In late June, the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti released a report urging the international community to continue assisting the Government of Haiti as it strives to create jobs and ramp up the nation’s economy. By supporting the Haitian Government, we ensure the country’s people and institutions have the basic resources needed to rebuild the country in a sustainable and significant way.
“To revitalize Haitian institutions, we must channel money through them,” states the report, entitled “Has Aid Changed: Channeling assistance to Haiti before and after the earthquake.”
Paul Farmer, Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti and cofounder of Partners In Health, writes in the report’s foreword, “This is the best way to ensure the strengthening of public systems, improved management of resources, increased accountability between the Government and its citizens, and greater collective impact of our efforts.”
“Perhaps most important, it will create jobs and build skills for the Haitian people,” he writes.
Headed by former United States president Bill Clinton and Paul Farmer, the Office’s most recent report assesses the effectiveness of post-earthquake aid delivered to Haiti.
After being devastated by a massive earthquake, the international community pledged significant financial resources for both the relief and recovery efforts to Haiti. Yet, the transition between relief aid – funds responding to the immediate after effects of the quake – and long-term recovery aid has moved slower than expected.
Over the past year, donors have disbursed more than $1.74 billion for recovery activities, but over half – $2.84 billion – of what was pledged for 2010 and 2011 remains in donors’ hands.
The report highlights the fact that approximately 99 percent of post-quake relief aid was disbursed to humanitarian agencies, NGOs, and private contractors. This circumvention makes “the already challenging task of moving from relief to recovery…almost impossible,” states the report.
Only one percent of relief aid was distributed to the Haitian Government – the democratically elected public entity most capable of producing jobs and initiating the massive rebuilding effort facing the nation.
As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently noted, important progress has been achieved since January 2010. Yet Haiti continues to face daunting challenges, including a struggling economy, high unemployment and public institutions that are barely able to deliver essential services.
“We have heard from the Haitian people time and again that creating jobs and supporting the Government to ensure access to basic services are essential to restoring dignity,” states the report.
“And we have learned that in order to make progress in these two areas we need to directly invest in Haitian people and their public and private institutions,” writes Farmer in the report’s foreword.
The report urges the international community to invest a much greater proportion of its resources directly in the Haitian public and private sectors.
The Office of the Special Envoy says it will continue to explore innovative ways that donors can channel assistance to Haiti in order to “truly accompany the Haitian Government and its citizens in their efforts to build back better.”