Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti: Agency says money not a game changer, calls for stronger government

By John Kisimir

Aid agency World Vision International has called upon stakeholders in the Haiti earthquake response to support the strengthening of the country’s government and its institutions.

During a meeting with Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive in Port-au-Prince, the organization’s president and CEO, Kevin Jenkins raised concerns that the availability of funding for the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake will not be a game changer unless the country is supported to establish stronger government institutions that will be accountable to the people.

The agency says Haiti’s history has shown that money itself is not going to make material impact.

“As an organization interested in long-term, sustainable change, we want to see stronger, efficient and accountable government institutions at the national and local levels,” Mr Jenkins told the Prime Minister.

Mr. Jenkins visited the country to strengthen World Vision’s commitment to its partnerships with United Nations agencies, the government of Haiti and other non governmental organizations.

He informed the Prime Minister that, at the time of his visit, World Vision had raised US$130 million for Haiti from around the world. Continued support from individual donors, and the acquisition of grants could raise the total amount to $200 million by the time fund-raising formally closes.

The Prime Minister challenged aid agencies to be transparent to the government and the Haitian people on what they are doing with the funds they are raising. He mentioned that the country had 450 registered aid agencies before the quake but the figure has risen 5,000 since the January 12 earthquake.

He reiterated that the earthquake has wiped away the resources of the country’s middle class – the driving force of its economy.

“Their homes and businesses are gone. Their kids no longer go to school. The poor are still poor and the middle class has joined them,” he said, stressing that there is need to re-focus humanitarian assistance towards job creation as well as promotion of the spirit of enterprise.

The Haitian government was not strong in the past and had most of its institutions destroyed by the earthquake.

“If people feel that the government has no role in delivering services, then why should we have a government, they ask? We need to build true partnerships at all levels,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister commended World Vision for its 31 years of presence in the country. World Vision had 800 staff members in Haiti before the earthquake and has recruited 400 more since the disaster to help in the response.

The World Vision executive also held consultations with the UN head of Haiti’s Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), Nigel Fisher, on ways in which non-governmental organizations can contribute to the future plans and strategy of the country.

He met with representatives of UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. World Vision works closely with UNICEF on education and child protection programmes and is WFP’s leading global partner in food distributions in emergency situations.

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