Rebeca Grynspan: Towards a new partnership between the Government of Haiti and the NGOs working in Haiti

Sep 24, 2012

Remarks by Rebeca Grynspan
Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of UNDP
on the occasion of the Haiti UN GA side-event
“Towards a new partnership between the Government of Haiti and the NGOs working in Haiti”
Conference room # CR-2
Monday, 24 September 2012

Your Excellency Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe,
Ambassador Jean Wesley Cazeau,
Ambassador Paul Altidor,
Mr. John Chaloner
Mr. Prospery Raymond
Mr. Sean Penn

Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends;

First of all, I would like to thank the Government of Haiti for the invitation to participate in this important event. I am honored to be here and to accompany the Government of Haiti and the NGO community working there, in launching this new partnership. President Martelly’s message, and the attendance of Prime Minister Lamothe and representatives from the two main NGO platforms in Haiti, as well as the global NGO community, illustrates well the importance of this event and the commitment of its actors.     

Historically, the presence of a large NGO community in Haiti is well-documented, and their work has been positively felt everywhere in the country. Over the years, these NGOs have provided great support to the work of the Haitian authorities, mainly through the provision of basic social services to vulnerable populations – thereby offering essential services to the ones most in need.

Since January 2010, the work of NGOs in Haiti has become even more prominent as they have played an impressive and critical role in helping Haiti deal with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. Their contribution to the national efforts in so many different sectors, such as health, shelter, water and sanitation, and livelihoods, to name a few, has been invaluable.

The United Nations Country Team has had long-standing and fruitful partnerships with both national and international NGOs in Haiti. Indeed, many of the large programmes funded by UN agencies, funds and programmes in Haiti are implemented by NGOs:  more than 13% of the USD 550.6 million (equivalent to USD 74.6 million) spent in 2011 went to national NGOs, while 9% (USD 54.1 million) went to international NGOs.

As has been the case in other emergency settings, the response operation in Haiti also highlighted some of the challenges that the humanitarian, as well as the development, community often face in such circumstances – that of ensuring that the ownership, leadership, and responsibility of the coordination and management of the crisis response lies in the hands of national authorities. Lack of information on the nature and location of NGOs’, and other international actors’ activities, has also sometimes been a cause for concern. Overall, experience has shown that effective coordination among the multiplicity of actors is of central importance so as to avoid posing heavy burden on the already over-stretched national institutions and to ensure prioritization of efforts. In turn, this requires the international community to strongly back national institutions and coordination structures and to avoid fragmentation of efforts and spreading too thin on the ground. Addressing this is critical for the sustainability and success of the reconstruction and development efforts.

Now that Haiti is transitioning from a humanitarian phase to a greater focus on development efforts, it is very important that we learn from past experiences. The Government is committed to assuming full leadership over the recovery and development efforts, by gradually reinforcing its capacity to ensure an effective and transparent management of international aid. In order to help the Government achieve that goal, there is a clear need to further integrate and align international funds with national structures, systems, and priorities, as defined in the Strategic Plan for the Development of Haiti.

In this process, the Government has finalized a new aid-coordination mechanism to foster dialogue between Haitian authorities and their international partners to ensure that all efforts are geared towards the same long-term goals. An important part in operationalizing the mechanism will be the participation of the NGO community so that, together with the Government, a dialogue can take place in terms of how to best contribute towards meeting national development goals and priorities.

Today’s meeting is a timely step in the right direction as it confirms the Government’s desire to work with the NGO community in a partnership, based on mutual trust and collaboration. The Government and the NGO community are jointly committed to re-defining principles of collaboration and engaging in a dialogue grounded in national priorities and a positive vision of partnerships for Haiti’s future. This is a positive development.

A critical element of strengthening national leadership and ownership is the sustained investment in institutional capacities, whether that of the government or of civil society organizations, at both central and local levels.

The United Nations is fully committed to supporting such capacity development to strengthen institutions and civil society organizations. Indeed, UN agencies and funds in Haiti currently have a total of 835 staff –693 of which are Haitian nationals - deployed in national and local government entities, providing technical assistance to this end. And there are many more examples of the UN’s engagement in capacity development in the areas of education, housing, health, water and sanitation, nutrition, employment, and disaster risk reduction, to cite a few. 

I would suggest that such spirit of “accompaniment” is also important for the NGOs working in Haiti, and I am certain that they have a lot to offer in this regards, not least when it comes to strengthening national civil society institutions so that Haitian citizens can also contribute more effectively to the development of their country.

Allow me to conclude by emphasizing the UN’s continued commitment to working in the spirit of national leadership and ownership, and with the NGO community, in support of Haitian development priorities.

I thank you for your attention.

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