$10bn for quake-hit Haiti

2010-04-01 11:44

International donors pledged nearly $10 billion (about

R72.5 billion) here on Wednesday to help shell-shocked Haiti recover from

January’s devastating earthquake.

The $9.9 billion pledge from about 50 donors includes $5.3 billion

for the 2010-2011 period, far in excess of the $3.8 billion that was sought by

conference organisers for that period.

That target was meant to fund a $4 billion action plan put forward

by the Haitian government to fund reconstruction projects over the next two

years in the poorest country in the Americas.

“The member states and international partners have pledged

$5.3 billion for the next two years and $9.9 billion in total for the next three

years and beyond,” United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon told a press conference

wrapping up the meeting.

“Friends of Haiti have acted far beyond expectations.”

The aim of the meeting was to help the battered Caribbean country

“build back better” after the 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12 levelled parts

of its capital Port-au-Prince, killing at least 220 000 people and leaving

1.3 million homeless.

Wednesday’s biggest contributions came from the US and the

27-member European Union (EU). Several dignitaries emphasised the need to follow

through on the pledges, which Ban said “will be published and tracked by a

web-based system” established by the UN and Haiti.

“Reconstruction will be Haitian-led, inclusive, accountable,

transparent, coordinated and results oriented,” US Secretary of State Hillary

Clinton told the press conference.

The US chief diplomat, co-hosting the conference with Ban, offered

$1.15 billion, saying the funds would go toward supporting Haiti’s plan “to

strengthen agriculture, energy, health, security and governance.”

Meanwhile, the EU pledged an additional $1.6 billion, with France

offering to disburse € 180 million in 2010-2011 for food and the

restoration of government authority.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the meeting that the

EU contribution was on top of € 295 million already pledged, bringing total

EU public and private contributions “close to three billion dollars.”

About 138 countries, international bodies such as the World Bank

and the International Monetary Fund, non-governmental organisations and Haitian

expatriates took part in the one-day conference.

Officials have estimated Haiti needs $11.5 billion in aid for

reconstruction over the next 10 years. Stressing the need not to repeat past

errors in helping impoverished Haiti, Clinton appealed to the world to “do

things differently” this time.

“We cannot retreat to failed strategies,” she added. “We need Haiti

to succeed.” Her husband, US special envoy to Haiti and former US president,

Bill Clinton, meanwhile said that he and the Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max

Bellerive would lead an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) tasked with

overseeing the pledges.

The IHRC, which will have an 18-month mandate, is meant to give the

Haitian government “influence over how and where aid is spent and will ensure

that the reconstruction is well coordinated” and addresses the needs of all

Haitians.

UN Development Program administrator Helen Clark joined calls to

put “the government and people of Haiti... in the driver’s seat of the recovery”

and stressed the need to involve civil society, the private sector and the

Haitian diaspora.

The World Bank meanwhile said it would provide $479 million in aid

through June 2011, of which $250 million was new funding.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick called for another meeting in

six months’ time, coinciding with the annual General Assembly session in

September to assess the progress.

“This is an opportunity to go from tragedy to trying to do

something very differently, and the key to this is to be able to combine capable

Haitian ownership with an effective donor partnership,” he noted.

He said this would require “budget support to help the Haitian

government.”

“To make this easier for the various donor countries, the Bank will

be serving as the fiscal agent for the multi-donor trust fund, that we’ve helped

set up with the other international agencies so as to try to assure stronger

fiduciary controls,’ he added.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique

Strauss-Kahn described the conference as “a unique occasion to try to rebuild

the Haitian economy” and said the proposed Trust Fund was “the right way to move

forward.”

Among other key donations, Canada, a major provider of aid to

Port-au-Prince, said it would also chip in with Can$400 million while Brazil

pledged $172 million, including $15 million in direct budget support for the

Haitian government.

Japan offered $30 million in addition to $70 million already

announced.

 


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