Haitian Prime Minister and NGO representatives, including Sean Penn, outline a new roadmap for Haiti
New York - Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and more than 50 national and international non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives—including actor, director and activist Sean Penn—defined today a new roadmap to better coordinate the transition from Haiti’s humanitarian to a long-term development phase, with increased accountability and transparency.
The meeting organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) took place during the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to outline the Government’s next steps in coordinating humanitarian, development and charity-based organisations in the country.
“We don’t want to continue being known as an ‘NGO-Nation’,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said. “This is why this roadmap of engagement comes at a crucial moment: we need better channeled support—led by the Government of Haiti.”
There are more than 500 national and international NGOs working in Haiti, according to official figures. However, the Government acknowledges that the number of NGOs might surpass 1,000, more than two years after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and displaced 1.5 million people in January 2010.
Moreover, many of the large programmes funded by UN agencies, funds and programmes in Haiti are implemented by NGOs: More than 13 percent of the more than US$550 million spent in 2011 went to Haitian NGOs while nine percent went to international NGOs.
The response operation in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake also highlighted some of the frequent challenges faced by the humanitarian and the development community, as has been the case in other emergency settings.
“Experience has shown that effective coordination among the multiple actors is essential to avoid posing a heavy burden on the already over-stretched national institutions and to ensure that certain efforts are prioritized,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan. “To avoid fragmentation on the ground, the international community needs to strongly back national institutions and their coordination structures.”
NGOs represented at the General Assembly event hailed the new roadmap, especially the Government’s commitment to organize a national NGO Forum, establish a consultation process on a new NGO legislation and create representation modalities for NGOs to boost the currently existing aid-coordination mechanisms.
Sean Penn, founder of NGO J/P HRO also welcomed the new plan and stressed the importance of NGOs’ work in Haiti.
Penn recognized the multiple challenges that Haitians face—even prior to the devastating earthquake:
“A major priority for all of us—especially our organization—is to remove the more than 360,000 people still living in tents, but land tenure has been a major obstacle to make this happen,” he said.
Sean Penn also emphasized the important advances that have been made, especially when looking back at the immediate earthquake aftermath when he visited the country to offer support. The actor and humanitarian called on “skeptical international media” to help acknowledge some important accomplishments of the current government and its partners, helping break through a more constructive future for Haitians.
UNDP in Haiti
UNDP works in Haiti with more than 30 national and international NGOs—prior to the earthquake, in its immediate aftermath and now in long-term development phase. For example, UNDP and the Government of Haiti partner with dozens of NGOs in its project to encourage Haitians to leave the camps and return to their original neighborhoods (Project 16/6). As part of this initiative, UNDP boosts Haitian women’s empowerment by encouraging women‐led micro business, offering training and financial support to around 800 low-income women. This encompasses eight job creation initiatives through eight partner NGOs, among them J/P HRO.