UNDP continues coordination in Haiti, will support elections

16 Aug 2010

Port-au-Prince – During her third visit to Haiti following the devastating 12 January earthquake, UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan met with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and visited an array of UNDP-supported recovery and development programmes in the capital and surrounding regions.

The January earthquake killed almost 300,000 people and left another 1.5 million without shelter. It destroyed all but one major government building and brought Haiti’s economy to a halt. Millions of affected people fled Port-au-Prince for Haiti’s other provinces. Immediately following the earthquake, UNDP begin leading a series of recovery projects that aim to support the Government of Haiti as it struggles to rebuild the country and its institutions while reducing the risks of future catastrophes.

UNDP also took on a coordinating role, a crucial one in the days and weeks following the disaster when humanitarian aid flowed in from around the world.

“Work in the field is being done in an extremely coordinated way,” said Grynspan, after discussing achievements and challenges ahead with the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), made up of every UN agency or programme currently present in Haiti. “Agencies are presenting joint projects and engaged in permanent dialogue in order to collectively face tremendous challenges.”

Grynspan met with a range of leaders, from the Prime Minister and senior officials to mayors and locally-elected leaders. During the meeting with the Prime Minister, Grynspan and Bellerive discussed a wide range of recovery, emergency and development needs, including rubble removal, getting children back to school, rebuilding housing and continuing with government decentralization efforts in order to bring decision-making to the level of every-day people.

“The meeting with the Prime Minister was an excellent opportunity to cover a lot of ground,” Grynspan said. “As the Prime Minister also co-chairs the Interim Commission for Reconstruction, we discussed ways to provide him with all the support he needs in that relevant position.”

Two weeks ago, UNDP hammered out an agreement with the Government to support the upcoming legislative and presidential elections, slated for 28 November. The programme agreement calls for UNDP to coordinate aid money and to support most of the technical challenges of organizing the 28 November national elections, from reviewing the electoral list to providing judicial advice.

Grynspan met with the Mayor of Port-au-Prince to discuss a comprehensive urban plan that will take advantage of UNDP’s successful cash-for-work programme in the capital city that has provided 116,000 Haitians – 40 percent of them women – with short-term jobs since the January earthquake. The programme provides a much-needed injection of cash into the local economy while tackling critical rehabilitation needs like street repairs and rubble removal.

Grynspan also visited UNDP cash-for-work programmes in the cities of Marigot and Cayes-Jacmel. For example, in Marigot, flooding and erosion have decimated the area’s ability to produce food. UNDP’s watershed management project there – in partnership with the World Food Programme and the Canadian non-governmental organization Service Universitaire Canadien Outre-mer (SUCO) – will renovate 15 kilometres of ravines, plant 100,000 trees and implement a soil conservation plan. Over 600 local people have received training and will participate in the work as part of a cash-for-work initiative.

One of the beneficiaries of the project, Emile Therviné, is 60 years old and the father of five children. He said he is proud to be part of this initiative, which not only helps bring jobs and economic recovery back to his city, but also charts a new future for soil conservation.

"We lost everything in the earthquake,” he said. “This money will allow us to pay the tuition of our children or to repair our damaged house after the earthquake.”

For her part, Jarbattre Dalouse, 26, hoped that her participation in the project will benefit her two children.

"I'm here for them,” she said. “I need money to send them back to school, and this job allows me to do it.”

Cayes-Jacmel is a city in south-eastern Haiti famous for its beautiful beaches and a vibrant farmers market. The town is also known for its artists and artisans who produce, among other handicrafts, traditional and elaborate hand-carved miniature boats.

UNDP has initiated a similar programme there, aiming to increase the incomes of residents also improving Haiti’s overall environmental health and resiliency. In partnership with a range of local and international organizations, UNDP has employed roughly 3,000 people to rehabilitate 34 km of ravines and the construction of 27 km of rural roads. Residents are also receiving training in new techniques for improving soil conditions for cultivation and food production.