The displaced do not always have the right to establish a camp in a given location, but their right not to be forcibly moved hinges in part on the state’s obligation to provide alternative shelter and ultimately adequate housing. IDPs acquire rights to greater protection against forcible removal when no suitable alternative is offered to them. Many in the camps were not displaced by the earthquake but moved to escape poverty and slum conditions, so evoke limited empathy from some citizens who perceive them as more akin to squatters.  But all camp residents must be protected from the beatings and destruction of shelters and other property witnessed during forced camp closures. While some owners have agreed to comply with the decree, others have continued to force IDPs off their land without any process or sound alternative and sometimes with violence.  The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has reported that between mid-June 2010 and early March 2011, some 234,000 individuals were evicted from 247 sites and a further 166,000 were under threat of eviction. The highest incidence of evictions was in Delmas commune, where the mayor was involved in the violent closure of a camp on 25 May 2011. Several hundred IDPs were forced out after police and city hall security guards slashed tents and shelters with knives and machetes. The mayor justified the action by saying criminals had infiltrated the camp, but none were reportedly arrested.  The introduction of state violence into the complex resettlement situation can only increase the instability produced by post-quake displacement.  Camps will more than likely exist well beyond 2011, with consequent increase in hardships and risks for their populations.  However, many NGOs that have managed camps are phasing out operations due to lack of funding, which is affecting the availability of basic services. Humanitarian interventions largely helped control the spread of disease in camps, but cholera has killed more than 5,000 and sickened some 300,000 since October 2010, and the Water and Sanitation cluster now lacks money to cover 94 per cent of basic needs. With the departure of some NGO camp management teams and the onset of the rainy season, humanitarian agencies have already reported some evidence of a worrisome new spike in cholera. Transitional shelter is gradually replacing emergency shelter, but failure to house the earthquake-affected population adequately remains a major impediment to successful, sustainable reconstruction. Long-term and immediate needs must be balanced. The situation in camps as well as the adequacy of plans to return camp dwellers to their neighbourhoods inevitably will be used as a measure of the success or failure not only of the humanitarian response but also of the reconstruction process at large.

 

The IDP Policy Gap: When the earthquake hit, Haiti had no ministerial authority on housing and urban development. For 45 years, the state had provided a minimal number of social housing units but lacked the capacity to manage even these due to financial, political and security constraints. The housing office (Entreprise Publique de Promotion des Logements Sociaux, EPPLS) still is without a comprehensive policy and effective authority to consolidate peace and order by improving urban housing.   Nor does it have ministerial status or the capacity to bring together the core resources to respond to more than one million displaced. In the aftermath of the earthquake, President Préval initially charged the tourism minister, Patrick Delatour, an architect, with coordinating a response on housing and shelter.   He led a three-part commission on rubble removal, camps and physical rebuilding. After the emergency relief operations, Préval created the Presidential Commission on Camp  elocation, whose daily meetings he chaired and which included senior international humanitarian actors from the UN and prominent NGOs. But it had few resources, and while there was some donor support, the absence of an executive arm for managing the issues surrounding urban resettlement undercut government leadership. There were too many structures for dialogue and coordination but none to develop policy and implement agreements. The IHRC was given an external housing adviser but no true Haitian counterpart to approve and implement policies. Although efforts to develop a shelter and resettlement policy began in May 2010, it is still being debated,  because there is no government interlocutor at technical or policy level who can sign off on an option. 

 

The Inter-ministerial Committee for Territorial Development (Comité Interministeriel Pour l’Aménagement du Territoire, CIAT), with ministerial representatives, was created but, like the social affairs ministry responsible for housing, lacks expertise. The government’s unwillingness to adopt specific options has been a major cause of delay. Policies based on early arguments by the international humanitarian community and some government experts were opposed by Préval, whose main concern was that more slums not be created. He wanted better housing, and returns to neighbourhoods in their pre-quake state did not allow significant improvement  This divergence of opinion triggered differences in focus. While Préval concentrated on a project to return a large percentage of IDPs in the Champs de Mars camp to Fort National in order to use it as a model, internationals sought to firm up agreement on prioritising transitional shelters so IDPs could return to their original neighbourhoods.  Worse, Préval was unwilling to commit the land needed for donors to fund sites and services until he was convinced money was on hand for the more elaborate planned community he envisioned.  Corail Cesselesse, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, one of three official camp sites, is a frequently cited example of policy gaps and inadequate government planning and decision-making. After weeks of indecision, and as the hurricane season approached, it was created rapidly in response to flood risks at the Pétion-Ville Golf Club camp with the assistance of IOM, World Vision and Oxfam (GB), among others, in April 2010. It now hosts some 7,500 IDPs from Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, who are extremely vulnerable to such threats as eviction and natural disaster, and efforts are ongoing to transform it into a viable community However, while Corail is seen as one of the better-off camps, with water and other services, including a 24-hour presence of UN troops (MINUSTAH) and police (UNPOL and HNP), rumours of land awards and prospects of jobs at a reportedly planned industrial site have so far not materialized but have lured close to 50,000 persons to the area.  They continue the old pattern of unplanned  development and informal settlements – Canaan, Jérusalem and Ona-Ville – on the perimeters of the official camp. These settlements are not recognised by the state or provided services and are not included in the Corail community that now officially is part of Croix-des-Bouquets. Forced closure, however, would pose a clear potential for conflict and put at risk the initiatives to bring some measure of stability to the Corail community.

 

Resettlement Policy Debate: To respond to the massive earthquake, the international humanitarian community used a cluster structure to manage preparation of relief operations for more than a million IDPs. IOM was given responsibility to lead the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster. NGOs accepted shares of responsibility, even as the numbers of managed camps were far out-stripped by those that appeared overnight on public or private land. Agreement on how to provide relief services was relatively seamless, with impressive efforts by Haitian and international bodies, both public and private. The challenge of transiting from the relief phase and tents to sturdier, safer, more secure housing in Port-au-Prince was harder, particularly with a weakened economy. The CCCM cluster comprises some 150 organisations, including UN agencies, such as UNICEF, the UN Population Fund and UN-Habitat, as well as NGOs such as World Vision, Oxfam and Concern Worldwide. It carries out a wide variety of functions, including coordination, advocacy, reporting, policy formulation, contingency planning and training for agencies involved in camp management. The shelter cluster, also initially headed by IOM, is now generally co-chaired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). Its focus is to shelter IDPs, including by repairing houses and building transitional or incremental but not permanent housing. While individual efforts by donors and humanitarian bodies have supported the out-of-camp re-housing of some 200,000 IDPs, no comprehensive resettlement strategy has been formally approved to facilitate their access to durable outside housing options or rebuild their livelihoods and communities.  In the absence of a comprehensive concept, uncertainty undermines confidence, slows aid and results in piecemeal reconstruction. Actions to support policy definition are underway with international help, but movement from design to implementation has been grindingly slow.  Two strategy documents have been drafted but not formally adopted by the authorities, though government approval of projects implemented by agencies and organisations has been guided by their general principles.  It has never been made clear which of the various ad hoc government or state-led committees put in place after the quake has authority to lead on or approve policy decisions. The “Return and Relocation Strategy” was first drafted in May 2010 by the Inter Cluster Coordination (ICC) to define general guidelines for durable IDP solutions. It triggered a major policy dispute, largely within the UN, between those who emphasized a humanitarian perspective and those who argued that development considerations should control. The humanitarian view, embedded in the experience of IDPs coming out of conflict situations and prescribed in international norms, was that victims deserve a temporary sanctuary as secure as possible with at least basic services.  It was strongly held by those who implemented relief efforts in the camps. Development colleagues argued that fundamental differences apply to resettlement following a natural disaster in a major urban area. In particular, the location of camps is more sensitive, because the differences between camp residents and those who opt to stay in generally just as fragile communities are minimal. The more services given IDPs in the camps, development advocates argued, the more likely that the camps would attract more poor people in a country with a 70 per cent poverty rate and the less likely that these would return to their vulnerable pre-quake communities. The “Return and Relocation Strategy” was finally approved, after one year and thirteen drafts, by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), which includes the clusters.  It was discussed several times but never approved by the IHRC or by the government, though the IHRC has drawn from it to prepare a framework for housing reconstruction and neighbourhood returns.  It also continues to inform individual projects and continuing discussion about what might be done to mount a return and resettlement program for IDPs. The catalyst for the second major policy effort was a project funded by USAID and implemented by The Communities Group International (TCGI)  to provide the IHRC technical expertise and advice. TCGI drafted the “Neighbourhood Return and Housing Reconstruction Framework” in fall 2010 after wide consultation. The third draft is now being revised to reflect the new government’s priorities.  The framework seeks to promote IDP return and a reconstruction process that will enhance building standards, reduce risk in housing and neighbourhoods, improve land-use and offer financing options to households. Aid would be tailored to the needs of affected groups: owners and renters, IDPs and non-displaced, urban and rural.   Both documents prioritise return to previous dwellings that are sound or can be repaired and propose temporary relocation to another camp as a last resort.

 

Towards a Comprehensive Strategy:  Reconstructing Haiti after such an extensive urban disaster is impossible without careful planning and effective  decision-making. The lack of these elements was a weakness for which both national and international stakeholders widely criticised the Préval administration, although international organisations and donors bear at least as great a responsibility for their inability to adopt a single strategy and speak with one voice in presenting it to the Haitian government.  The new government will be expected to improve decision-making and adhere to efficient policies on crucial issues, such as forced evictions, land and rubble removal, as well as to clear criteria on benefits. It will need to better communicate its policies to the population. To resettle IDPs sustainably, it is necessary to declare the process a national priority, link camp closure and community rebuilding to social and economic development and factor all this into the national strategy to prevent instability and violence. There is an increased risk of renewed insecurity in the current context of rampant evictions, inadequate respect of the rights of both the displaced and property owners and the increased suffering of those in camps and slums brought about by the new hurricane season. President Martelly’s inaugural address and follow-up statements identified resettlement as an immediate priority. Other encouraging signals have been his efforts to talk with the affected population about their needs, as well as with the humanitarian and development actors about partnership. The harder task will be to approve and implement a strategy that requires money, land, complex legal arrangements and broad consensus on a common vision.  Maintaining the camps is not a sustainable solution. They present high health and disaster risks, hamper reconstruction and absorb precious financial resources needed for sturdier housing and community rebuilding.  The new president’s decisive move to close six camps  in his first 100 days rightly reflects the urgency that resettlement requires, but policy should be based on the needs of the displaced and the government’s responsibility to protect their rights, not only its political agenda.  Martelly has created a task force to collaborate closely with the IHRC housing expert and a UN team representing six agencies, programs and affiliates. It began on 29 April to draft an action plan for closing the six camps.  Key donor representatives are a part of the process. The camp closure strategy the task force presented to the humanitarian community on 26 May should either fit into a comprehensive approved plan for global resettlement or serve as a model from which such a plan can spring. Sustainable resettlement requires that the plan be communitydriven, address livelihoods as well as house reconstruction, integrate rubble removal, which is blocking reconstruction in some neighbourhoods, and delineate a clear land tenure and access policy, as well as improved construction practices. To the extent possible, this should be based on a neighbourhood approach that moves the focus from camps to communities and encourages a more equitable humanitarian response by addressing the entire affected community. Ideally, much of the work done on the “Return and Relocation Strategy” approved in January 2011 by the HCT and the current IHRC framework will be synthesised and finally, after long delay, approved by the government. The UN team is not confident that six camps can be closed in 100 days, given the process to be followed, which begins with clarifying the preference of IDPs, determining their communities of origin and ensuring that the solutions proposed are sustainable and conducive to generating income for community members. However, there can be at least sufficient signs that action is underway to meet the population’s expectations. The government aims to return 5,239 families from the six camps to sixteen communities, at an estimated cost of $93 million, $10 million of which is needed immediately to resettle four camps in the first phase.  The cost includes compensation for persons in camps as well as in communities and improvements in basic community services, as well as the launch of better urbanisation practices, since congestion leaves little room for development in most communities. Compensation will be based on the status of families (owner or renter) and the habitability of the houses: sound (green); needing repairs (yellow); severely damaged or destroyed (red). Weaknesses in IDP registration cause donors to worry that as grants are made to those leaving camps, others will enter hoping for a pay-off. Therefore, the process will require clear guidance on beneficiaries and eligibility. When all IDPs cannot be settled in a community because it is unsafe or land is environmentally protected or required for different urban purposes, other options, including resettlement nearby or in new communities surrounding the city, should be proposed.  But the plan must seek, to the degree possible, to ensure that pre-quake homeowners, particularly victims, remain owners. It also must identify and obtain the necessary land through eminent domain or other means when new construction is required. The six targeted camps – at Place Boyer, Place St. Pierre, Place Canapé Vert, Sylvio Cator Stadium, Maïs Gaté and the prime minister’s office – occupy public cultural, entertainment or administration venues and are viewed as eyesores in a country seeking to present a better image and lure foreign investors. Successful closure and return could send a positive message to the remaining camps, reducing tension over the lack of visible reconstruction progress and giving the Martelly administration a breather during its first months. However, the process may stimulate further evictions if it is not part of a clearly communicated, time-bound plan that reassures camp site owners. A bad first effort would receive substantial negative media and public attention. While it is important to regain a sense of normality, the camps selected are less than 1 per cent of more than 1,000, not the most vulnerable or volatile or in the most underserved communities, and are above all in Port-au-Prince. Reduction of IDPs’ vulnerability should be a priority for the urgent closing of camps and the sustainable resettlement of their occupants.  The recent deaths in the season’s first major storms – not even hurricane strength – indicate the vulnerability of camp and slum dwellers.  For Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kalin, stated that the humanitarian crisis needed a “development solution” to satisfy the economic and social rights of the population and reduce dependency on humanitarian aid. A sustainable approach must balance vision with immediate needs. The initial task of IDP resettlement must tie in with longer-term goals, such as capital decongestion, disaster preparedness and decentralisation, and address the needs of the entire affected population in both camps and communities.

 

The Martelly team will not be able to move swiftly without national and international support. A persistent criticism on reconstruction is the lack of national consensus around the process.  The absence of a single government entity to coordinate and oversee all resettlement efforts could also hamper implementation. In a similar fashion to his predecessor’s attempts to return a section of the Champ de Mars camp to a rebuilt Fort National neighbourhood as a model, the initial Martelly effort is to use IDP resettlement from the six camps as a catalyst for sustainable rebuilding of communities. In addition, he would seek to develop and agree on a formally approved resettlement plan. Success requires effective communication to build a basic consensus and community buy-in; mobilisation of full donor and IHRC support; and establishment of a one-stop shop for resettlement to strengthen coordination. However, after eighteen months, frustration has grown in the camps.

 

The Way Forward: The task of rebuilding Haiti should be primarily led and owned by its government and people, taking into consideration that the fragile quality of its economy and institutions, as well as the extent of the damage (an estimated $10 billion), requires strong and strategic support from donors. Martelly has an initial plan – as yet basically a pilot effort – but the state does not have the funds to implement it. If resettlement is to be launched immediately and completed in the shortest time, the new government must not only mobilize donor support but also ensure that the money can be rapidly disbursed. The principal donors have been working with the Martelly team on preparation of the plan and seem to have endorsed it. That should include agreement on a budget and a funding schedule that matches operational demands. Coordination with two structures is likewise essential: the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) and the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF). The IHRC, established by presidential decree in April 2010, now serves as a donor coordination mechanism for strengthening government capacity to provide a more rapid and transparent recovery and reconstruction response.  Its main function is to approve all reconstruction projects by a board comprising international representatives of donors who have pledged over $30 million to reconstruction and national representatives of various Haitian sectors, including government, local NGOs and civil society. However, its substantive goals are disturbingly behind schedule.  The HRF accompanies it as a rapid disbursement mechanism that mobilises, coordinates and allocates bilateral and other funding for high-priority projects, programs and budget support, but it does not manage all the financial resources pledged for reconstruction.  Neither the IHRC nor the HRF has reduced to a meaningful degree the practice of individual donors to manage and allocate most funds and channel them through entities other than the Haitian government.  This poses serious coordination difficulties and reduces the opportunity to strengthen government capacity. Martelly intends to assess the IHRC, whose term ends in October, and consider ways to improve it. He further indicated willingness for the World Bank to manage the HRF.  It is also important to determine how best to align donor priorities within the resettlement plan, so as to reduce the fragmentation and proliferation of approaches. Some 60 per cent of the original eighteen-month, near $5.6 billion pledge has yet to be disbursed to recovery projects, and too little funding is being pooled in the HRF. As of 31 March, seventeen donors had signed agreements with the HRF totalling $345 million, of which $312 million has been received.  Two housing and resettlement projects valued at $87.8 million are currently HRF-funded. A high priority needs to be financing implementation of an equity-based national housing resettlement plan that emphasises relocation of those still in IDP camps and not only in Port-au-Prince. Since the IHRC first convened in June 2010, housing and shelter projects totalling $270 million have been approved, but only $211 million has been committed and $141 million has been available.  Increased resources are needed for these activities. While the quake’s destruction hugely impacted housing, producing an estimated $2.3 billion of direct losses and additional costs for these  reasons, it is essential to undertake initiatives to immediately extend the plan beyond these six camps and approve a comprehensive resettlement strategy. It is also intended to launch reconstruction, but the focus is on the capital, with no parallel project beyond it, which could again send a message of rural exclusion and attract more migrants to overcrowded, unsafe slums. The development of strategic urban and land use plans through the planning and cooperation ministry was accelerated under Préval. Among them are an urban development concept for Port-au-Prince and economic development poles in Cap Haïtien, North; Les Cayes, South; Gonaives, Artibonite; and Hinche, Centre. The Martelly team has already met with the ministry’s project management, and late June forums are being organised to begin discussion of urbanization plans for the capital. Participation of women’s groups and civil society, including grassroots and community-based organisations, is expected.  Quick follow-up on plans for rural provinces would be even more encouraging and send a clear message that reconstruction applies countrywide.  Resettlement and community rebuilding efforts will only have a sustainable impact if the pressure on cities, particularly Port-au-Prince, is eased.

 

Giving Resettlement a Home, Building National Consensus:  The overall reconstruction process, including resettlement and housing, has been frequently criticised for insufficient national participation and support. This criticism began with the processes in February and March 2010 to prepare the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and the PARDN, two key documents that included significant private sector input but insufficient participation of civil society and grassroots and community-based organisations.  This oversight led to too little contribution from key groups, such as women, whose vulnerability increased in the camps and whose special needs were inadequately addressed. Though the IHRC has equal numbers of Haitian and international representatives, it has not reached out sufficiently to the population, which largely perceives it as an international body. Most Haitians do not know what reconstruction entails, nor are they systematically informed about decisions and actions. Poor communication has meant a lack of transparency, but the launching of the resettlement plan gives the Martelly administration an opportunity to draw the broader community into the process. The government needs to begin by taking the lead on resettlement and housing. In the absence of a functioning housing authority, it is vital to create a one-stop shop resettlement and housing office for planning and to coordinate national and international actors involved in implementing the new policy. This would not only increase domestic ownership of the process and encourage buy-in but also avoid aid overlaps and inequities and improve public outreach. It could be set up as a strengthened secretariat of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Territorial Development (CIAT) to fill the housing authority gap but would require a clear mandate and resources. Whether it continues under the planning and cooperation ministry, is transferred to the prime minister’s office or is made a new coordinating office, it must be given adequate means. Once a resettlement strategy is approved, donors should quickly partner with the government in funding these measures. Decentralising the process to increase local government’s role would make resettling 650,000 persons and closing more than 1,000 camps less overwhelming. Several humanitarian organisations have found reliable counterparts in mayors and municipal councils, with whom they work to prevent evictions, identify and make available alternate camp sites and resolve land issues. To play their proper role, city halls need more human, financial and material resources, which could be achieved by attaching municipal one-stop shops to them. This would give resettlement a more bottom-up approach, increase participation of affected communities in decision-making and relieve some of the strain of coordination at the centre. It is essential that government embrace civil society and grassroots and community-based organisations, local NGOs and the private sector generally as it resettles IDPs and rebuilds. Municipal authorities are well placed to build a partnership, since they are closer to the communities. Finally, as they should be increasingly engaged also in project implementation, their input should be sought ahead of time on camp closure, community building proposals and other decisions.

 

Addressing the Land Conundrum:  The absence of rapid government decisions on critical policies, programs and projects has been one of the most serious resettlement failures. As discussed above, President Préval mostly refused to make land available, though he had emergency powers and eminent domain authority. Donors contributed to delays by not agreeing on a single set of options. Lack of policy on land and camps also hampered sanitation services, notably latrine construction. Equally important are the complex land tenure issues, particularly in Port-au-Prince. Within the IDP population are many slum-dwellers, renters and squatters, which has complicated and slowed efforts to rebuild.  Clarification on tenure is important for return, so transitional shelters or permanent houses can be built in former neighbourhoods even before the earthquake, titles were tenuous or nonexistent; land tenure and occupancy arrangements were often informal and poorly documented. As a result, much property lacked clearly identified ownership or legal occupancy. The earthquake highlighted and worsened this, as many deaths were not formally registered. Returning Haitians to homes without secure tenure creates the potential for further risks, such as eviction and inflated rent. Resettlement, however, cannot wait for revision of the land registry system. Effective interim policies are needed. A cadastre is important but would not provide immediate answers to the tenure constraints that are slowing reconstruction. In addition, most IDPs do not own land, so risk being excluded if efforts are guided by a cadastre. Before the earthquake, security of tenure was not considered an immediate problem: the system functioned in communities despite deficits. Most residents were not owners, but agreements between occupants and owners were backed by community  understandings. Donors, however, require assurance that when transitional, incremental or permanent houses are built, tenure is secure. Given the land registry’s deficiencies, it is not uncommon that projects are interrupted due to disputed ownership. The prospect of reconstruction has raised high expectations, and in the absence of clear communication about plans, rumours of free land or shelters are rampant. Persons who do not own the land, particularly in the Corail camp area, are reportedly taking advantage, purporting to sell plots and issue title deeds, further confusing an already complex situation.

 

Project implementers have already begun improvising ways to strengthen tenure security by working with local authorities and the communities. The Spanish Red Cross in Léogane, at the quake’s epicentre, designed a program with city hall to verify land ownership and strengthen security before construction of incremental shelters. In community meetings, the mayor gave the Red Cross and the beneficiary a signed document confirming the right to build a shelter and live on the property. In Jacmel and Léogane, the Canadian Red Cross developed an extensive household survey and verification process before starting to build. The aim was to enhance land security of beneficiaries by making tenure flexible but as close to permanent as possible. Such undertakings are time-consuming and slow resettlement but, while mainly local until now, give security to the occupant and lay the foundation for a more orderly land management system.  On a wider scale, IOM has been supporting the government by leading a community enumeration exercise, “Overcoming Land Tenure Barriers” (OLTB), intended to acquire information on residents and their status in neighbourhoods where rebuilding is happening.  It aims to identify a household or household head by mapping the community and taking an inventory of buildings and land, as well as registering the occupants of each structure.141 Since January 2011, it has assessed the status of 2,300 of 4,000 targeted households in Delmas 32, a residential area in Port-au Prince. An additional 5,000 households are to be assessed in Carrefour Feuilles, a congested hillside neighbourhood in the capital known to be violent. The mapping exercise ends in July, to be followed by analysis, and the project will continue if funding is available. The government, supported by donors, must make concerted efforts to empower local authorities, communities and citizens to devise similar measures to strengthen security of tenure through a better management system. This is a task that can be assigned to city halls, where local mechanisms are in place. The IFRC and IOM, as well as some other implementing humanitarian agencies, have been able to reach agreements that skirt the constraints and produce safer housing with more secure tenure.

 

Conclusion: The Haitian authorities and people deserve credit for a degree of success in their response to the massive earthquake. However, the Préval administration did not take certain steps needed to put reconstruction on a promising path. Foremost was its failure to adopt a national resettlement strategy. What is now essential is a rapid sequence that starts with central government decisions, followed by clear resolve to implement actions at the local level in order to generate massive increases in access to socio-economic opportunities. A comprehensive, time-bound sustainable resettlement plan – adopted by government and supported by donors – is needed at once. The primary goal must not be to close camps but to open the way for their residents to return to pre-quake communities, in parallel to new efforts to remedy the high-risk conditions in those communities that exacerbated the quake’s destruction. To do otherwise would be to perpetuate the problem and undermine the notion of building back better. Eighteen months after the earthquake, Haiti’s future and their own remain uncertain to most citizens, in part because they have not been sufficiently included in decisions. Forced evictions from camps have caused further disruption in the lives of the displaced. The new administration should consult widely with civil society, continuing the effective communication strategy that distinguished Martelly’s campaign from his predecessor’s style and building support for the legislative agenda. Much of society has been left out of decision-making for decades, with no stake in planning the country’s future. If the new government is to develop the consensus needed to accelerate reconstruction and ease hardships, particularly for those in camps and slums, national dialogue must extend beyond the political parties and the mostly Port-au-Prince based civil society groups. Additional parts of civil society, particularly peasant groups and others representing the rural and urban poor, need to be encouraged to participate and given the means to do so. The rebuilding process must be Haitian-owned, but the financial and technical help of international partners is essential to more sustainable reconstruction. Supporting investment in housing, infrastructure and economic opportunity across the country is critical to preventing further unmanageable growth in Port-au-Prince. However, donors continue to face difficulties in determining how best to support the rebuilding process. The IHRC has not resolved donor fragmentation and needs to switch focus now to building the ministerial capacity that can enable a successful transition to full national responsibility. Agreeing on a single coherent vision based on government-defined priorities and starting with resettlement would give Haitians greater confidence in their future. Speedy, efficient resettlement requires political will, creativity and a basic consensus on options. Failure would prolong the high susceptibility to major urban disasters that the earthquake tragically compounded.

Camp Closures Contingent on Shelter Alternatives (2/7/2012)

The closure of camps in post-earthquake affected Haiti is picking up tempo as more and more families find alternative accommodation and are helped to return to their communities. Some of the most visible camps in Port-au-Prince have closed, or are on the point of being closed, under a strategy developed by the Government of Haiti and the humanitarian community through its newly created housing authority: L'Unité de Construction de Logements et de Bâtiments Publics (UCLBP. Under this programme, a week from today, the first 150 families, assisted by IOM will leave the overcrowded tent camp in Champ de Mars in the heart of Port-au-Prince. The relocation of all 4,600 families from this symbolic public space in the coming months will be a significant milestone in getting Port-au-Prince back on the road to recovery.
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In close cooperation with the Government of Haiti, humanitarian organizations have developed a number of approaches to camp closures, which are centred on protecting the rights of the displaced. IOM, together with other UN organizations and international NGOs, is delivering solutions to support families leaving flimsy tents and shelters, by identifying families in need of house repair and providing a year’s rental support for those families with no home to rebuild. “The piecemeal efforts by different organizations have become a comprehensive strategy to close the camps, while protecting the basic rights of the displaced,” said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall’Oglio. “But we will not reach a tipping-point in camp closures unless we have the resources to help these people find alternative accommodation. The strategy of relocation is working, now more resources are needed to carry it out,” he added. IOM’s 2012 Migration Initiatives global overview of the organization’s funding requirements for the coming year points to a need for USD 10 million for “facilitating housing solutions for internally displaced households, including voluntary exit of IDPs from camps” in Haiti.
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A rights-based relocation strategy has ensured that these camp closures are conducted according to humanitarian norms and that evictions threatened by landlords are either stayed or prevented. A typical family registered as living in a camp targeted for relocation receives a year’s rental subsidy in advance. This gives families time to get back on their feet and to find work in their old neighbourhoods, while the reconstruction process gets underway. By closing prominent camps and getting the most vulnerable into new homes, there is an immediate improvement in the lives of some of Haiti’s most vulnerable. But some 126,000 families still remain in camps in deteriorating conditions and it will be at least two to five years before the neighbourhood regeneration approach has time to fully rebuild the neighbourhoods of return.
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That is why the focus has been on providing interim solutions to help people out of camps. IOM is both using and advocating for many complementary methods to help families leave camps and find a better interim or permanent housing solution. Since the earthquake, the focus has been on temporary shelter construction, house repair and, in recent months, new home reconstruction, and relocation and rental subsidies. A wide range of approaches is being successfully used to help families leave camps to move back into communities. This is happening as funding for camp management, health, water, sanitation and other services in the camps is drying up and vulnerability has increased. This has led to higher levels of child and women’s protection issues in camps. Reported incidences of transactional sex have increased and reports of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) have also increased substantially. In parallel with the increased prevalence of protection cases, there has been a worrying decrease in funding to track and report, let alone react to protection needs.
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Health and sanitation are also under pressure. Almost all health services have ceased in camps, but the community-based approach to healthcare has not yet been sufficiently developed. The rainy season, which starts in June 2012, will see virtually no camps with access to free health services, while funding for cholera response and mitigation has substantially reduced. Funding for emptying latrines has all but dried up for all camps, increasing risk factors for cholera transmission.

From Displacement Camps to Community (Daily Kos - 1/4/2012)

By Alexis Erkert and Beverly Bell
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As 2012 begins, a growing movement of displaced people and their allies in Haiti is actively claiming the right to housing, which is recognized by both the Haitian constitution and international treaties to which Haiti is signatory. Haitians displaced by the earthquake two years ago face many crises, but perhaps none worse than ongoing homelessness. One of the 520,000 people still living in displacement camps, [i] Dieula Croissey describes conditions where she lives in Cité Soleil: “We’re living in insecurity, our lives are threatened, our daughters are used.” In addition to insecurity and violence, especially against women, people living in camps face deteriorating shelter materials – shredding plastic tarps and tattered tents – hunger, and lack of adequate water or toilets. Despite Haiti’s declining rates of cholera infection,[ii] the dearth of sanitation options leaves real risk for contracting the disease. Meanwhile, reconstruction projects, especially permanent housing projects, have been slow in materializing. According to figures furnished by UN-HABITAT, only 13,000 houses have been repaired and 4,670 permanent homes built for the more than half a million people originally displaced. Though current numbers are hard to come by, approximately 100,000 temporary shelters have also been built.[iii] Tiny (less than 100 square feet for an entire family), with few windows, and usually made of untreated plywood or heavy plastic sheeting, these do not provide a long-term solution for people in need of housing. The first step toward a real solution, according to the housing movement, must be development of a comprehensive national housing policy by the government, with broad input by displaced people themselves. Currently, no such policy exists; instead, homeless people’s fates are in the hands of piecemeal efforts from groups ranging from respectful community churches to profit-motivated businesses. One component of a national policy is that the government begin invoking eminent domain, exercising its right (guaranteed by a Decree on the Recognition of Public Interest in 1921) to claim private property for public use.
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The second urgent need, activists say, is for the government to create public housing on the claimed land. The governmental Public Office for Public Housing Promotion (EPPLS by its French acronym) exists for this purpose, but currently has no budget or authorization to move forward. Housing activists stress that the residences built must be safe; have access to roads; provide water, electricity, and sewage; offer community and recreational spaces; be accessible to people with disabilities; and provide women with equal access. The housing rights movement is also calling on the government to:
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Pass a law guaranteeing the right to housing. While Article 22 of the Haitian Constitution recognizes the right to decent housing, it does not guarantee it;
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Enforce existing rent control legislation. Renters report prices rising up to 17 times higher than pre-earthquake;
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Take proactive measures to sort out land tenure and create a registry of ownership, as a first step toward an urban and rural land redistribution program;
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Define a land use policy that prevents housing speculation and facilitates decentralization from Port-au-Prince by encouraging rebuilding outside the capital;
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Give small grants and credit to help people repair or build their own houses, where the government doesn’t provide public housing. The movement is calling on foreign organizations to do the same;
Tackle gender bias in housing and land ownership, so that women’s names are consistently included in titling and their legally protected right to own and inherit land is enforced; and
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Ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This covenant, recognized by 160 countries, has been signed by the Haitian government but not yet passed into law. Doing so would hold the government responsible for providing housing, education and other human rights accountable to international standards and monitoring.
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While urging systemic and legislative solutions, Haiti’s right-to-housing movement is also constructing transformative paradigms of housing and community. This is especially important because what little housing has been created since the earthquake has largely missed the mark in terms of need. Colette Lespinasse, director of the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees (GARR by its French acronym) says, “What we were seeing in terms of housing plans has come largely from foreigners, with proposals for pre-fabricated houses that responded more to the interests and needs of businessmen. In general, the proposals don’t correspond to Haitian culture or our climate, and also don’t give people a chance to learn techniques themselves that they can use to continue building on their own.”
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In public forums and in interviews, women in camps make a distinction between housing and homes. They point out that while lodging can provide a roof over their heads, what they want is a nurturing space that is free of violence, where the common good is prioritized, and where power dynamics between men and women can shift. In the absence of initiative by the government, some Haitian non-profit and human rights organizations have stepped out of their normal missions to provide different kinds of housing. They have teamed up with local communities to create do-it-yourself solutions. They hope to inspire others, including their government, to envision and to dare to create viable community spaces with local participation. Colette says, “You can’t just denounce what you don’t want. We’re meeting with others, as well as drawing inspiration from housing movements, networks and cooperatives in other countries. We want to propose alternatives that our country’s leaders could use as models.” In one of these alternatives, the peasant support group Institute of Technology and Animation (ITECA) in Gressier, 90 minutes or so west of Port-au-Prince, is building 1,700 permanent homes for residents who lost theirs, in an approximately ten square kilometer area. With funding from Caritas Switzerland, the houses offer water and electricity, almost unheard of in the countryside, and moreover in environmentally low-impact ways - through a rainwater collection system and solar panel on each roof. Each is equipped with an outdoor latrine. They are earthquake and hurricane-resistant and use local building materials, like stones, to the degree possible. Another rare feature is that the home-owners themselves do all of the work that doesn’t require specialized skills. ITECA is also working with the mayor to ensure that each owner will receive proper land and housing titles.
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Chenet Jean-Baptiste, director of ITECA, explains, “We aren’t building houses to meet a need for housing, but rather as a work of community process. For us, housing is an entry point for re-organizing concepts of land ownership and social and economic relationships. Our fundamental mission is to accompany communities and encourage them to become principal agents of change. After all, what’s the point of giving someone a house only for them to die of hunger inside it?” A second initiative is GARR’s dream to create land and housing cooperatives. The vision springs from a 40-year-old experiment in Uruguay, where 25,000 members of housing cooperatives manage their housing and land communally. It is also reminiscent of land reform communities in Brazil and elsewhere. In this model, according to Colette, “the very poor pool their money together and pull their internal resources to resolve their own problems, to find land and care for the land together. Everyone is responsible for the community.” GARR has started two model cooperatives, made up of 42 families on the Haitian-Dominican border. One is a landowners’ cooperative where families with small properties merge their properties to manage together. The second is cooperative housing, on land donated by the government. With assistance from Christian Aid, GARR has constructed 15 out of 40 projected houses on this land. The visionaries hope that the cooperatives will continue to grow and that “villages of life” will evolve, thriving communities with on-site or nearby clinics and schools, and job opportunities in agriculture or small business. In Cap-Rouge, in South-eastern Haiti, the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA) is working together with an organization called Hope for the Development of Cap-Rouge (VEDEK), to repair 500 destroyed homes using local building materials. According to Franck St. Jean, coordinator of PAPDA’s Food Sovereignty Advocacy Program, core principals of the project include strengthening local wisdom, culture, and economy; conserving biodiversity; and empowering community. Though currently funded by European non-profits, PAPDA and VEDEK are ultimately trying to create a model that doesn’t depend on external funding or knowledge.
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Similarly, the Support Group for Rural Development (GADRU) is repairing homes around the towns of Carrefour and Kenscoff in Haiti’s western province. Their objective? To promote community development wherein konbits, or volunteer, collective labor teams, of 10 families each build one another’s homes. GADRU, too, is working with local construction techniques and materials – wood, stone and earth – and designing the homes to withstand natural disasters. As with every other element of reconstruction from the earthquake, displaced people and grassroots organizations are insisting that they must have input in developing solutions. Calling on the Haitian government to provide a comprehensive solution to the housing crisis, they are also paving the way with participative models of what that solution could look like. Reyneld Sanon of the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA) says that people have to be part of planning the reconstruction of “their neighborhoods, of their cities, of their country, and of their dignity.” “People have needs and they have ideas, they have visions for the way that houses can be built,” he said. “Go into a camp, and ask any child to make a drawing that shows what kind of house they want to live in. And you’ll see. You’ll see. Even children have ideas and ideals.”
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[i] This is the most recent figure available. (HAITI Emergency Shelter and Camp Coordination Camp Management Cluster, Displacement Tracking Matrix V2.0 Update, November 30, 2011).
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[ii] When rainy season ended, the number of new cholera cases declined from an average of 500 a day to 300. As of November 18, 2011, 521,195 people have contracted cholera and of those, almost 7,000 have died. (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Humanitarian Bulletin (19 November -19 December 2011), December 19, 2011; Republique d’Haiti Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population, Rapports journaliers du MSPP sur l'évolution du choléra en Haiti, January 3, 2012, http://www.mspp.gouv.ht/...).
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[iii] In August 2011, the Haiti Shelter Cluster reported that 9,4879 temporary shelters had been constructed. (Haiti Shelter Cluster, Shelter Report by Municipality, August 31, 2011).
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Alexis Erkert is the Another Haiti is Possible Coordinator for Other Worlds. She has worked in advocacy and with Haitian social movements since 2008.You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti here.
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Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance and is working on the forthcoming book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Hosting Support in Haiti: An Overlooked Shelter Solution

12/20/2011
USAID/OFDA
By Chuck Setchell
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Background: When disasters or crises strike and homes are lost, people don’t always wait for governments and international humanitarian agencies to lend a hand, but instead often rely on those close to them: family and friends. Perhaps because this so-called stealth shelter doesn’t involve four new walls and a roof and is thus often difficult to see, the shelter that family or friends (as well as neighbors) provide to disaster or crisis survivors is often dismissed by some policy-makers and shelter advisors as inappropriate or not “real” shelter. However, hosting by family and friends, or even by strangers, is socially defined, self-selected, culturally appropriate, and typically provided before humanitarian actors arrive and—importantly—long after they leave.
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USAID/OFDA and other humanitarian agencies have increasingly recognized in recent years the utility and acceptance of hosting as a form of spontaneous sheltering among affected populations. As a result, USAID/OFDA provides various types of basic support to ensure that hosting doesn’t strain relations or host families’ pocketbooks, while also facilitating its role as a durable shelter solution. Such assistance can entail fuel, education, or livelihood assistance, as well as provision of bedding, cooking and eating utensils, water/sanitation, and shelter upgrades to support additional people living with host families. USAID/OFDA provided many such forms of assistance to host communities in Haiti as part of larger post-earthquake shelter and settlements sector activities.
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After the devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake, USAID/OFDA initiated what became its largest-ever shelter and settlements sector program. Eventual spending exceeded $108 million to support a range of humanitarian shelter “solutions.” As of November 15, 2011, USAID/OFDA shelter solutions benefited 62,648 households—or more than 313,000 people—a total equal to approximately one-fifth of the 1.5 million people estimated to have been displaced by the earthquake.
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Included in the total is:
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Transitional shelter (t-shelter) assistance to 28,524 households,
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House repairs benefitting 7,601 households, and
December 2011
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Hosting support to 26,523 households.
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In part due to the mass exodus of over 600,000 people from Port-au-Prince and other disaster-affected areas after the earthquake, as well as to displaced residents’ strong ties to family, friends, and hometowns in outlying areas, USAID/OFDA’s hosting support total was actually 36 percent greater than the objective of 19,550 hosting arrangements established in 2010. Further, an estimated 95 percent of hosting families were either related to, or friends of, the hosted families.
The level of hosting support has been notable, resulting in the provision of humanitarian shelter for thousands of earthquake-affected families. However, what is even more notable is the apparent evolution of 18,492 hosting arrangements, or 70 percent of USAID/OFDA’s hosting total, into permanent housing solutions for those families, as they have decided to stay in hosting arrangements for the foreseeable future. Moreover, many families have stated in post-project interviews that they never want to return to the disaster-affected area. Hosting is thus not only an important humanitarian shelter solution, but also appears in Haiti to be helping address longer-term housing needs at a cost far below housing reconstruction efforts, and long before those efforts even commence.
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Finally, although USAID/OFDA assistance in support of hosting arrangements was located in communities away from Port-au-Prince, final project reports for t-shelter efforts suggest that up to 20 percent of t-shelters constructed by USAID/OFDA grantees in Port-au-Prince were built on land provided by host families. This finding is consistent with experience in other countries that hosting support can occur in both rural and urban settings.

Ten Thousand Displaced Families Receive Transitional Shelter

11/15/2011
International Organization for Migration
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Ten Thousand Displaced Families in Haiti Receive New Transitional Shelters – IOM’s shelter programme has reached the significant landmark of providing accommodation for 10,000 earthquake-affected families made homeless by the January 2010 earthquake. Some forty thousand people have now received better housing through this programme, which is part of the overall strategy of return being pursued by the humanitarian community. “There has been a major effort to help families who lost their homes to leave the tents and makeshift structures behind and find decent and safer places to live on their own,” said Luca Dall'Oglio, IOM Haiti chief of mission. “Reaching this 10,000 landmark was part of a cumulative effort that saw more than 100,000 shelters built in Haiti by the international community, all in the face of multiple challenges such as land tenure and the huge quantity of debris which needed to be removed prior to construction,” he added. Shelter construction by IOM and numerous other international agencies has been complemented by a voluntary return strategy. Starting in badly affected areas like Léogane and Petit Goâve last summer, groups of families have being aided in their return to home communities almost every week. Last week, IOM helped a further 120 families move to shelters in Corail outside the capital Port-au-Prince. In addition to those moved to shelters, tens of thousands of families have received relocation help from IOM and its partners.
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Last Friday saw President Michel Martelly celebrate the return of one of Haiti’s most celebrated public spaces - Place St Pierre in Pétion Ville - to public use in a project funded by USAID and guided by the Haitian government. That project saw IOM assist with the departure of 527 families, helped by a rental assistance or temporary housing programme. Over the next three weeks, a further 673 families will depart from another public park, Place Boyer. This will not only provide almost 5,000 individuals with more dignified housing than a worn tent, but it will allow the residents of the congested city the chance to enjoy a safe public space. The parks are being rehabilitated with trees and grass and will be lit by solar lights, enabling students to return to their long tradition of studying at night time in the parks. The Place St Pierre and Place Boyer relocation forms part of a broader programme of return and rehabilitation known as “16/6” because it targets sixteen devastated neighbourhoods and six prominent camps. The complexity of the ongoing crisis in Haiti where over 500,000 people remain homeless and the pressure of evictions is relentless means there is no one size fits all approach. Working with municipalities across the city, IOM and its partners try to ensure that solutions are found for the most urgent cases and that those pressing for eviction provide time for people to leave campsites in dignity by providing either a temporary shelter, a safer camp or help in renting accommodation. IOM’s shelter programme is funded by the governments of Japan, Canada, Sweden as well as the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The shelters are designed to resist rain and hurricanes and have a life span of at least 3 years and probably much longer. While they do not provide a permanent solution, they buy time for the people to get their lives back on track. In addition to shelter construction, devastated hillside communities in the capital are being reconstructed through rubble removal from residential plots and public roads, land stabilization through retaining walls to reduce landslide risk and erosion, footpaths rehabilitation and drainage canal construction. IOM’s assistance reached both urban and rural areas including remote mountain villages. “We had never received any humanitarian assistance previously. I believe it is because we are so remote”, said Samuel Joseph, a subsistence farmer in Aux-Cadets, who has received IOM shelter.
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The IOM Haiti Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), prepared in support of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) group, estimates the camp population for the entire country at approximately 550,560 at the end of September 2011. For more information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM Haiti, Tel: + 509 37025066; Email: Ldoyle@iom.int

Carter: Few Houses Built for Poor Haitians (AP - 11/7/2011)

By TRENTON DANIEL
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LEOGANE, Haiti -- Haiti hasn't seen many homes built for the poor following a devastating earthquake almost two years ago, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Monday. In a 10-minute interview with The Associated Press, Carter said he noticed little housing reconstruction for struggling Haitians as he drove from the international airport to the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Port-au-Prince to Leogane, a coastal city 18 miles (29 kilometers) west of the capital that was largely flattened in the earthquake because of its proximity to the epicenter. He added that there may be construction in other parts of Haiti but that he hadn't seen it. "We haven't seen very much reconstruction of homes for low-income people," Carter said with his wife Rosalynn seated at his side. "We have seen some the villas, some of the fancy homes along the beachfront being repaired. But there hasn't been much evidence yet of reconstruction of the homes in Port-au-Prince." Rosalynn Carter weighed in with her own observations of the earthquake zone, her voice shaking: "I don't think anybody on earth ought to have to live in situations like this." The Carters came to Haiti as part of a six-day mission to help 500 volunteers from the Atlanta-based Christian charity Habitat for Humanity build 100 homes for families displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. The housing effort aims to house 500 families, and they are due to move in February, after latrines and wells have been installed. Nicole Sully, a 39-year-old wife and mother of five, will be among those to take a new home. The one-room houses are built with cinderblock bases and plywood walls. "It's good for us because where we are now it's not really a good situation," Sully said as volunteers hammered away on two-by-fours on the frame of her home.
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Sully was among the tens of thousands of people to lose her home in the earthquake and sought shelter in flimsy constructions patched together with tin, twine and nails. Community leaders in Leogane deemed her eligible for a free house after they found her to be among the "most vulnerable," said Claudy Jeudy, the national director for Habitat for Humanity. The $6 million housing project, funded mostly by the Inter-American Development Bank, is unique in this sense: The group secured the land, a 34-acre plot of land at the end of a dirt lane, from the mayor of Leogane, who gave it away. Builders have complained since the earthquake that they've been unable to move forward on home construction because it's unclear who owns which parcels of land. Many land titles were lost in the quake. "They came to help us," Leogane Mayor Santos Alexis said in his office at town hall. "We had no choice but to give them the land so they could build the houses." There are still 3,000 people living without proper shelter in Leogane, Alexis said. Nationwide, there are more than 500,000 people living in makeshift camps, down from a peak of 1.3 million just after the quake, according to the International Organization for Migration. Carter, 87, has long been involved in Haiti, whether as president or after he left office. He last visited Haiti in 2009 with his Atlanta-based nonprofit the Carter Center to launch a campaign that sought to eradicate malaria and lymphatic filariasis, a mosquito-borne illness that causes limbs to swell to grotesque proportions. Carter and his wife hope to bring attention to the diseases on this trip. This week, he also meets with Haitian President Michel Martelly and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez. Carter leaves Haiti Saturday.

Haiti Creates Home Loan System (AP - 11/1/20110

By TRENTON DANIEL
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Haiti's struggle to rebuild homes for hundreds of thousands of quake victims may be giving the impoverished nation something it has never had: loans to help people buy them. If efforts by international donors and local agencies succeed, at least a few members of Haiti's small middle class will be able for the first time to get a mortgage. Some of the efforts reach even further, offering micro-mortgages for families who make as little as $150 a month. The hurdles will be significant in a nation where 70 percent are unemployed, many land titles were destroyed in the January 2010 quake and banks have little experience in offering loans to anyone but the country's tiny elite, leaving most of Haiti's 10 million people to rent their housing. Even those who would seem to qualify are finding it a struggle. Radio journalist Hertelou Vellette, who has worked for the same company for 11 years, has waited for more than two months to learn if a state bank will help finance a $52,000 two-bedroom prefabricated house. And that's after he submitted title deeds, a letter of employment, bank statements for the past six months, credit card statements for the most recent three months, water and electricity bills, statements from other income sources, a land survey and a copy of his identity card. He also had to pay a nonrefundable $500 fee for the application. Most Haitians don't have credit cards or a bank account, let alone $500, a sum greater than what most earn in six months.
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What is not lacking is demand. About 500,000 people like Vellette are still without homes of their own following the earthquake. Most are holed up in flimsy tent-like shelters vulnerable to heavy wind and stormy weather. The biggest international effort so far to create a mortgage market is a $47 million package backed by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It would give Haiti's private banks long-term liquidity at low, fixed interest rates so they can finance home repair loans, regular mortgages and micro-mortgages for 10,000 to 15,000 families. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund contributed $3 million to the plan and the World Bank's Haiti Reconstruction Fund approved a grant of $10 million. The U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which works with the private sector on development projects, has pledged $34 million, though the project is still awaiting approval by OPIC's board of directors. "We were particularly attracted by this initiative because it targets the economically active poor," said Gary Edson, CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, in a telephone interview. "We found that this market had not been served." Haitian President Michel Martelly has launched his own housing program. Dubbed Kay Pa'm - Haitian Creole for "my own house" - it aims to provide mortgages to first-time homeowners who belong to Haiti's middle class, the approximately 10 percent of the population who have steady work. "We focused on people who have jobs and can pay their debt," said Jean Philippe Vixamar, board chairman for the state-run National Bank of Credit, which created the project. That still won't include most Haitians. The unemployment rate is estimated at around 70 percent, though many of those have sporadic, low-paying jobs, such as the shoe shiners and street merchants on the broken sidewalks. Most banks aren't interested in such clients, so when most Haitians need credit, they turn to friends and family. But those networks can rarely provide the kind of loans needed to finance a home. The Kay Pa'm program has gotten off to a slow start. It was delayed because the president of the government bank's board was killed at his home in June, a slaying that has gone unsolved. And while it aims to give 12,500 mortgages, so far only about 300 people have expressed interest either by contacting the bank or inquiring online. Only 75 people have actually applied, and the bank has approved just 10 mortgages, Vixamar said. Vixamar said that is partly because many Haitians don't know the program exists, and many of those who do are taking a wait-and-see attitude, perhaps hoping that free homes will be distributed and they will not need to buy one. He said the low approval rate is largely because two-thirds of the applicants didn't have proper land titles. Haiti's land registry hasn't been updated for decades, and many of the records that did exist were lost in the earthquake. Despite the problems, Vellette holds out hope he will finally be able to buy his home, a quiet place with a flower garden for his wife and two children, ages 12 and 2, in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets northwest of Port-au-Prince. He meets the Kay Pa'm requirement of holding a steady job for at least three years, and he has two sisters in New York who can help him meet the monthly loan payment of $100. The home seller, Shelter-IT LLC of West Haven, Conn., is helping him through the application process. The company is one of dozens that arrived in Haiti after the quake to sell homes. Vellette learns in December if his loan is approved. Until then, Vellette and his family will continue living with in-laws in downtown Port-au-Prince. "That's everyone's dream, owning a house," Vellette said. "You're no longer moving around from house to house."

Martelly Launches Housing Plan in Haiti (Miami Herald-10/6/2011)

By Jacqueline Charles
jcharles@miamiherald.com
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PETIONVILLE -- The first morning Alexandra Simin awoke in the concrete house, the young mother of two cried. Then she laughed uncontrollably. “There was a time I thought I would never get out of there,” she said. “All I ever had while in there were sleepless nights.” There was Place St. Pierre, a modestly-clean town square that turned into a makeshift refugee camp after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake forced more than 1 million people to flee their destroyed or damaged homes in search of shelter. Almost two years later, the tents and tarps are slowly disappearing. For weeks, families like Simin’s have quietly moved out of the camp and into permanent homes as part of a housing initiative launched by Haitian President Michel Martelly. With help from the International Organization for Migration, families are getting $500 in rental subsidies. It’s part of a larger program Martelly launched recently to target the town square and five other Port-au-Prince tent cities hoping to find a permanent solution to reconstruction’s most vexing problem: housing. “We have a plan, we have a vision,” said Patrick Rouzier, the presidential adviser spearheading the housing initiative. That vision revolves around 30,000 people living in six camps from 16 Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, where more than a half-million people remain in tents. Dubbed 16/6, the $98 million project is being funded by foreign donors who are hoping its success will become the blueprint for reconstructing the country. The plan calls for relocating residents to new homes in rebuilt neighborhoods, while also providing rental subsidies for permanent housing. “We want to build communities,” Rouzier said. “We may not have solutions for everything, but we are doing concrete projects to implement that vision and we are taking decisions. “We don’t have the means to rebuild a house for everyone. It’s impossible,” he added. For now, Rouzier admits that he doesn’t know which of the various financial and housing models will work in Haiti, a country already saddled with land titling issues, substandard housing and a 70 percent unemployment rate even before the quake. So far, donors are taking notice. “The use of the neighborhood returns approach, instead of mere camp evictions, is the type of humane approach the United States fully supports,” U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said at a recent meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Foreign builders saw Haiti’s earthquake as a opportunity to start with a clean slate and build solidly constructed houses to replace Jerri-built houses, which had dotted the capital. Builders, architects and planners organized charrettes, experimental housing schemes and prefab housing proposals. But little permanent housing has been built because of issues with landownership, government indecision and financing.

The barriers have caused even a housing expo, where 65 model homes are on exhibit, to attract little donor interest.

“There is no one able to tell me how to put water and sanitation in the houses in the compound because there is no money,” said Leslie Voltaire, an urban planner.
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Voltaire said he remains hopeful that the government will use the best designed prototypes for future homes. Martelly’s plan is taking shape just as the law that created the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission is set to expire within days. Critics charge that it has little to show for its work, especially in housing “Land is really a big issue. It cost a huge hesitation on the part of donors to go to permanent construction,” said Priscilla Phelps, housing section leader with the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. “So the money got channeled into temporary solutions.’’ Phelps focus should now be on building a sustainable system that’s affordable, provides credit, promotes quality construction and adheres to strong building codes. “Do we want to inject resources into the market and then work on ways money gets spent, or build a small group of really nice houses for certain people and we still have people in camps? There is just not enough money to replicate some of the things some of the donors are proposing,’’ she said. Jean-Christophe Adrian with UN Habitat in Haiti, said 20 months after the quake it is time for Haiti to start taking permanent housing solutions because the temporary can no longer be justified. “Unless the government says ‘We’re starting reconstruction,’ people don’t know that now it’s going to happen and that temporary solutions are over and we’re going to work on permanent solutions,’’ he said. “There has been a lot of work done, proposal options have been presented but you need a government.’’ Haiti’s failure to adopt a national housing resettlement and reintegration strategy “stands as the most glaring failure of the past year,’’ said Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, which has called on Haitians and donors to make resettlement a humanitarian priority. Meanwhile, frustrated by the camps, some mayors and land owners are turning to evictions. In Petionville, Mayor Claire Lydie Parent opted against evictions, using $10,000 in carnival money to relocate 200 families. Martelly’s initiative builds on her program. Adrian said while he views 16/6 “as the beginning of the answer to the housing crisis,’’ Haiti still must address the issue of rebuilding rentals to accommodate the majority of people in the camps who are poor, unemployed and have no interest in homeownership. They are people like the Gay family, who lost their home in the quake and have been unable to find an affordable and safe place to live. Unlike many camp dwellers, the family of three has a steady income. Aguilem Gay works for the recently privatized state-owned telephone company. But even with his income, and 14 years employment history, he’s been unable to find an affordable place to live. “The situation is not good,” Gay said. “All we’re looking for is hand up.’’

Red Cross Provides Homes for Vulnerable and Disabled (9/30/11)

With support from the American Red Cross, hundreds of vulnerable Haitian families – including many people with disabilities – have moved into new homes in and around this city in Haiti’s mountainous southwest region. Working with its partner Handicap International, the American Red Cross is funding the construction of 800 homes for people affected by last year’s earthquake, including many with disabilities. As of mid September, 670 homes had been pre-assembled at Handicap’s workshop in Petit-Goave, and 621 homes had been completed. In addition, the American Red Cross is paying for the construction of 640 latrines in Petit Goave and Grand Goave. Based on traditional Haitian design, these homes are made of wood with latticework sides that allow for plenty of ventilation. Although the structures are semi-permanent, the design allows residents to upgrade them to make them more permanent shelters with the addition of plastic sheeting and concrete to cover the walls. Desir Dieulitan stands in front of the home in Petit-Goave, Haiti, which was built for him by Handicap International with support from the American Red Cross. Desir Dieulitan has already made improvements to his home, as a row of plants and large seashells line the porch at the front of the green-roofed house. Pieces of flowing white fabric cover the doors and windows, and large sheets of green plastic cover some of the walls. He has added electricity and built shelves in the corners of the one-room house, which is simple and tidy. At the corner of the lot, he has access to a new latrine that is raised well above the ground because the land is prone to flooding. Dieulitan has experienced more than his share of tragedy in life. Nine years ago he broke his left leg in a bus accident. A first surgery on the leg was unsuccessful, so the doctors broke his leg a second time and operated again. This surgery was also unsuccessful, and meant one leg was shorter than the other. He walked with a pronounced limp, and offers to show a long, deep scar on his thigh. He once worked as a mason, but has not been able to do so since the accident. Handicap’s program is available to vulnerable populations as well as the disabled – such as people who are paralyzed, had amputations, have visual challenges or hearing impairments. Despite their challenges, the Haitians who receive these homes are expected to collect water, sand and rocks to aid in their construction. “We want the participation of beneficiaries, but also people from the communities,” says Carole Dehu, field coordinator for Handicap in Petit-Goave.
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The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Haiti Seeks to Turn Page at Global Meeting (9/22/2011)

Wall Street Journal
By INGRID ARNESEN
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—President Michel Martelly will address this year's U.N. General Assembly on Friday with promises of a fresh start for the earthquake-devastated nation. It will be a tough message to sell. Mr. Martelly, a 50-year-old former pop star turned president, said in an interview that decades of cooperation between the international community and Haiti has led to little progress, but that things this time could be different. "I'm going to tell them that this time there is someone with a really big heart who wants to change things," he said. For much of the past year, the country's politics have paralyzed the recovery from last year's earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 and leveled parts of the capital. Mr. Martelly and his team work out of a prefabricated building in the parking lot of the collapsed presidential palace. Months of electoral campaigning late last year led to two chaotic presidential elections and then months of a transition between governments. Mr. Martelly was finally installed last May, but has been unable to form a government because his attempts to name a prime minister have been repeatedly blocked by parliament. Twenty months after the earthquake, there is little visible improvement in Haiti's shattered capital. Only half of the estimated 9 million cubic meters have been removed, and hundreds of fractured office buildings and dwellings are a constant danger to claim more lives. Some 600,000 refugees still live in sprawling and unhygienic tent cities.
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An ongoing cholera outbreak has claimed 6,266 lives, hospitalized nearly half a million and threatens to grow at any moment with the daily flash storms of the hurricane season, according to the office of the U.N.'s Resident Coordinator. Haiti's parliament, which turned down Mr. Martelly's first two nominees for prime minister, is dominated by lawmakers from rival parties who lost to Mr. Martelly in last year's elections. The country needs a stable government to convince donors to disburse more reconstruction money. At stake are billions of dollars pledged by international donors. Only 38% of $4.6 billions earmarked for 2010 and 2011 have been disbursed, according to the U.N.'s Office of the Special Envoy. Despite the woes, there are signs of hope. Haiti's lower house, after rejecting Mr. Martelly's first two candidates for prime minister, last Friday finally approved Dr. Garry Conille, a 45 year-old gynecologist and career U.N. diplomat. Haiti's senate has yet to act, but officials are hopeful that the approval is coming. "I am confident it will happen while I'm in New York," Mr. Martelly said, adding that the political tug-of-war has helped him find common cause with his rivals that could help Haiti in the long-run. "It has enabled us to iron out differences .... I was naive at first. I've politically matured." Nigel Fisher, the head U.N. coordinator for Haiti's reconstruction, said progress has been very slow but points out that donors have not given up. "You're not seeing a backing of donors, you're not seeing that lack of interest." Mr. Fisher said the big problem for Haiti lies in the enduring humanitarian crisis compounding the country's long term recovery. "We're caught in this bind that we all agree the solutions are long term but we have immediate needs that are falling through the cracks. Let's not forget those that need help now." One of Mr. Martelly's key initiatives is to rebuild 16 neighborhoods at a cost of $98 million. But so far, only $30 million has been promised by the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, a partnership between Haiti and international donors.
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There are also growing tensions over some 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers that has been in Haiti since 2004. Mr. Martelly wants to rebuild Haiti's army, and eventually see all peacekeepers leave. Haiti has not had an army since it was disbanded in 2005 by the firebrand former president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. The U.N. has said it will reduce the size of the force but extend its mandate by a year. Many Haitians have grown wary of the peacekeepers. Experts believe Nepalese troops may have inadvertently brought the cholera epidemic to Haiti, its first such epidemic in decades. Five Uruguayan sailors accused of sexually abusing a young Haitian man were jailed in Uruguay this week while an investigation proceeds. The president has formed an economic advisory council comprised of 32 international experts, including eight former heads of state and five CEOs, to attract investment and sell Haiti overseas. It is co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The council held its first meeting on Wednesday in New York, where Mr. Martelly pledged to create a more business-friendly Haiti. He said his government would submit bills to cut the time it takes to open a business or get a construction permit. "The opportunity to bring in foreign direct investment into Haiti has never been better," said Denis O'Brien, CEO of Digicel, a big cell phone company in the Caribbean.

Haiti Seeks Greater Local Role in Rebuilding (AFP - 9/23/2011)

Haitians feel "left out" of international efforts to rebuild their quake-shattered country and should have a greater role, President Michel Martelly said in remarks released on Thursday, AFP reported. "The bottom line is, Haitians want to be included in improving and rebuilding the country, and so far, I hear quite consistently they are feeling left out," Martelly said in remarks prepared for delivery in New York. "We are asking that all countries, multilateral institutions and other bodies work to incorporate Haitians into the implementation of their projects and programs." The speech was delivered by Martelly's aide and would-be foreign minister, Daniel Supplice, after the president abruptly canceled his scheduled appearance at Columbia University in New York. Officials gave no immediate explanation for the change.
Martelly, who was inaugurated in May, has so far failed to form a government after lawmakers rejected his initial two appointees for prime minister, but Supplice is a probable candidate for the foreign minister post. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has struggled to recover since the January 2010 earthquake that devastated its capital, killed more than 225,000 people and left one in seven homeless. The pace of reconstruction has been painfully slow for hundreds of thousands of traumatized survivors who lost everything and are forced to live in squalid tent cities around the still-ruined capital. In recent months Haiti has seen protests against United Nations peacekeepers after scandals involving the alleged rape of a local youth by Uruguayan soldiers and a cholera outbreak that some have blamed on peacekeepers from Nepal.
Martelly, a popular singer who became president after a hotly disputed election, was in New York this week to make his debut at the UN General Assembly.

Thousands Evicted from Camps (Reuters - 9/14/2011)

By Anastasia Moloney
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Tens of thousands of Haitian earthquake survivors have been forced to leave camps sprawled across the capital Port-au-Prince, and a growing number are at risk of eviction, the United Nations said this week. Around 1.5 million Haitians made homeless by last year's massive quake sought shelter in makeshift tent cities set up on public and private land, of whom nearly 600,000 are still living in camps. So far nearly 70,000 people have been thrown out of these settlements, and the number of camps where people face the threat of eviction has increased by 400 percent in a year, from 87 in July 2010 to 348 this July, the United Nations says."The humanitarian community in Haiti reiterates its opposition to forced evictions, which only exacerbate existing vulnerabilities of camp populations," the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, Nigel Fisher, said on Tuesday. He urged the Haitian authorities to protect the rights of displaced people living in camps, and said camps should only be closed if the government can guarantee people safe housing elsewhere. Only a small fraction of displaced families have been resettled in new homes. The aid community hopes to set up a platform linking relevant ministries, local authorities, the police, the private sector and humanitarian groups, Fisher said. "The proposed structure would allow for effective planning for progressive camp closures, while identifying alternative housing solutions in both urban and rural settings," he added. Haiti's recovery from the earthquake has been hampered by political infighting among Haitian lawmakers, weak coordination among international aid groups, and billions of dollars in donor pledges that have yet to be
disbursed.

Haitians Living in Tents Should Receive Priority (7/23/2011)

Miami Herald
By Jacqueline Charles
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Haitian President Michel Martelly is calling on the panel charged with Haiti’s post-quake recovery and reconstruction to give priority to relocating hundreds of thousands of people still living in makeshift tents 18 months after the massive disaster. Martelly made the plea Friday as part of a series of concrete actions he would like for the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to take in coming months as it approves hundreds of millions of dollars in donor projects. “All the efforts and available resources will be needed for this purpose,’’ said Martelly, who is seeking a year’s extension of the panel’s mandate with Haitian lawmakers. Friday marked the first time that Martelly publicly voiced support for the commission, a positive step, said representatives of the international community who met in Port-au-Prince to discuss the $3.2 billion in projects that have already been approved by the commission, and address criticism over the slow pace of reconstruction. “My administration intends to continue this successful collaboration, focusing on clear priorities, accelerating the pace of project implementation and increasing, dramatically the amount of available resources, especially disbursements, to better meet the legitimate expectations of the Haitian people,’’ Martelly said. Martelly also used the occasion to address recent controversies over the forced evictions of tent city residents, saying that “my government is against forced evictions.’’ Friday’s meeting took place against the backdrop of Haitian and foreign frustration as the president and parliament remain in an ongoing political gridlock over his choice for prime minister.
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Several sources have told The Miami Herald that his second pick, Bernard Gousse, is expected to soon withdraw his nomination. Gousse, a respected lawyer, is a former minister of justice and public security. Soon after Martelly tapped Gousse, a coalition of 16 lawmakers rallied to reject him citing his controversial tenure during the interim government between 2004 and 2006. Gousse did not respond to requests for comment from The Miami Herald. Thierry Mayard-Paul, chief of cabinet for Martelly whose name has also been circulated as a possible third choice, told The Herald, “We have no comment on that stuff’’ before abruptly hanging up. Top foreign diplomats used their visit to Haiti this week to meet privately with both the president and leaders of parliament, urging both sides to work together to form a government and break the stalemate. As Martelly was outlining his vision in Port-au-Prince, hundreds of miles away in Miami, several Haitian mayors also discussed Haiti’s ongoing challenges at a two-day conference. “Everything right now is blocked. People are afraid to invest,’’ said Les Cayes Mayor Pierre Yvon Chery.

Haiti's Recovery Stalled (International Crisis Group - 7/21/11)

BY MARK SCHNEIDER
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More than two months after his inauguration, Haitian President Michel Martelly still does not have a new government in place. The Parliament rejected his first candidate for prime minister and appears likely to do the same with his second nominee. What he does have are 635,000 earthquake victims living in tents and a terrifying cholera epidemic. Haiti also has promises of more than $5.6 billion for recovery, less than half of which has turned up. Even fewer funds have gone toward new schools, clinics, farm-to-market roads, city streets, water and sanitation systems, police stations or government buildings after the worst quake in history flattened Port-au-Prince. Where does Haiti go from here? It just had the horrendous ranking of the fifth-worst failed state out of 179 measured. Clearly, there is not much lower that the country of nine million can fall. The question is whether it will begin to show any signs of “building back better,” during what will be at least a decade-long recovery. Before the quake, 70 percent lived in poverty; basic services of education, sanitation and health for most Haitian families were of low quality or did not exist. The small elite centered in Port-au-Prince dominated economic and political power. While some progress had been achieved on issues such as police reform, there was a long way to go. Equally important, pillars of the judiciary and corrections were stagnant. International leaders, from Bill Clinton to Ban Ki-moon, have pledged a better future for Haiti. A host of Haitian political leaders have promised the same. A first step is for Haiti’s elected leaders to end their zero-sum game political culture — at least until reconstruction is well under way — and pursue a consensus national reconstruction policy. Yet there is all too little to show that Haiti has truly embarked on a transformation that breaks the pattern of centralizing resources, people, governance and investment in an overcrowded Port-au-Prince that has shown its vulnerability not only to earthquakes but to hurricanes as well. The first storms of this year’s system forced the evacuation of 30 of the earthquake emergency camps and resulted in 28 deaths across the country. Those storms demonstrated the urgency needed from President Martelly, the U.N. peacekeeping mission, Canada, the United States and other major donors to reverse the most significant reconstruction policy failure of the last year and a half — the failure to adopt a nationwide resettlement and housing strategy. No one expected all of Haiti’s quake refugees to be in decent housing by now. However, neither did anyone expect there to still be 1,000 camps with too little security, the constant threat of forced evictions and the frustration of simply not knowing what the future holds. A fully vetted and implemented resettlement policy is long overdue. Of the 650,000 people who have left the camps, most did so on their own. Only about 73,000 temporary shelters have been built by donors, and another 4,900 houses have been repaired, but in many cases, the neighborhoods people are returning to are dilapidated and dangerous. The very presence of the U.N. peacekeeping force has been critical to stability in the quake aftermath and its presence — coupled with a more robust U.N. police force — is still required. However, it should also insist on building clean, competent and community-based justice institutions — from beat cops to courtroom judges — and reject any attempts to turn law enforcement into a partisan tool. What is needed now is a policy that allows families to move back into their old neighborhoods if they are deemed safe and help them rebuild if they are not, and supports those who fled the city where they are. Since Haitians desperately want jobs, they should be enticed to stay in the departments where they have fled for sanctuary by following through on the reconstruction plan presented to donors last March and investing in the eight major port cities and surrounding agricultural areas. Linking jobs, services and housing is the best way to turn the rhetoric of decentralization into reality. President Martelly is still negotiating for his prime minister and for his cabinet. He should also consider jump-starting the recovery process by sending legislation to the Parliament immediately to establish a national housing authority. In the interim he should decree a one-stop housing and resettlement shop at an inter-ministerial level to adopt and act on a national housing and resettlement policy. Haiti’s challenges seem monumental but its greatest asset may be the patience and determination of the Haitian people to improve the future for their children. The international community has to avoid looking for an early exit if the hope of the Haitian people has any chance of being realized.

Haiti's Displaced: Interview with International Crisis Group

7/1/2011
Huffington Post
By Kimberly Abbot
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kimberly-abbott/haitis-displaced-audio_b_8...
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In Haiti, more than 650,000 earthquake victims are still waiting for permanent housing after a year and a half in emergency camps, where they are now vulnerable to criminal violence and the summer storm season. The resettlement crisis is task number one for Haiti's new president, Michel Martelly. Conditions in the camps are worsening. Cholera outbreaks are a daily threat. Dozens have already died in summer floods, trapped in flimsy tents that were not built to withstand the unforgiving storms. Insecurity and impunity have created an atmosphere primed for crime and banditry, and have contributed to an alarming increase in sexual violence against women. Even when complaints are filed, police rarely follow through with investigations, in part because of a lack of resources. More UN and Haitian National Police are urgently needed to patrol the camps in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince. Martelly also faces the additional challenge of a divisive political class that seems unaware that this is Haiti's moment of truth. Rather than rallying around the cause of reconstruction, much of Haiti's political leadership has engaged in unproductive partisan maneuvering. This was seen mere months after Martelly took office, when parliament rejected the president's pick for prime minister. Resettling the remaining earthquake refugees will mean reconstruction on a massive scale, but rebuilding has been stymied, despite billions in aid. Donors, the international community and the government of Haiti have failed to agree on a comprehensive resettlement strategy, and the government has dithered on allocating land for construction. The task is complicated by the need to build more durable communities, able to withstand the next natural disaster. Unless Haiti's government prioritizes reconstruction and resettlement, conditions in the camps are likely to continue deteriorating--but that doesn't mean that Haiti is on its own. Once Martelly's administration adopts a workable, national resettlement policy, the international community should commit to funding a substantial portion of it, and deliver. I spoke with Mark Schneider, Crisis Group's Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America, about the challenges facing President Martelly. Click below for the audio of our conversation. For more on Haiti, check out the new report from the International Crisis Group, Post-quake Haiti: Security Depends on Resettlement and Development.

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