Originally: Analysis: Haiti seeks nearly a billion dollars in international economic donations
All Things Considered, July 13, 2004
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Rich nations are being asked to pull out their checkbooks again to help Haiti out of its latest crisis. Haiti’s trying to raise $924 million at a donors’ conference next week to fund a laundry list of projects. NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN reporting:
For some, the upcoming donors’ conference in Washington will seem familiar. Ten years ago, international donors met in Paris to support an economic plan and the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Now, after a new crisis and Aristide’s ouster, Haiti’s interim leaders are offering a similar economic plan to create jobs, train police, build roads and get children vaccinated and back to school. Former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Tim Carney sees reason for optimism.
Mr. TIM CARNEY (Former US Ambassador to Haiti): We’re certainly looking at the same problems. What we have, though, is we have maybe more substantial than merely straws in the wind to suggest that governance in Haiti is finally beginning to reach the standard we must have here in the 21st century.
KELEMEN: Carney was a critic of Aristide and of past U.S. policy, which he says was focused too much on one man. That thought is echoed by a top official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Adolfo Franco, who praises what he calls the new technocratic government which is to rule Haiti for two years until elections.
Mr. ADOLFO FRANCO (U.S. Agency for International Development): This government and the ministers and so forth are there on an interim basis. These are people who want to do the right thing and then move on and not political figures that have either an ax to grind or have personal ambition.
KELEMEN: Franco, who visited Haiti recently, says the U.S. is boosting its aid to Haiti for this fiscal year from 60 to $160 million and providing emergency funds in the wake of devastating floods this past May. Some members of Congress say that’s still far too little for the poor est nation in the Western Hemisphere, where half the urban population has no access to safe water and life expectancy is just 53 years. Former Ambassador Carney says the international community must make sure the interim government stays focused on fighting poverty.
Mr. CARNEY: You know, if you look at Haiti, it’s 8,000 square miles, more than eight million people. The trees are gone from all of the island except the southern claw where there aren’t any roads for the log poachers to get in. Literally, it’s a country out of space and certainly with no time left to play the sort of games that have marked its 200-year history.
KELEMEN: Donor countries must also learn from the past, according to the World Bank’s Caroline Anstey.
Ms. CAROLINE ANSTEY (World Bank): Ten years ago, the international community came in with very large support for Haiti, but very soon, that spigot of aid, having been turned on and flowing, was turned off. And I think one of the ! lessons that has been learned by the international community is that aid has to be consistent over an extensive period of time.
KELEMEN: She says it’s unlikely that Haiti will raise the $924 million it’s seeking next week, but she predicts donors will provide substantial resources during what she calls a short window of opportunity for the impoverished nation. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.