The 2010 Haiti Donors’ Conference concluded yesterday. The last such conference was held almost a year ago under very different circumstances. This was very much an international event with Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain actively engaged. Over 130 nations, NGOs, and other organizations participated. Fifty nine pledged 9 billion, of which 5 billion will be for 2010 and 2011 – provided that these pledges actually become contributions which is not always the case. As Phillipe Matieu of Oxfam puts it, “…pledges need to turn into concrete progress on the ground. This cannot be a VIP Pageant of half promises.” Below is a summary of what we know about the way ahead as of April 1st.
The upcoming Haiti Donors Conference is beginning to take shape. According to the Miami Herald, we can expect to hear support for the creation of a 20 member Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) to oversee how and where billons of dollars of aid flowing into Haiti are spent over the next 18 months. The IHRC will establish a Haitian Development Authority (HDA) to plan, sequence, and coordinate projects, all of which will require government approval. Take a look at the National Rebuilding Action Plan, based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, which will also be discussed at the conference. Thank you to Haiti Vox for posting the English version. There is a lot here to think about. Ill post my thoughts in the comments section, please do the same.
While the impact of the earthquake was felt most acutely in Port au Prince, the entire country has been affected. Hundreds of thousands of the displaced have returned to a long neglected countryside and to secondary cities like Cap Haitian. Nate Nickerson, Director of Konbit Sante, provides an update on how Cap Haitian is dealing with the influx and what is being done to meet the health needs of returnees. You can learn more about Konbit Sante's important work, and how you can support them, on their Website and Facebook Page.
Immediately after the earthquake, information came out of Haiti in a trickle. It is now more like a flood. As of February 3, the Government of Haiti (GOH) increased its death toll estimate to over 200,000. 300,000 are reported to have been injured, 250,000 homes destroyed, and 30,000 businesses disrupted. Assessments carried out by MINUSTAH now indicate a 15-20% population increase in the South, Grand Anse, Nippes, and Central Plateau departments due to displacement from Port-au-Prince. Below is a summary of where things stand in terms of emergency response and recovery.
In the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a report on opportunities for effective reconstruction. The report emphasizes he importance of: (1) providing training and budget support for the Haitian government; (2) rapid job creation, not just in Port au Prince, but around the country; (3) building up the capacity and credibility of the Haitian National Police and courts; (4) strengthening disaster preparedness and response; and (5) the importance of gender sensitive recovery activities. The report is attached and copied below.
Haiti is forever changed. At least 150,000 people, equivalent to the population of Tallahassee, have died. At least 600,000, more than the population of Seattle, are without homes. Over 130,000, approximately the population of Syracuse, have left Port au Prince for the countryside. After a disaster of this magnitude, life does not go back to normal. Still, even in the face of great uncertainty, life goes on. Telecommunications are mostly up and running, some banks are opening, more gas stations are functional, markets and factories are re-openening. Neighborhood committees are meeting and people are attending church services. All agree it will take many years to rebuild. The question is how Haiti can recover and be built back better than it was before?
Right now, the priority is saving lives by ensuring access to food, water, and health care. Recovery will take many years and the assistance of the international community will be required in order to do so. But what kind of asssistance will be most effective? The New York Times, in its blog series "Room for Debate", asked a number of individuals connected to Haiti for their thoughts on what kind of aid should be provided and how. They may have very different beliefs, backgrounds, and perspectives but all care for Haiti. Taken together, their feedback is interesting food for thought that should be taken into account now and over the long term.
Immediately after the earthquake, the main source of information was Twitter, which I have a new respect for. Journalists and aid workers are arriving in Haiti and we are gaining a better sense of just how extensive the damage to Port au Prince is. We also know that Jacmel was seriously affected as well. Aid from the United States, other governments, and humanitarian responders both big and small is picking up. This is a summary of the current situation, who is doing what where, and how you can help. Additional updates will be posted as comments.
Haiti faced a number of challenges in 2009 including decreased remittances from the Diaspora as well as a messy transition at the Prime Ministerial level. All things considered though, Haiti enters 2010 stronger than it was at the beginning of 2009. The capacity of ministries to deliver basic services is improving and partnerships have been solidified with the United States, Canada, and a number of Latin American and European governments. Haiti has more investment opportunities than at any other time in the post-embargo era. The next challenge will be the February 2010 legislative elections, already controversial. Improving food security will undoubtedly be an important theme throughout the new year.
Strong arguments can be made that sacking Prime Minister Pierre-Louis was a mistake. Still, she served Haiti well prior to becoming Prime Minister and will no doubt continue to do so. Jean Max Bellerive has since been confirmed as the new Prime Minister. He has stated the increasing foreign investment and reducing poverty will be amongst his highest priorities. He has a much different style than Pierre-Louis, but faces the same challenges. This includes promoting food security thoughout Haiti.