African countries pledge assistance to Haiti

31 Mar 2010

African countries pledged more than eight million dollars during last week’s International Donors' Conference for Haiti to help the country recover from the devastating earthquake of 12 January.

The pledges made included: USD 1 million from The Gambia; USD 204,000 from Mali;  USD 1 million from Mauritius; USD 5 million from Nigeria; USD 700,000 from South Africa. These came in addition to the contributions made separately through UNDP, by Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or bilaterally by a range of additional countries.

A total of twenty-one countries from Sub-Saharan Africa participated in the conference. Hosted by the United States and the United Nations with support from Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France and Spain, the conference aimed to mobilize international support and secure additional financing to facilitate the country’s long-term recovery.

More than 200,000 people were killed and a million left homeless when a magnitude 7.0 quake struck the poor Caribbean country.

The conference aimed to raise $3.9 billion over the next 18 months for recovery and reconstruction. The Government of Haiti has put forward an Action Plan for National Recovery and Development that will extend beyond that period, including: rebuilding devastating zones; restoring the economy; rehabilitating social infrastructure to ensure access to food, water, nutrition, labour-intensive activities; rebuilding of institutions, including public administration, justice and security.

Contributions to UNDP’s Thematic Trust Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery
With strong ties and historic bonds uniting Africa and Haiti, several African states have contributed, in cash and kind, to Haiti's relief efforts since the days  that followed the January earthquake.

Some of the financial assistance has been channeled through UNDP.  For instance, the Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso made direct contributions to UNDP’s  Thematic Trust Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, which will finance UNDP’s cash-for-work programme.

The latter provides short-term jobs to Haitians to clear rubble and rehabilitate essential social infrastructures and intends to reach more than 400,000 people until December 2010, indirectly benefiting 2 million Haitians.

In January, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Adolphe Muzito, handed a $2.5 million cheque to UNDP through the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kinshasa. He described the contribution as a “an act of solidarity with the people of Haiti”, and as “an expression of gratitude for the international community that has helped our country in similar humanitarian situations caused by multiple wars”.
The Government of Burkina Faso has contributed $200,000 toward the Trust Fund through the UNDP Country Office in Ouagadougou.

Bilateral Assistance

Despite their own financial difficulties and development challenges, many African countries have responded bilaterally to appeals for international aid to Haiti, with pledges, inter alia, from the Governments of Benin, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritius, Rwanda and South Africa. Non-Governmental Associations and private institutions have also offered their help. For instance, Red Cross and Salvation Army South Africa have launched appeals nationwide for $4 million in emergency aid.

In addition, some of these countries and others have offered assistance in kind. Senegal's president said he would offer free land and "repatriation" to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made a similar offer, saying on the sidelines of a recent AU summit in Addis Ababa that her country was ready to accept Haitians who are interested in re settling in Liberia "voluntarily" and in Africa as a whole. Rwanda has offered to send 140 national police guards as peacekeepers to Haiti.

UNDP and UN Staff associations

In Benin, UNDP will be managing a project titled “Africa with Haiti” that intends to support Haitian youths currently attending secondary schools and universities in Benin and elsewhere in Africa, with assistance and support from governments, NGOs, as well as public and private international institutions. Both UNDP and UN personnel have made personal donations, through the UN Staff Association, to support this effort.
In addition, UNDP and UN offices in Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Senegal and Togo have made donations  through their respective staff associations.