Haiti: Stabilisation and Reconstruction after the Quake
Haiti: Stabilisation and Reconstruction after the Quake
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Report / Latin America & Caribbean 3 minutes

Haiti: Stabilisation and Reconstruction after the Quake

As a critical strategy conference convenes today at the UN, a Haitian-owned and led process, based on broad consensus among Haitians and with resolute international support, is needed to build the country back better after the devastating earthquake.

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Executive Summary

Haiti’s earthquake produced enormous devastation that threatens political and socio-economic stability and poses huge recovery and reconstruction challenges. Historical institutional and governance weaknesses and deep poverty compound a major humanitarian crisis that could become very difficult to control if the security environment deteriorates further with the approaching rainy and hurricane seasons. The disaster prompted postponement of legislative elections and casts uncertainty over whether presidential elections can be held at year’s end as planned. After mid-May, the legislature will have left office, and the country will be missing critical parts of its institutional anatomy. The government must thus reach out now to civil, political and economic society to forge a robust consensus on how democracy can be upheld until elections without sacrificing the incumbent’s ability to take tough and urgent decisions on reconstruction. These need to be based on a Haitian-led long-term strategy supported by all sectors of society and the international community and pay due attention to restoring security and rule of law.

Haiti was barely recovering from the 2008 storms which left 800 dead and caused over $1 billion in damage when the 7.0 earthquake hit on 12 January 2010, killing an estimated 250,000, including a number of senior government and UN officials, injuring another 300,000, and displacing 1.5 million, half of whom fled to other provinces and cities unprepared to receive them. The quake produced urgent reconstruction costs estimated at $11.5 billion, destroyed over 80 per cent of Port-au-Prince and several towns and villages close by and flattened the seats of all three branches of government along with fifteen of the seventeen ministries, 45 per cent of the police stations and a number of courts.

More than two and a half months after the quake struck and as the Haitian government and donors gather in New York on 31 March for a critical reconstruction strategy conference, hundreds of thousands of Haitian citizens continue to experience severe hardship and increasing crime, violence and sexual abuse in precarious, spontaneous settlements in Port-au-Prince. Many others are holding out in the locations they have fled to after the disaster, which, however, are unprepared to guarantee their livelihoods.

Haitians in government, the state, civil and political society, the business community and the diaspora must come together and tackle – with well-coordinated and generous donor support – nothing less than the building of a better, more prosperous and safer country. That can only be done through an integrated, long-term reconstruction strategy based on a very broad political and social consensus that also takes into account a number of pressing political and stabilisation issues. These include building a consensus on what to do about the postponed parliamentary elections, pending constitutional reforms and the forthcoming presidential polls, restoring security and rule of law, especially in the capital, and meeting immediate socio-economic needs, so as to reduce severe hardship among the population. A transparent and accountable multi-donor funding mechanism and an efficient Haitian government-led implementing structure have to be created.

The international community, including the UN Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH), the group of friends and the main donors, need to do everything in their power to support a recovery and reconstruction process that has to be Haitian-owned and Haitian-led. This includes overcoming past aid coordination problems, efficient allocation of technical support and expedited disbursement of funds. Actions by the government, MINUSTAH, the UN system and donors with respect to the emergency response, post-disaster stabilisation and reconstruction are all necessary – and urgent.

Resolve to build Haiti back better should be the outcome of the New York conference, including a joint commitment to reconstruction over at least a decade and a first round of pledges that match the magnitude of the past disaster and of the task ahead. The challenge is that great, but now is the moment to lift Haiti from under the dust and rubble and transform it into a less vulnerable and more equitable nation. The opportunity must not be lost.

Port-au-Prince/Bogotá/Brussels, 31 March 2010

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