Donors Conference to build back a "new Haiti," a Haiti transformed

31 Mar 2010

New York – Since the 12 January earthquake, UNDP has been playing a key role in the response to the crisis in Haiti. Acknowledging that only Haitians can rebuild Haiti again – and build it back better –, UNDP has been working with the Haitian Government and the international community to put job creation at the centre of all its programmes in the country: jobs to offer new opportunities for economic advancement, to enable Haitians to cover their basic needs and to rehabilitate basic infrastructure. The goal is not just to enable a smoother transition to long-term recovery – to restore livelihoods, government capacities and shelter – but to offer hope to those who survive the crisis.

To boost support for Haiti’s long-term recovery, hundreds of government officials from 136 countries will take part of the International Donors’ Conference at the UN Headquarters in New York on March 31st. Following the humanitarian assistance provided by over 140 donors so far, the Conference Towards a New Future in Haiti will focus on pledges of assistance for the country’s effective recovery and sustainable development.

The people and Government of Haiti have a vision for Haiti’s future and a plan to make it a reality.  They will lead the development of Haiti tomorrow.  The goal of the donor conference is to secure the foundation for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction through pledges from all sources – public, private, non-governmental and multilateral institutions – to meet the $3.8 billion required over the next two years.

In cooperation with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and the United States are co-hosting the Conference. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; Haitian President René Préval and the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, former President Bill Clinton and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark will be among the speakers during the morning sessions. The Conference will be co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain as leading donors to Haiti. The Government of Haiti will set the priorities for support.

“Many tens of thousands temporary jobs have been created and can continue to be created with the help of the international community.” said Helen Clark.  “As the situation in Haiti stabilizes, and becomes more conducive to investment and more economic activity, then we need to be focusing on what will be sustainable employment, supporting micro enterprise, entrepreneurship, strengthening of technical and vocational skills will be very important.”

Jobs and long-term recovery

Eight days after the strongest earthquake in 200 years hit Haiti, UNDP started a cash-for-work programme  to jumpstart the local economy – injecting urgently need cash and helping small businesses and trade resume activity.  Working with the Haitian National Government, local municipalities and civil society organizations, the initiative provides short-term jobs to Haitians to clear rubble and rehabilitate essential social infrastructures, such as street repairs and electricity. The programme empowers affected populations, helping them earn a living and cover for the basic necessities of their families. Currently, 40 per cent of the workers are women.

“Working not only puts food on our tables, it puts hope in our hearts,” said Marialice Pierre, a cash-for-work beneficiary. “We are earning money for our families while being part of the solution that is rebuilding our country.”

Over the past few months, UNDP has been working with the Haitian Government, providing technical advice on preparing for the oncoming hurricane season and operating an aid management platform to track all aid flows to the country. In conjunction with the World Bank, the European Commission and the Inter-American Development Bank UNDP has also been actively engaged in the Government of Haiti’s post-disaster needs assessment that will be presented at the Donor Conference, Wednesday.

UNDP’s long-term plan for building back better in Haiti include bringing its early recovery work to a new, more sustainable and transformative level. Over the next three years, UNDP will do this in a number of ways, including:

• Creating more longer term employment opportunities by boosting small enterprises and through area-based recovery;
• Revitalizing Haiti’s disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction system;
• Re building the capacity of the justice and rule of law sector in affected areas and enhancing its effectiveness in the regions, and
• Strengthening the electoral process, as well as the governance sector at central and local levels - a critical element of the Government’s decentralization process.

“What happened in Haiti is a tragedy,” said Roger Guarda, UNDP’s Senior Country Director. “We all hope that we – the international community – are fast enough and that we make sure that a new Haiti is built.”

Other resources:

Haiti Recovery Update http://www.undp.org/haiti/
Cash-for-work in Haiti: http://www.undp.org/cpr/we_work/haiti_cash_for_work.shtml
UNDP’s work in Crisis Prevention and Recovery: http://www.undp.org/cpr/