Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UN Haiti donor pledges surpass targets at almost $10bn

BBC News

The international community has pledged a total of $9.9bn (£6.5bn) in immediate and long-term aid to earthquake-hit Haiti at a UN donor conference.

The $5.3bn (£3.5bn) of support over the next two years exceeds the $4bn requested by the Haitian government to rebuild infrastructure.

“This is the down-payment Haiti needs for wholesale national renewal,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in New York.

The 12 January quake killed 200,000 and left one million more homeless.

Accountability

The biggest contributions came from the United States and the European Union, but more than 130 countries, as well as key international financial institutions, took part in the conference.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, co-hosting the conference with Mr Ban, offered $1.15bn.

The EU meanwhile pledged an additional $1.7bn for food and to support the rebuilding of Haitian President Rene Preval’s government.

International aid will be used to build hospitals, schools and government buildings, create jobs, and reform Haiti’s key farming sector.

Mr Ban said a “robust” internet-based tracking system run by the UN would be used to “ensure accountability and transparency” of the aid distribution.

A commission co-chaired by President Preval and former US President Bill Clinton is supposed to ensure that the aid is well coordinated and well spent.

It is an attempt to let Haiti’s government set the priorities for reconstruction while responding to donor concerns about its reputation for corruption, says the BBC’s Barbara Plett at the United Nations.

Delegates repeatedly stressed that the only way to produce real and lasting results for Haitians was to strengthen and work with the government, not around it, as has been the case in the past, our correspondent adds.

Three-stage plan

The Haitian government and international officials have spent weeks putting together a plan for the country.

The first part of the plan is an 18-month project focusing on rebuilding destroyed infrastructure, government buildings, hospitals and schools – which is expected to cost almost $4bn.

Officials estimate that a total of $11.5bn in aid will be needed for long-term reconstruction, which will involve strengthening institutions and refocusing the economy.

Earlier in the conference, Mr Ban urged donor nations not to forget a separate appeal for $1.44bn for food aid and shelter launched by the UN last month. He said just half had so far been pledged.

Aid agencies have warned that thousands are vulnerable to April rains and the hurricane season in June.

The country was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere before the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck.

Unemployment and illiteracy were high among its nine million population, with about 80% living on less than $2 a day.

Both Haiti’s government and donors are insisting that a strategy of decentralisation is at the heart of the reconstruction plan. They aim to increase development in parts of the country that are less vulnerable to natural disasters than the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The capital’s population more than tripled to 2.5 million in the three decades before the quake.

Officials also hope to develop a rural agricultural strategy that would enable Haiti to become more self-sufficient. Haiti is dependent on food imports, yet about 80% of the population works in agriculture.

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