United Nations Unite for Haiti, Pledge $10 Billion for Recovery

NEW YORK, New York, April 1, 2010 (ENS) – Pledges of nearly $10 billion in immediate and long-term aid to help Haiti recover from January’s catastropic earthquake were made Wednesday within hours after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a day-long donors’ conference by calling for “a sweeping exercise in nation building on a scale and scope not seen in generations.”

Ban appealed for $11.5 million over the next 10 years to help the Caribbean nation recover and rebuild after the earthquake that claimed more than 200,000 lives, destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince, and left one third of the population in need of aid.

At the donors meeting, from left: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Preval, UN Special Envoy to Haiti former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Photo by Eskinder Debebe courtesy UN)

Haiti’s President Rene Preval, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and UN Special Envoy for Haiti former U.S. President Bill Clinton co-hosted the conference, entitled Towards a New Future in Haiti, which was attended by delegates from more than 130 nations.

The conference was co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain as leading donors to Haiti – already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the disaster.

Ban said reconstruction work must move in tandem with emergency relief. “The rainy season is fast approaching. Some camps for displaced persons are at risk of flooding. Health and sanitation issues are growing more serious.”

“The plight of these people requires immediate action, and we are all painfully aware of the difficult living conditions in the camps, and in particular, reports of sexual violence against women and children,” the secretary-general said.

Generous pledges rolled in from 48 countries, multilateral institutions, and a coalition of nongovernmental organizations. Pledges amount to $5.3 billion U.S. dollars for the next two years and $9.9 billion in total for the next three years and beyond, Ban said.

In Port-au-Prince Haitian children express their thanks. (Photo courtesy Valdosta State U.)

More than $5 billion of the total has been pledged for the next 18 months, well above the $3.9 billion sought for that period.

To handle donations, a multi-donor Haitian Reconstruction Fund will be established under the management of the World Bank.

“Today, the United Nations are united for Haiti,” Ban said in a closing news conference. “Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future. We have made a good start, we need now to deliver.”

Secretary Clinton said that since January 12, the United States has provided more than $930 million in assistance. “The money that we pledged today, more than a billion dollars, will go toward reconstruction and multilateral debt relief.”

She said, “Reconstruction will be Haitian-led, inclusive, accountable, transparent, coordinated, and results-oriented.”

Secretary Clinton expressed “great appreciation” for the efforts of President Preval and the Haitian Government, saying, “As we’ve heard many times today, under the most difficult circumstances, with their ministries in ruin, with people having lost houses, family members, with ministers unable to even know who was left in their offices, the government worked very hard to meet the needs of its people and to begin planning for the future.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Photo by Paulo Filgueiras courtesy UN)

President Preval expressed his thanks on behalf of his nine million countrymen. “The international community has done their part,” he said. “Now it is up to the Haitian people to do theirs.”

At the meeting, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive tabled an action plan for building a new Haiti that focuses on ending the emergency response and moving towards reconstruction.

President of Haiti Rene Preval (Photo by Paulo Filgueiras courtesy UN)

During the first six months, the focus will be on providing urgent humanitarian aid, opening health facilities and schools, and improving prevention and disaster management to prepare the country for the next hurricane cycle, he said.

That period would be followed by an 18-month phase focused on construction and rebuilding programs, rebuilding of transport and communication infrastructure in devastated areas and job creation in the agricultural processing and textile industries.

Secretary Clinton described the plan as “a Haiti with a vibrant private sector, accountable and effective government institutions, and international partners that would be working with Haiti, not separate and apart from Haiti.”

“This plan represents a renewed commitment by the Haitian Government to define needs and priorities, to step up accountability and transparency, and to improve delivery of services,” she said.

The World Bank Group announced that $479 million will be available to support Haiti’s recovery and development through June 2011, including the total cancellation of Haiti’s remaining $39 million debt to the World Bank.

Of the total $250 million is new funding. It includes $151 million in grants, $60 million in investments from the bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation and cancellation of Haiti’s remaining debt.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada at Haiti Donor Conference (Photo courtesy UNDP)

“This is a chance to do things differently,” said World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick. “We can create a better future for Haiti but we need long-term commitment and a new partnership. It’s not just about how much money is raised, it’s about delivering real results on the ground for the Haitian people through good governance and effective cooperation by donors.”

The UN Development Programme has calculated the total value of damage and losses sustained by Haiti at $7 billion. UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister, emphasized the need for Haitian ownership of the recovery process, with international assistance being aligned with the country’s priorities.

Special Envoy and former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Photo by Paulo Filgueiras courtesy UN)

“With the necessary resources, we can assist the government to develop effective social protection to combat extreme poverty,” Clark said. “We can help improve access to education, health services, and clean water and sanitation; and we can help promote food security and nutrition.”

Bill Clinton said his role as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Haiti is to bring donors together and ensure that they meet their commitments, of which only about one third are being met. That role also entails ensuring the maximum involvement of the Haitian diaspora, the international nongovernmental community, global investors and elements of Haitian society that are working to implement their own plans, such as the government, the private sector and civil society.

With the rainy season approaching, the country must move 20,000 to 40,000 people to ensure they are not at risk of drowning, said Special Envoy Clinton. “It is also crucial to build shelter, at the lowest cost possible, where people can retreat during a hurricane. Additionally, sanitation for those in concentrated living conditions is inadequate, leading to diarrhea, dysentery and cholera, which are particularly dangerous for children under five.”

Clinton thanked the President and Prime Minister of Haiti for having invited him to co-chair an interim commission whose main goal is to provide a forum where legitimate stakeholders can be heard as they came together to implement the national action plan.

To ensure that the billions pledged are not misspent, Secretary-General Ban said the pledges will be published online and assistance flows tracked through a web-based system that is being established by the United Nations with the Government of Haiti with an emphasis on measuring performance and results.

The Office of the Special Envoy and the UNDP will be responsible for that system.

“This information will be available to the public and the system was done to improve on past practice and ensure accountability and transparency,” the secretary-general said. “What is again more important is that the pledges should be delivered in time so that when the Government of Haiti needs them, they should be able to use it. That’s a mutual accountability.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.