Haiti: Two Years Later
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.
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. The report Haiti: One Year Later, which can be found at www.state.gov/s/hsc/rls/154255.htm, details the results of those efforts as of January 2011. This document highlights developments since the earthquake, with a focus on the past 12 months.
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. 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.
Pillar I: Infrastructure and Energy
In response to the earthquake, 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. These 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. Together those projects stand to transform Haiti’s economy and create a new set of opportunities.
The USG broke ground in October on a new settlement in Haiti’s North to offer housing for around eight thousand people in line with Haiti’s vision to draw families away from the overcrowded capital. This is one of several such housing developments implemented jointly with the IDB and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In energy, the USG partnered with the GOH, the World Bank and the IDB to modernize Haiti’s inefficient public utility ‘EDH’, which was been identified as a national priority two decades ago. The GOH has appointed new Haitian leadership and an internationally respected turnaround management team funded by the USG. In the first three months, the new management has helped the utility company improve its operations, its transparency and its fiscal efficiency, identifying more than $1.6 million in monthly savings. The new management will not only improve and expand services, but also help reduce the substantial government subsidy for EDH’s operations, freeing those resources for other critical needs. Another big constraint to the economy is Haiti’s costly and inefficient ports sector. To raise the island’s competitiveness as a regional trading partner, the USG is completing the feasibility study for a competitively bid public-private partnership for a modern container port in northern Haiti, two sailing days from Miami.
Throughout our investments in Haiti, the USG followed closely the principles of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and the Framework for Aid Effectiveness laid out at the High-Level Summit in Busan, South Korea. The Caracol Industrial Park, a $300 million public-private partnership among a diverse set of stakeholders to establish the necessary infrastructure for a globally competitive 250 hectares full-service industrial park, demonstrates this. Encouraged by increased U.S. trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act adopted May 2010 by the U.S. Congress, Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A committed to create 20,000 direct jobs and invest $78 million over six years to build a leading-edge manufacturing complex with on-site fabric mills, printing and embroidery. An estimated total of 65,000 direct jobs could be created with the arrival of other tenants, with additional jobs expected for vendors, repair shops, farmers and other small businesses. The Park is scheduled to open in March 2012.
The partnership highlights what can be accomplished if donors provide Haitian experts with the resources they need. The project is led top to bottom by Haiti’s Technical Execution Unit in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who not only conducted the competitive international bidding, but also implemented a broad USG-sponsored information campaign that introduced this transformative investment to the local population. The Park, which includes housing, electrification, schools and health facilities for nearby communities, along with investments in ports, environmental preservation and vocational training, is one of the largest investments in Haiti’s history and currently the country’s biggest construction site.
The USG has continued to respond to rebuilding needs and has been active in the housing sector, which President Martelly has identified as a priority. As of December 2011, nearly 50 percent of the 10 million cubic meters of rubble created by the earthquake had been removed. By that same date, the USG has removed more than 2.2 million cubic meters of rubble or 44 percent of the total amount removed, and has provided temporary employment to thousands of Haitians in the process. The USG has also, as of January 2012, constructed 28,600 temporary shelters (t-shelters) housing approximately 143,600 people. The USG has financed the repair of 6,000 damaged houses (yellow houses) to shelter 40,500 people, and has trained more than 1,000 Haitian engineers and masons in damage assessment and repair techniques as part of yellow house repair efforts. The USG has also supported more than 136,000 people in hosting situations.
The neighbor return process has been hindered by a lack of accurate records of land ownership. A USG-financed community enumeration program has, as of mid-November 2011, identified ownership of 8,830 plots, to the benefit of 44,150 Haitians. As a result of these and other efforts, the number of Haitians living in camps has been reduced from a peak of 1.5 million in summer 2010 to an estimated 519,000 as of January 2012.
Food and Economic Security
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. 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. Yields for rice under the System of Rice Intensification, where less water, fewer seeds and less fertilizer are used, were 64 percent higher.
Extension services supported by the USG reached more than 9,000 Haitian farmers, focusing on such crops as beans, corn, rice, sorghum, potatoes, leeks and plantains. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the USG increased the output of 8,750 farmers by an average of 75 percent, generating $14.4 million of gross margins for farmers. More than 600 trained Master Farmers are sharing skills to improve agriculture in their communities. In some cases, these superior farming techniques can be as straightforward as an improved method for harvesting and packing mangoes that reduces crop loss.
Agricultural sector assistance from the USG also funded the planting of nearly 1.5 million fruit and forest trees, placed 10,000 hectares of land under improved natural resource management, rehabilitated 18 km of road, and trained more than 10,000 people ―including 2,500 cacao farmers through 128 farmer field schools. Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USG is providing technical assistance to the GOH Ministry of Agriculture, conducting 10 planning missions with the ministry to identify areas for potential collaboration.
In 2011, USG-funded programs worked on 17 ravine treatment and river bank strengthening projects to protect productive plains in USG development corridors, stabilizing more than 44 hectares of hillsides. A major flood protection achievement was the completion of the widening of the La Quinte River. As a result of this supported intervention, no major flooding occurred in the Gonaives plain during the 2011 rainy and hurricane season, thus averting the customary seasonal damage to farming in the region.
Improved technology and increased skills are also helping Haitians build economic security. Working in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the $15 million Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI) was established to enable Haitians the ability to send, receive and store money using their mobile phones. Mobile money and the accompanying banking services can unlock economic potential for a broad spectrum of Haiti’s population. As of November 2011, the HMMI had verified more than 100,000 transactions.
Improving Haiti’s economy is the best long-term foundation for food security. At present, however, thousands of Haitians still remain vulnerable to hunger. USG food assistance projects―including food vouchers, food for work, health promotion, and agriculture and resource management―reached more than 3.5 million people in 2011.
Health and Other Basic Services
Even before the earthquake, Haiti’s health indicators were the worst in the Western Hemisphere. According to Ministry of Public Health and Population estimates, 40 percent of the population had no access to basic health services, and access to tertiary care was extremely limited. One in 14 Haitian children dies before his or her fifth birthday. Immunization coverage, at just over 50 percent, is well below the World Health Organization goal of 90percent. The appearance of cholera in Haiti in October 2010 complicated an already challenging public health situation.
As of November 2011 the USG continues to provide access to health care for approximately 50 percent of Haiti’s population via 251 sites for primary care and 52 for secondary care. Screening pregnant women for HIV reached an all-time high, with nearly 170,000 women tested. As of November 2011, USG-funded programs have helped immunize more than 156,700 Haitian children under one against highly communicable diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).
To detect disease early, building monitoring networks has been a key element of for USG assistance, and efforts in this area predate the earthquake. Skilled personnel are key to such networks, and the USG had trained more than 570 medical providers and 6,020 community health care workers at 127 locations as of mid-2011in medical care, disease prevention and response. Their efforts, along with the USG’s contribution of $73 million to the Haitian-led international campaign to prevent and treat cholera, helped to mitigate the impact of the cholera outbreak and bring the 2-week rolling average case fatality rate down from nine percent at the start of the outbreak to 0.56 percent. Future efforts will help sustain prevention and control methods until Haiti’s underlying water and sanitation situation can be permanently improved.
New investments through USG- funded programs will construct or renovate and equip important health infrastructure such as the Haitian State University Hospital and facilities in 9-12 communal health referral networks strategically selected to establish services in new settlements for those displaced by the earthquake. The USG will be rebuilding the Haitian State University Hospital and its neighbor, the Haitian State University Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy and School of Medical Technology, all of which collapsed in the earthquake. The agreement includes supporting governance and management reform.
USG assistance in providing basic services has resulted in increased physical access in 17 primary schools for people with disabilities and has funded the training to 150 teachers and school principals on inclusive education. The USG has also funded the construction of more than 600 classrooms, allowing more than 60,000 students to return to school. Despite the earthquake occurring midway through the program, 13,000 youth successfully completed USG-funded vocational training, with the youth successfully transitioning to formal school, further vocational training or other opportunities.
Governance, Rule of Law and Security
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. Mismanagement and voting irregularities characterized both rounds of elections, although the second round was more peaceful and better organized than the first round. While imperfect, these elections were nonetheless followed by a peaceful transfer of power from one elected civilian government to another, a rarity in Haiti’s history. Haiti’s new government has made clear its interest in working with the USG and other key donors. President-elect Martelly’s first foreign travel was to Washington in April 2011, where he discussed ways to focus his administration’s agenda on key instruments of good governance.
In September 2011, the USG awarded a five-year cooperative agreement for the implementation of a new parliamentary-strengthening program. This $14.6 million award seeks to strengthen the organizational and administrative capacity of both houses of the Haitian Parliament – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate – and to assist elected members to better fulfill their constitutionally-mandated representative, legislative and oversight roles. The program began in mid-October with a participatory design process. The new program builds upon the previous “Support to the Parliament of Haiti Program,” which ended in September 2011. It will also work in close coordination with the U.S. House Democracy Partnership and other donors that are providing ongoing technical assistance to the Haitian Parliament to maximize synergies among these initiatives. On November 21, 2011, Haitian and U.S. officials cut the ribbon on the USG-funded, steel-framed temporary quarters for the parliament. This facility will temporarily replace the former parliament building, which collapsed during the earthquake, providing over 22,000 square feet of space to house plenary sessions and offices. The three-building complex is designed to last until a new permanent structure can be completed.
Building on a model that demonstrated success around the world, the USG is in the process of establishing a Fulbright Program for Haiti. It will fund four participants in 2012, with a plan to expand in coming years. The participants selected for the program will be assigned to a government ministry in Haiti, and will assist in capacity building by working alongside Haiti’s government employees.
The USG has also been working closely with the Martelly administration on key justice and law enforcement issues. The USG took part in three working groups in summer 2011 to provide President Martelly and his justice team with recommendations on standing up the Superior Judicial Council, establishing a Judicial Inspection Unit and reorganizing the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The USG has also provided significant support to the Haitian presidential commission revising the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedures Code, including technical expertise on statutory language. On the critical issue of pre-trial detention, which contributes to prison overcrowding and human rights abuses, the USG has been working to reconstruct case files destroyed in earthquake and provide legal aid to detainees. The USG helped expedite 417 pretrial detention cases, 50 of which resulted in release.
Over the past year, the USG has trained more than 450 Haitian National Police (HNP) officers from the Cite Soleil commissariat (police station) on a broad range of law enforcement subjects, such as crisis intervention, human rights and ethics, use of force, weapons maintenance, police station security, and handgun takeaway and retention. The USG is also working with the HNP to develop an ad campaign to attract more female recruits to the force. As part of a four-commissariat building program in the Port-au-Prince district of Martissant, the USG completed the construction of two commissariats and began construction of two more in November 2011. These facilities will permit an increase of HNP presence in Martissant and enable the HNP to devote greater resources to combating the influence of criminal gangs in the community.
Issues that could complicate Haiti’s reconstruction remain. The lapse of the legislative mandate of the main vehicle for donor coordination, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), requires the establishment of other mechanisms to target and monitor foreign assistance. Local elections to replace mayors, communal section and communal assembly officials, whose terms expired in 2011, as well as elections for one-third of the Senate, will need to be held in 2012, and Haiti’s political environment has traditionally been volatile. President Martelly’s pledge to re-establish the Haitian army could, depending on its implementation, potentially compete for resources needed for capacity building elsewhere in the Haitian government.
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.