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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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As Tropical Storms Threaten Haiti, International Community Can, and Must, Do More for Shelter Print
Thursday, 17 June 2010 12:24
On Tuesday, AccuWeather.com reported that Haiti will be at an increased risk of flooding this weekend, as a "tropical disturbance toting heavy showers and gusty thunderstorms moves in from the Eastern Atlantic." The report continues, "In addition, Hurricane Expert Joe Bastardi is predicting a second surge of tropically induced rain in the next two weeks with a tropical wave following the current system...". Adding that in Haiti, "Most of the shelters available to refugees today consist of tarps and tents that may not be able to withstand extreme weather."

In fact, many on the ground in Haiti have been provided with neither tarps nor tents. Although the Shelter Cluster reports 134 percent coverage of emergency shelter materials, looking deeper at the data shows that this may be misleading. While coverage for some areas greatly exceeds 100 percent, for others the coverage is significantly lower. A total of 232,130 people are still without either tents or tarps according to Shelter Cluster data from June 8. In addition to this number, a recent document from the Shelter Cluster notes that, "Tarps and tents that were distributed  in the first three months are more likely to have reached the end of their life span and might need to be replaced." The number of households whose soul source of protection from the weather are tents and tarps distributed in the first three months is an amazing 276,422, or well over 1 million people.
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Katrina Redux: New Disaster, Same Contractors Print
Friday, 11 June 2010 08:50
Ben Fox of the AP reported earlier this week on foreign firms going to Haiti to try and capitalize on the long and expensive reconstruction process. One contractor, which we have written about previously is Ashbritt. Fox writes:
Pompano Beach, Florida-based AshBritt Inc. so far has invested $25 million in its Haitian reconstruction operation covering a soccer field.

Now all Perkins [the CEO of Ashbritt] needs is a government contract to make his investment pay off.
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Reforming Reform: Judicial Edition Print
Thursday, 10 June 2010 14:06
The Wall Street Journal reports on moves by the Senate Appropriations Committee to block some funding for criminal justice programs in Haiti following the massacre at the prison in Las Cayes. Dionne Searcey writes:
The Appropriations proposal, put forth by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, says that in light of the incident at Les Cayes "no funds ... should be obligated for justice programs in Haiti until a thorough, credible and transparent investigation occurs, the results of which are made publicly available, and the [Haitian government] takes appropriate action."

The language, while not binding, is still powerful and would likely be honored. If the proposal is approved, at least one U.S.-backed justice-reform program in Haiti expects to shut its doors, according to people close to the group.
The program that will be probably be stopped is a $20 million project, administered by USAID. Although Haiti's criminal justice system does clearly need improvement and reform, it is worth pointing out that USAID money for justice programs have, in the past, been used to undermine the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
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Increasing Risk of Forced Evictions as Relocation Efforts Falter Print
Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:41
Ansel Herz reports for Inter-Press Service on the ongoing problems between land owners and the "temporary" camps that have sprung up throughout Port-au-Prince. Following the announcement of a moratorium on forced evictions, there is still massive confusion according to Herz, who writes:
The Haitian government and U.N. agreed in April to a temporary moratorium on forced evictions of camps. They say no landowner should push people from land unless there is an alternative space that meets minimum humanitarian standards.

“We made the decision together. But applying it was another story,” Interior Minister Paul Antoine Ben-Aimie told IPS in an interview. “We haven’t communicated anything to the population so far.”
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A Day in the Life of Haiti's Tent Cities Print
Monday, 07 June 2010 19:47
Katie Kane, an associate profeesor of English at the University of Montana, recently traveled to Haiti to spend 24 hours living in the Camp Croix des Prez in Port-au-Prince. Kane was invited by KOFAVIV, a Haitian women's organization and through her experience is able to convey life in the camps with a level of detail that is often lacking in reports from traditional journalists. After being told that the 68 people died during the earthquake at the site of the camp, Kane writes:
He gestures around the camp while he tells me, “We are standing on their bodies; they are under us, and we walk on them every day.”

In a statement that somehow sums up the general situation of failure on the part of the international aid organizations in Haiti, Jean says, “No one has come to help us to get them out.” It is a phrase I will hear many times over before I leave the camp: “No one has come to help.”
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Tracking the Displaced: How Agricultural Support Can Aid the Decentralization Process Print
Monday, 07 June 2010 12:58
A study done by the Karolinka Institute in collaboration with Columbia University and with the help of Digicel, offers a detailed view into the internal displacement caused by the earthquake. The analysis looks at the locations of Digicel mobile phones from January 1 until March 11.

The study finds that based on their estimates, by January 31, 570,000 people had left Port-au-Prince, with the three largest recipient areas being, Sud, Ouest and Artibonite. By March 11, however, some 41 percent of those displaced had returned to the capital, most of whom had been in Port-au-Prince prior to the quake.
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Donors Must Learn From Past Failures, Fulfil Aid Pledges Print
Thursday, 03 June 2010 11:22
Yesterday in the Dominican Republic a conference was held on the reconstruction of Haiti, the "World Summit on the Future of Haiti: Solidarity beyond the Crisis". The summit brought together over 100 countries and international organizations. At the summit, Haitian President Rene Preval called on donor countries to honor the pledges made at the Donor Conference in New York over two months ago. In New York $5.3 billion was pledged for the next two years, and $9.9 billion over the next decade. Despite this, Al-Jazeera reports:
According to aid experts, Haiti needs about $11.5bn for its anticipated decade-long rebuilding effort.

But so far, Haitian government officials say, only Brazil has delivered its entire aid pledge of $55m.
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MINUSTAH Continues to Prioritize Security Over Relief Print
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 12:55
We – along with aid and relief groups on the ground in Haiti - have argued before that in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake an over-emphasis on security concerns severely hampered relief efforts. US defense secretary Robert Gates cited "security concerns" for preventing air drops of humanitarian aid, while Doctors Without Borders warned that "hundreds could die" after one of their supply planes was delayed for 48 hours because the US military was not prioritizing humanitarian aid at the Port-au-Prince airport. CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot noted on January 20 that despite the warning about security:
Lieutenant General PK Keen, deputy commander of the US Southern Command, reports that there is less violence in Haiti now than there was before the earthquake hit. Dr Evan Lyon, of Partners in Health, a medical aid group famous for its heroic efforts in Haiti, referred to "misinformation and rumours … and racism" concerning security issues.

“We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There's no UN guards. There's no US military presence. There's no Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no insecurity.”
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As Hurricane Season Begins, Inadequate Preparation Could Lead to Another Catastrophe Print
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 10:33
Today is the official beginning of the Hurricane season in the Caribbean, and there are a number of stories from over the weekend warning of another serious catastrophe given the conditions on the ground in Haiti. As we pointed out last week, experts are forecasting an above average hurricane season, with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting up to 23 named tropical storms. AP reminds us that "Tropical Storm Jeanne killed nearly 3,000 people in 2004, and a series of 2008 storms killed 800 — mostly in the country's central region north of Port-au-Prince." Both the AP and the Miami Herald point out that only a very small portion of the displaced have been relocated from flood prone areas. From the AP:
Dr. Jean Pape, one of the country's most prominent public health experts, estimates that only 1 percent of the masses stuck in dangerous flood zones have been relocated.
Read more...

 

 
World Bank Cancels Haiti's Debt, IMF Yet to Do the Same Print
Friday, 28 May 2010 14:14
The World Bank announced today that they have cancelled the remaining $36 million in debt owed by Haiti. The Bank said that the cancellation was "made possible by contributions from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland." The decision comes nearly one month after the United States passed a law directing the "Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. Executive Directors at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)" to completely cancel Haiti's debt.

The International Monetary Fund, however, has yet to cancel Haiti's debt. According to IMF figures, Haiti's debt to the Fund stands at $282 million. Although interest rates on outstanding loans are zero until 2012, the IMF projects that obligation will reach nearly 3 percent of government revenue by 2014. This includes the $114 million loan the Fund approved for Haiti after the earthquake. In contrast, the World Bank has made $479 million available to Haiti in the form of grants.

Given that the US congress is pushing the treasury secretary to cancel Haiti's debt, and that the US treasury continues to hold an effective veto over the IMF, one may wonder why it is taking the IMF so long to grant debt relief to Haiti.
 
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