Governments will be asked to contribute $924 million at a
donors’ conference here next week to fund Haiti’s reconstruction over the
next two years and begin repairing its shattered economy.
The money will fund emergency short-term projects, such as the creation
of 30,000 jobs by September, as well as longer-term initiatives such as
repairing infrastructure, providing basic services and strengthening
Haiti’s economic and political institutions. Haiti has already mustered
$440 million for the effort.
The $1.36 billion two-year reconstruction plan rolled out at World Bank
headquarters yesterday does not reflect all of Haiti’s needs,
international finance experts said. Rather, it is a list of achievable
targets aimed at establishing enough stability to put in place a Poverty
Reduction Strategy–the standard World Bank assistance program for poor
countries–after two years.
The plan, which devotes $335 million to strengthening political and
economic governance, is also engineered to convince wary donors of
Haiti’s ability to absorb and manage aid. The last decade, rife with
instability and corruption, witnessed the plunging of foreign assistance
to Haiti from $611 million in 1994 to $136 million in 2001.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Half of its 8
million people live in extreme poverty and will die before the age of
53. The primary school enrollment rate is 68 percent. Half the urban
population has no access to potable water. The infrastructure is in an
advanced state of decay. Of Haiti’s 3,400 kilometers of roads, just 18
percent are paved. The lights are on in Port-au-Prince only two to three
hours per day.
The dire situation spurred the World Bank and its partners to act
quickly, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Caroline Anstey
said, drawing up a detailed Interim Cooperation Framework, as the
reconstruction plan is officially called, in an unprecedented six weeks
starting in April.
“There is a fundamental belief that there is a two-year window to put in
place economic and democratic reforms,” Anstey said, referring to the
length of time during which Haiti will be ruled by a technocratic
interim government whose members are barred from seeking office in
elections next year. “This is a technocratic government very committed
to reform, consisting of people who have no political ambitions.”
According to Anstey, the process by which Haiti’s IFC was drawn up is a
new one. Rather than merely participating in discussions with the World
Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, the
European Commission and 250 other international experts, the Haitian
government led the process, identifying key areas of need. The interim
government helped establish its credentials by setting up an
anti-corruption unit. In addition, the plan lays out six-, 12- and
18-month targets to help the process stay on track.
“This is the first time in Haiti where everyone got together and
established some sort of vision for the future,” said Hervey Sylvain, an
adviser to Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and a member of the
committee that drew up the plan, adding that past appeals to donors have
consisted of a “laundry list” of projects to which the government was
not particularly committed.
By September 2006, at the end of the IFC’s life span, Haiti will
hopefully have, among other things, 500,000 new jobs (30 percent of them
for women), 6,000 trained police, round-the-clock electricity in
Port-au-Prince, water and sanitation service for 100,000 people in
disadvantaged neighborhoods, 1,500 newly rehabilitated schools, garbage
collection in one-quarter of the slums, 10,000 upgraded housing units in
the slums and 2,000 new housing units there.
With Iraq overshadowing all else, it is hard to predict how successful
the July 19-20 donor conference will be. As of June 14, a U.N. flash
appeal for $35 million for Haiti launched in March had received just
under $11 million.
The European Union has pledged $200 million to Haiti next week. Asked
yesterday if she thought other international donors would provide the
rest of what is needed, Anstey answered, “I think that’s pretty
unlikely. But I think when the conference is over we will receive a
substantial amount of the money we are asking for.”