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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Fifty-three Members of Congress Urge Obama Administration to Address “Appalling Conditions” in Haiti’s IDP Camps Print
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 14:44

Today, fifty-three Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscoring the gross inadequacy of relief efforts of USAID,  International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other aid organizations in Haiti’s camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

Co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY), Donald Payne (NJ) and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter urges the administration to focus its attention on the deteriorating situation in the camps, in particular the lack of water, sanitation and other basic services; the increase in gender-based violence; and the frequent occurrence of forced evictions of camp residents.

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Haitian Companies Still Sidelined from Reconstruction Contracts Print
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 11:51

In December 2010, the AP conducted an analysis of Haitian earthquake contracts given out by the US government, finding that only $1.60 out of every $100 went to Haitian companies. In the story, USAID responded:

US AID says it is committed to increasing the amount of contracts going to Haitians.

“We already are engaging with Haitian communities to make them aware of how they can partner with us,” said Janice Laurente, a spokeperson for US AID.

Yet a new analysis from Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch shows that since December 2010, not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian firm, according to the Federal Procurement Data System  (FPDS).  As of April 14, 2011, 1490 contracts had been awarded, since the January 2010 earthquake, for a total of $194,458,912. Of those 1490 contracts, only 23 have gone to Haitian companies, totaling just $4,841,426, or roughly 2.5 percent of the total.

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Help CEPR in Our Work on Haiti Print
Friday, 15 April 2011 10:17

Dear Friend of CEPR,

Several times per year, we at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ask our friends and supporters to consider making a donation to sustain our work. This spring, we are asking for support for a crucial part of CEPR’s international work, our Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.

CEPR created the Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog in the first few weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, with a focus on ensuring that the most urgent needs of the Haitian people are being met. Through direct traffic as well as a partnership with Wired magazine, Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch has been able to reach thousands of people, including policymakers, journalists and aid workers on the ground in Haiti. From the very first post (there are now over 275 posts), the blog has focused extensively on the issue of adequate shelter and sanitation.

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Lucke Guy; Former USAID Official Continues Lobbying for Contractors in Haiti Print
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 15:51
Following the earthquake in Haiti, Lewis Lucke became the United States' Special Coordinator for Relief and Reconstruction in Haiti. But less than a year after the earthquake he was in court suing the Haiti Recovery Group and its two partners, Ashbritt Inc. and the GB Group, for nearly $500,000. According to the AP, about two months after Lucke "finished" his work as US Special Coordinator, he began working with Ashbritt, a company we've written about numerous times before. The AP continues:

Lucke claims he "played an integral role" in securing two $10 million contracts -- the one from the Haitian government and a second from the World Bank -- along with a third with CHF International worth $366,000. He said he fulfilled his obligations under the contract by performing such services as "providing an understanding of the recovery efforts, making key introductions, and identifying sources of funding for HRG projects."

The incentives under the contract provided he would be paid a bonus if the HRG earned contracts worth more than $6 million. Lucke says he is owed about $492,483 as well as attorney's fees for the breach of contract.

Before the lawsuit was settled, however, Lucke was back at it. In December 2010, Lucke became a board member of MC Endeavor Inc. and its subsidiary, CENTIUUM Holdings Inc. The company describes itself as an "international Smart-Home Builder and Sustainable Community Developer utilizing green technologies". In a press release announcing Lucke's decision to join the board, the company touts Lucke's work in Haiti:

Ambassador Lucke most recently served as U.S. Response Coordinator for the Haiti earthquake, leading the United States’ $1.0 billion to date relief and recovery program. The reconstruction phase is next and is expected to take about $10 Billion to build interim and permanent housing for over 1 million homeless earthquake victims.

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IHRC Board Meets Amidst Mounting Criticism Print
Friday, 08 April 2011 14:07

As Bill Clinton heads to Haiti to participate in the second day of meetings of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), the exclusion of Haitian and civil society input should be on top of the agenda. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported yesterday, “Almost nine months after a battered Haiti approved a U.S.-backed blueprint for its recovery, small nongovernmental and grassroots community organizations essential to the country’s long-term reconstruction are being left behind in the nearly $2 billion in reconstruction projects that have been approved.” But not only are they missing out on the funding, they are being overlooked in the decision making process as well.

In December the 12 Haitian members of the IHRC wrote a formal letter outlining their marginalization within the IHRC. They wrote:


The twelve Haitian members present here feel completely disconnected from the activities of the IHRC. There is a critical communication and information shortage at the TIC [Information and Communication Technology] on the part of the Executive Secretary and even more from the Executive Committee. In spite of our role in the governance structure of the institution, we have so far received no follow-up on the IHRC activities.

In general, contact is only established one day before the board meetings. Board members have time neither to read, nor analyze, nor understand--and much less to respond intelligently--to projects submitted at the last minute, despite all the complaints expressed and promises made on this subject.


The letter adds that, “In reality, Haitians members of the board have one role: to endorse the decisions made by the Director and Executive Committee.”

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Talk of Prioritizing a Civilian, Over a Military Mission, at the UNSC Print
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 14:59

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos chaired a UN Security Council meeting today, reportedly attended by representatives of 14 countries (including the foreign ministers of MINUSTAH members Argentina and Chile) and UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, that focused on Haiti. According to Colombia Reports, Santos said:

"Think of what we could achieve if instead of having a high percentage of military personnel, the mission had more civilian personnel and more engineers to assist the removal of debris, a task which is starting to show significant progress thanks to the efforts of the Haitian authorities," the president said.

And

"If we have a United Nations operation in Haiti, why don't we use it to serve their immediate needs and begin to cement its transition towards development?" Santos continued.

"Today, the proliferation of organizations operating on this island without any coordination between themselves or the Haitian authorities, undermines any effort to strengthen the institutions of the country and they affect the ability to undertake long-term initiatives which means that their efforts do not lead to anything concrete."

"It does not help Haiti if the international community does not take into account the vision of the Haitians about their own problems. For this reason if the Haitian people accept the renewed support of the international community, we propose that it be based on a foundation that guarantees the effectiveness of our joint action," Santos added.

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Martelly’s Historically Weak Mandate Print
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 13:13

Preliminary results announced by the CEP last night showed Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly with 67.6 percent of the vote, while Mirlande Manigat received 31.5 percent. While news headlines focus on the “landslide” victory for Martelly, he actually received the support of only 16.7 percent of registered voters -- far from a strong mandate -- as early reports show Martelly with just 716,986 votes to Manigat’s 336,747. Reports indicate that turnout was even lower than in the first round, when it was a historically low 22.8 percent, and Martelly’s percent of votes (as well as Manigat’s) would have been even smaller were it not for the use of new electoral lists which removed some 400,000 people from the rolls.

Nevertheless, media reports have largely ignored the issue of turnout. AOL’s Emily Troutman reported last night that, “Martelly's 67 percent of the vote is nearly unprecedented in Haiti and a clear mandate for his leadership”. Not only is the 67 percent number misleading in terms of his overall support, it is also far from unprecedented (as other reporters have also stated). In 1990 Aristide was elected with 67 percent of the vote, but with significantly higher turnout. Aristide received over one million votes in 1990 even though there were over one million fewer registered voters at the time. In 1995, Preval was elected with over 87 percent of the vote. In 2000, Aristide received over 3.5 times as many votes as Martelly did in the runoff elections last month. Even Preval’s most recent term began with a greater mandate than Martelly’s; in 2006 he received nearly one million votes with 700,000 fewer registered voters.

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“Assessing Progress in Haiti Act” Makes Its Way Through Congress Print
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 14:55

Given the immense problems with the relief effort, many of which were discussed yesterday, it is encouraging to see the “Assessing Progress in Haiti Act” making its way through the US Congress. The bill (H.R. 1016), citing the level of devastation, the slow pace of reconstruction and the massive amount of money pledged, requests that:


Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, in consultation with the heads of all relevant agencies, including the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shall transmit to Congress a report on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti, including efforts to prevent the spread of cholera and treat persons infected with the disease.


The report “shall include a description, analysis, and evaluation” of the overall relief efforts, specific USG projects, projects to “protect vulnerable populations, such as internally displaced persons, children, women and girls, and persons with disabilities” and projects in health, sanitation and water. The report would also require the government to measure the “extent to which United States and international efforts are in line with the priorities of the Government of Haiti and are actively engaging and working through Haitian ministries and local authorities.”

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA] and has 13 cosponsors, has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The full text of the bill can be read here.

 
18 Percent of Tally Sheets Excluded, According to Haitian Media Print
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 12:13

"[T]he second round of the presidential and legislative elections was quite an improvement in many ways on the first round," according to the joint OAS-CARICOM observation mission. Yet reports are now emerging that a high number of tally sheets (PVs) have been excluded due to fraud or irregularities. Le Nouvelliste and Radio Kiskeya both reported that 18 percent of the tally sheets that have been counted thus far have been quarantined. Le Nouvelliste added, however, that many of these are subject to continuing analysis that could allow them to eventually be counted. The problems associated with the excluded sheets include missing signatures of polling station members, ballot stuffing, and missing voter identification numbers, among other problems.

Radio Kiskeya reports that 4,427 tally sheets have been counted, out of a total of 11,182 and that of those, 18.7 percent (830), have been excluded for fraud or other irregularities. In the first round of the election, the CEP quarantined just 312 tally sheets, while the OAS recommended excluding an additional 234. Since the CEP never actually published detailed final results, it is impossible to determine how many sheets were actually excluded. Either way, with just a fraction of the tally sheets having been counted, it appears the number of irregular tally sheets already greatly exceeds the number from the first round. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2,000 tally sheets will be excluded. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2000 tally sheets will be discarded. Given a similar turnout to the first round, this would equal roughly 200,000 votes.

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OCHA Bulletin Highlights Massive Shortcomings in Relief Efforts Print
Monday, 28 March 2011 14:15

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) latest “Humanitarian Bulletin” provides some insight into just how much the relief efforts have struggled to provide results over the last year. Despite grandiose aid pledges, complete with the customary sound bites, the situation on the ground has not greatly improved. A few days after the earthquake President Obama stated:

“To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.”

That reality that is described by OCHA is one where the greatest needs of Haitians have, in fact, been forgotten. Although world leaders pledged over $5 billion dollars last April, and private donations from Americans alone topped $1 billion, OCHA reports that:

A Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) and CCCM Cluster analysis reveals that most of the funding to partners to support sanitation, water trucking activities and camp management will be exhausted by June 2011. As a result, it is expected that the number of humanitarian actors able to continue activities will be drastically reduced, which in turn will have serious consequences on the living conditions of camps residents. Their level of vulnerability will be particularly high due to the rain and hurricane season.

But how much worse can the “living conditions” of those in the camps really get? The same OCHA bulletin notes that only 29% of the camps have waste removal, only 43% of the camps have water tanks or trucks bringing water in, and less than 30% of those in the camps have received chlorination tablets in the last month. For a more independent analysis of the situation in the camps, see Mark Schuller’s report, “Foreign Responsibility in the Failure to Protect Against Cholera and Other Man-Made Disasters”. In addition, over 230,000 people have either been evicted, or are threatened by eviction, and the “eviction rate is increasing,” according to OCHA. The report discusses the evictions in the context of the reduction in the IDP population, a subject covered at length last week.

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