ICG Report: Stabilization and Reconstruction After the Quake (3/31/2010)

  • Posted on: 31 March 2010
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The Haiti Donors' Conference is taking place today, which you can view by clicking here.  In the meantime, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has released a report and recommednations for stabilizing and reconstructing Haiti.  The report makes clear that stability demands a difficult balancing act between meeting immediate humanitarian needs, which will only become more pronounced during the rainy season, and  laying the groundwork for long term recovery.  An accountable government, an informed civil society, and an engaged Diaspora are key.  The executive summary/recommendations are copied below and the complete report is attached.



Haiti’s earthquake produced enormous devastation that threatens political and socio-economic stability and poses huge recovery and reconstruction challenges. Historical institutional and governance weaknesses and deep poverty compound a major humanitarian crisis that could become very difficult to control if the security environment deteriorates further with the approaching rainy and hurricane seasons. The disaster prompted postponement of legislative elections and casts uncertainty over whether presidential elections can be held at year’s end as planned. After mid-May, the legislature will have left office, and the country will be missing critical parts of its institutional anatomy.


The government must reach out now to civil, political and economic society to forge a robust consensus on how democracy can be upheld until elections without sacrificing the incumbent’s ability to take tough and urgent decisions on reconstruction. These need to be based on a Haitian-led long-term strategy supported by all sectors of society and the international community and pay due attention to restoring security and rule of law.


Haiti was barely recovering from the 2008 storms which left 800 dead and caused over $1 billion in damage when the 7.0 earthquake hit on 12 January 2010, killing an estimated 250,000, including a number of senior government and UN officials, injuring another 300,000, and displacing 1.5 million, half of whom fled to other provinces and cities unprepared to receive them. The quake produced urgent reconstruction costs estimated at $11.5 billion, destroyed over 80 per cent of Port-au-Prince and several towns and villages close by and flattened the seats of all three branches of government along with fifteen of the seventeen ministries, 45 per cent of the police stations and a number of courts.


More than two and a half months after the quake struck and as the Haitian government and donors gather in New York on 31 March for a critical reconstruction strategy conference, hundreds of thousands of Haitian citizens continue to experience severe hardship and increasing crime, violence and sexual abuse in precarious, spontaneous settlements in Port-au-Prince. Many others are holding out in the locations they have fled to after the disaster, which, however, are unprepared to guarantee their livelihoods.


Haitians in government, the state, civil and political society, the business community and the diaspora must come together and tackle – with well-coordinated and generous donor support – nothing less than the building of a better, more prosperous and safer country. That can only be done through an integrated, long-term reconstruction strategy based on a very broad political and social consensus that also takes into account a number of pressing political and stabilisation issues. These include building a consensus on what to do about the postponed parliamentary elections, pending constitutional reforms and the forthcoming presidential polls, restoring security and rule of law, especially in the capital, and meeting immediate socio-economic needs, so as to reduce severe hardship among the population. A transparent and accountable multi-donor funding mechanism and an efficient Haitian government-led implementing structure have to be created.


The international community, including the UN Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH), the group of friends and the main donors, need to do everything in their power to support a recovery and reconstruction process that has to be Haitian-owned and Haitian-led. This includes overcoming past aid coordination problems, efficient allocation of technical support and expedited disbursement of funds. Actions by the government, MINUSTAH, the UN system and donors with respect to the emergency response, post-disaster stabilisation and reconstruction are all necessary – and urgent.


Resolve to build Haiti back better should be the outcome of the New York conference, including a joint commitment to reconstruction over at least a decade and a first round of pledges that match the magnitude of the past disaster and of the task ahead. The challenge is that great, but now is the moment to lift Haiti from under the dust and rubble and transform it into a less vulnerable and more equitable nation. The opportunity must not be lost.



Regarding immediate emergency relief

To the Haitian Government:

1. Implement immediately, before the rains come, with the full support of MINUSTAH and other relief forces relocation of the displaced still living in the highest risk camps to safer transitional housing areas.


2. Assess fully the post-disaster situation with the help of the UN-led emergency relief clusters and agree urgently on a coherent plan, including a budget and timelines to transition into a recovery phase, that meet shelter, sanitation, food aid, post-trauma care and quick income generating opportunity needs for the displaced both in quake-affected areas and the outlying cities and departments receiving internally displaced persons (IDPs).


3. Urge the World Food Programme and donors to maximise purchase of Haitian food production to meet emergency needs and to pursue local purchase as a way to expand the country’s agricultural production.


Regarding post-disaster political challenges

To Haiti’s Political Leaders:

4. Commit to a consultative and inclusive process to resolve institutional and legitimacy problems and ensure an enabling climate for reconstruction by:


a) starting urgent consultations between President Préval and political parties represented in parliament or registered for the postponed legislative elections;


b) agreeing on transparent measures to safeguard political stability when the 48th legislature leaves office in May and to prepare for the eventuality that the next president cannot be elected on time at the end of the year; and


c) beginning preparations for inclusive elections afresh with an assessment of their technical post-disaster challenges, a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) agreed upon by the executive after consultation and, hopefully, consensus with political parties and a broad spectrum of political leaders, and a realistic calendar.


Regarding post-disaster stabilisation challenges

To the Haitian Government, Haitian National Police (HNP), MINUSTAH and supporting international actors:

5. Prioritise preventive over forceful measures to control potential social unrest.


6. Speed up efforts to ensure the institutional recovery of the HNP to pre-quake levels, including by:


a) resuming training of police cadets at the HNP school; and


b) speeding up the vetting and training of prison officers.


7. Step up community policing efforts in relief camps, so as to curb sexual and other violence.


8. Locate the UN police (UNPOL) and MINUSTAH together with the HNP immediately in high crime areas to prevent increasing crime.


9. Repair and complete prison infrastructure speedily and establish temporary courts to ensure efficient law enforcement mechanisms are in place for the recapture of escaped gangsters.


10. President Préval should appoint the Chief Justice and other members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ).


Regarding medium- to long-term reconstruction challenges

To the Haitian Government and Donors:

11. Put reconstruction firmly on track by:


a) establishing broad and robust consensus within the government and between it and society on a long-term building-back-better strategy that is Haitian-led, engages all social, economic and political sectors, and promotes a more equitable, prosperous, less vulnerable country through:


i. modernisation;

ii. decentralised political and economic governance;

iii. rural development;

iv. watershed management and promotion of alternative fuels to end charcoal dependence;

v. land-use planning and enforcement of building codes; and

vi. a rural-urban population distribution balance;


b) taking into account both the 2008 and 2010 Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and the 2007 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP); and


c) ensuring that the 31 March donors conference concludes firm agreements on a Haitian government- led implementing structure for the National Recovery and Development Action Plan (PARDN) as well as a transparent and accountable multidonor funding mechanism capable of urgent and timely disbursements.


Regarding MINUSTAH’s role in stabilisation and reconstruction

To the UN Security Council:

12. Maintain the mission’s authorised post-quake strength and prepare to:


a) strengthen fulfilment of MINUSTAH’s mandate by encouraging the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to integrate the various components of the mission as much as possible and to seek to harmonise the work of the UN country team with the implementation of the mission’s mandate;


b) strengthen MINUSTAH’s mandate to focus on saving and protecting lives and averting threats to stability and peace during recovery and reconstruction and task the mission to do contingency planning in the event of any new emergency;


c) ensure that the mandate enables MINUSTAH and UNPOL on behalf of, and in close consultation with, the Haitian National Police to guarantee security, particularly for vulnerable women and children within IDP camps;


d) renew the mission’s mandate in October 2010 for at least two years to optimise planning;


e) synchronise troop rotations with recovery and reconstruction schedules; and


f) determine how best the mission can support reconstruction once the Haitian authorities present a final strategy.

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