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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Washington Post Reports on the US' "New Approach to Aid" Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 12:27
Mary Beth Sheridan reports for the Washington Post on the US' new approach to aid in Haiti:
An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation.

This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.
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A Look at the Haiti Reconstruction Plan Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 11:50
Colum Lynch reports for the Washington Post on the action plan that President Preval will present to the donor conference at the UN tomorrow. Lynch writes that the plan would "redirect much of Haiti's economic development outside Port-au-Prince." The plan details how money will be spent over the next 18 months. Lynch quotes from the plan:
"Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake," according to the 53-page document, the first detailed account of how Haiti and its international backers plan to spend their money over the next 18 months. "It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss."
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Paul Farmer: NGOs "Need to Read the Writing on the Wall" Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 09:26
Paul Farmer, speaking at Barry University, said that NGOs were not doing enough to help the Haitian people after the earthquake, reports the Miami New Times blog. The article continues:

"There's graffiti all over the walls in Port au Prince right now saying, 'Down with NGOs,'" Farmer said in a speech at Barry University. "I think people in the NGO sector need to read the writing on the wall."
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Group Releases Compilation of Documents Outlining Plans for a Haitian Led Reconstruction Print
Monday, 29 March 2010 13:28

A group of Washington based groups, the "ad-hoc Haiti advocacy coalition", released a document today which includes numerous recommendations for implementing a Haitian led reconstruction. The purpose of the document is "to ensure that Haitian input is accessible to international policymakers, donors, and media as critical strategy and funding decisions are being made that will impact Haiti’s future. The compilation consists of documents from Haitian civil society, international NGOs, coalitions and diaspora conferences. Below are some of the general points and principles for guiding both short-term and long-term reconstruction:

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Forecast Calls for Rain, Could See Rise in Pediatric Diarrheal Disease Print
Monday, 29 March 2010 11:06
Dr. Jim Wilson, of Praecipio International, posted on the Shelter Cluster website a warning of a possible crisis of Pediatric Diarrheal Disease. The forecast "calls for thunderstorms beginning this Wednesday and lasting at least through the following Tuesday."

Wilson notes the concern on the ground about rises in diarrheal disease, especially in regards to children. He notes that it, "has already been documented that diarrheal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality both before the earthquake and after.  We have observed apparent ‘bumps’ in diarrheal disease incidence following periods of sustained rainfall..."
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New York Times: "Haiti’s Misery" Print
Friday, 26 March 2010 13:54
A New York Times editorial today calls attention to the ongoing struggle in Haiti. The editorial calls for urgent efforts on shelter and sanitation and highlights a recent Amnesty report detailing a rise in cases of rape in the IDP camps. The Times also stresses the need for coordination with the Haitian government. The Times writes:
The emergency in Haiti isn’t over. It’s getting worse, as the outside world’s attention fades away.

Misery rages like a fever in the hundreds of camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of the 1.3 million people left homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake. The dreaded rains have already swamped tents and ragged stick-and-tarp huts. They have turned walkways into mud lakes and made difficult or impossible the simple acts of collecting and cooking food, washing clothes, staying clean and avoiding disease. The rainy season peaks in May.
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Bill Clinton: 40,000 May Die in Rainy Season Print
Friday, 26 March 2010 13:21

The AP reports on a speech Bill Clinton gave to aid organizations working in Haiti. Clinton issued a stark warning; if urgent efforts are not made to relocate those displaced, up to 40,000 may die during the rainy season. Clinton stressed the need for aid organizations to empower the Haitian government, and make efforts to turn Haiti into a self-sufficient nation, echoing statements made by human rights groups to the Inter American Commission earlier in the week. The AP reports that Clinton said:

Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?
As Haitian officials have consistently said, they face serious budget issues and are unable to pay many workers, as such, Clinton asked organizations "to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training." Clinton also urged organizations in Haiti to "participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent."

To read the entire article, click here.
 
Obama Asks for $2.8 Billion for Haiti Print
Thursday, 25 March 2010 10:19

Yesterday, President Obama formally asked congress (PDF) to approve ammendements to the budget in the amount of $2.8 billion. It is important to note that most of this money can be used to reimburse funds that were already spent by the agencies, so the total new assistance will not be the total $2.8 billion. The BBC reports that the Senate is " is said to be close to a bill meeting Mr Obama's request." Following is the breakdown of agencies that would receive funding:

$150 million to the Department of Agriculture (food aid).

$655 million to the Department of Defense.

$220 million to the Department of Health and Human Services.

$60 million to the Department of Homeland Security.

$1,491 million to USAID and the State Department.

$219.8 million to the Department of the Treasury.

$5.2 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

You can read the whole document here, and see the breakdown within agencies.

 
Rights Groups Testify Before Inter-American Commission Print
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 14:19
A number of human rights groups and NGOs testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights yesterday. The groups stressed a human rights based approach to foreign assistance and requested the commission to visit Haiti to investigate the human rights situation. Mario Joseph of Bureaux des Avocats Internationaux said:
International aid has been given generously, but distributed poorly, without input from earthquake survivors. As a result, children are going hungry, women are at risk of sexual violence and exploitation, and families are sleeping in the rain, without waterproof shelter.
The groups had previously issued a series of recommendations in advance of the donor conference.

To read the testimonies and other documents that were submitted to the Inter-American commission, click here.

The groups were: Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Partners In Health (PIH),  the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), and Zanmi Lasante (ZL)
 
Relocation Plans May Have Social Health Implications Print
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 11:37
The Huffington Post has started a Haiti blog, "Rebuilding Haiti: Dispatches From the Relief Effort." The blog will have posts from relief workers, both from the ground and from international support teams. Yesterday, Rowan Moore Gerety of UNICEF, posted about the relocation plans for Port-au-Prince. With the relocation moving extremely slowly, the sudden movement may mean that beyond public health problems, there could be social health problems:
In Haiti, the rainy season is about to begin, necessitating relocation of the score of people displaced by the earthquake and currently living in over crowded camps. There are plans to move roughly 150,000 people currently living in the camps to the center of Port-au-Prince by May, yet only one site with a capacity of under 4,000 people has been secured to date.

When rains drenched the capital on Thursday night, the Golf Club de Pétionville turned to mud. It was a frightening preview of what the rainy season will hold for the 45,000 people who live there if they stay. Tents collapsed. Ditches overflowed with sewage. People and their belongings were swept downhill.
Read more...

 

 
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