The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator today reported that two years after a powerful earthquake devastated Haiti, significant progress has been made, particularly over the past year.
“There is much left to do, and the success of Haiti’s recovery will ultimately be up to the Haitians themselves. The United States Government (USG) and its international partners are working closely with the Government of Haiti (GOH) to improve conditions for people throughout the country and create prospects for a better future.” -Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator stated that the earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12, 2010, was the worst natural disaster in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians were killed or injured; an estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless or displaced; and more than 300,000 buildings, including many schools, hospitals, and government offices, were destroyed or severely damaged.
“The human cost was staggering, and material losses totaled 120 percent of Haiti’s 2009 Gross Domestic Product. In the days, weeks and months following, the United States and others launched the largest international humanitarian response ever undertaken. In the course of the year, as the most immediate crisis needs were met, the balance of assistance shifted increasingly to reconstruction and development.” – Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator cited that in 2011, Haitians elected a president and members of parliament. Following several months of negotations, the National Assembly approved a prime minister, who in turn presented the government’s program and a full slate of ministers.
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator noted that Haitians now have a new government in place to make the challenging decisions necessary for the country’s recovery. President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Garry Conille have made it clear that working as a team with international donors, including the USG, is a priority.
“The USG and its international partners are implementing programs in four sectors or pillars in Haiti including: 1) infrastructure and energy; 2) food and economic security; 3) health and other basic services; and 4) governance, rule of law and security. In each of those areas, progress has been made over the past 12 months.” -Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator cited the USG has committed investments in excess of $400 million to help the Haitian people build the productive base from which Haiti can grow and prosper. The investments are supplemented by an additional $400 million from the IDB, World Bank and the private sector that will join USG partnership initiatives in energy, ports, housing and industrial development.
“Approximately 60 percent of the population works in agriculture, a vital element of Haiti’s economy. As part of our Feed the Future initiative, the USG is implementing a robust agricultural program that is raising yields through the introduction of improved farming techniques.” – Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator stressed that in 2011, the agriculture program reached approximately 10,000 farmers. Through the program, Haitians have achieved significant increases in crop yields over pre-earthquake baselines: Hybrid corn yields were up 338 percent for imported seeds and 216 percent for local seeds; beans were up 97 percent; plantains up 21percent.
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator stressed that the most significant developments in Haiti’s political environment over the past twelve months were the holding of national elections and the installation of a president, prime minister and parliament.
“Organizing elections in Haiti has always been a complex and costly endeavor. The inherent challenges associated with this process were compounded by the realities of a post-earthquake environment. The USG provided over $15 million to support the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections.” -Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator noted that issues that could complicate Haiti’s reconstruction remain. There are still significant challenges to address in Haiti’s reconstruction. Economic development to create jobs for Haitians will be key to the country’s future, and that in turn will require the political will to ensure good governance.
“The project is a multi-year one. Nevertheless, two years into a long-term commitment, the United States can point to progress in helping Haiti set out on a better path.” -Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator