Haiti cash-for-work project expands; more than 30,000 now employed

Feb 1, 2010

Global support from donors increases; Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and others provide support

Port-au-Prince ― Following a period of preparation that involved securing equipment and setting up systems of recruitment and payment, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Cash-for-Work initiative in Haiti is expanding rapidly. The number of workers doubled over the weekend to 31,885 and is expected to double by the end of the week.

“Expansion at first was constrained by the need to coordinate with local authorities and ensure that systems were in place for things like payments and for the transparent and accountable management of the finances,” said UNDP Country Director Eric Overvest.

The UNDP Cash-for-Work project. Workers removing rubble from the streets of Martissant, a suburb of Port-au-Prince very near to the epicenter of the earthquake.
(Photo by Adam Rogers/ UNDP)

Another challenge was obtaining the boots, gloves, shovels, pickaxes, wheelbarrows and trucks needed to remove the waste, added Cash-for-Work Programme Manager Abdullah Al-Laham. “At the end of the programme, all this material will be given to the poor and vulnerable to help sustain their livelihoods.”

Al-Laham said UNDP is in the process of partnering with 15 national and international non-governmental organizations to facilitate the expansion of the programme into other areas of the city. These organizations are being selected through a call for proposals and a vetting of qualifications and will be announced before the end of the week.

The programme, co-ordinated by the UNDP as part of its Emergency Relief and Recovery Framework, is working to put 100,000 workers on the street as quickly as possible, ideally doubling that further as conditions and funds allow. The workers are paid 180 gourdes, or roughly US$4.50 at current rates of exchange, for six hours’ labour.

The work includes removing building rubble from the streets, crushing and sorting of reusable material and disposal of debris. The purpose is to restore essential public facilities, such as light rehabilitation and repairs of public infrastructure, access to water and protection of water sources, markets, communal washing areas, community centers, among others. These will help lay the foundations for mid-term recovery and development.

Money for the programme is coming from a wide variety of sources, including, for example, the governments of Italy, Japan, Norway and Spain. In a demonstration of south-south solidarity, the governments of Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Mexico also have contributed to or have expressed interest to the programme. As of today, US$13.2 million have been pledged and US$6.1 million have been received.

“The cash for work programme is bringing immediate results to restore livelihoods and dignity to the people of Haiti,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Kim Bolduc. “But to succeed it has to reach many more people, and this requires sustained international support from partners.”

  • Note to Editors
  • The daily remuneration is 180 gourdes a day for six hours work (minimum wage in Haiti is 200 gourdes for 8 hours work).
  • UNDP is in consultation with the World Food Programme to provide food rations to the workers, and with UNICEF to provide water.
  • Workers are paid on a weekly basis.
  • The CFW programme is being coordinated closely with neighbourhood committees, DINEPA (Direction Nationale de l'eau Potable et de l'assainissement), DPC (Dirección de la Protection Civile) and municipalities, so that the programme is for Haitians and according to the needs and priorities of Haitians, with ownership by the national institutions.

Current Worker Tally as of 1 February


Number of workers

Bel Air




Carrefour Feuilles


Petit Goave


Grand Goave












Contact Information New York: Carolina Azevedo, Tel.: +1 212 906 6127; carolina.azevedo@undp.org

Haiti: Adam Rogers, Tel: +509 782 7894, or +41 79 849 0679; adam.rogers@undp.org

UNDP Around the world