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Discussion on Haiti Reconstruction with Dr. Brimmer via DVC
April 25, 2010

April 23, 2010

DVC with Geneva on Haiti Recovery and Reconstruction

Opening Statement

Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer

Good afternoon in Geneva. I want to thank everyone for participating in this event on Haiti and welcome Haitian Chargé d’Affairs Jean-Claude Pierre.

I want thank Ambassador Betty King and the U.S. Mission in Geneva for organizing this discussion. Ambassador King is one of our nation’s finest diplomats, I am sure you already know that, and we are thrilled she is in Geneva representing the United States.

Unfortunately – as you know I am in the same situation as many European, American and international travelers given this week’s difficulties. It is good to see that airports in Europe have reopened and flights are taking off.

Despite not being in Geneva, it is important that we discuss the recovery and reconstruction process in Haiti, three months after the earthquake and three weeks after the Donors’ Conference in New York.

Today’s discussion is also an opportunity to highlight the Government of Haiti’s lead role in this process, and to underscore the close cooperation the United States has had with the UN system and other international organization as we help Haiti recover and rebuild.

Over the past three months there has been a strong outpouring of international support for Haiti. We have a lot to show for our efforts – however we know more must be done to help Haitians recover. Over 140 nations, in cooperation with the Haitian government and the UN system, have provided immediate assistance and relief to millions of Haitians including, temporary shelter, food, sanitation, education and medical assistance. For example:

A. The UN’s shelter “cluster” has succeeded in providing emergency shelter material to 96 percent of the known caseload of 1.3 million individuals, and is on track to reach 100 percent by May 1. This is good news, but we need to address the next set of challenges, including preparing for the rainy and hurricane seasons, and in the medium-term moving Haitians from temporary to permanent shelter.

B. MINUSTAH and JTF-Haiti are focused in a massive effort to help thousands of IDPs relocate from areas prone to flooding to safer areas designated by the GOH.

C. Over 3.5 million people have received food assistance, and more than 1.3 million people have access to potable water.

D. 510,000 people have been provided with hygiene kits, and over 500,000 have been vaccinated against common diseases.

E. Schools are re-opening – some 75 percent of Haitian children enrolled in school prior to the earthquake have now returned to their studies. The GOH and UNESCO have developed a new curriculum for 600,000 of these students, which takes into account the trauma they have endured.

F. Some 28 in-patient stabilization centers and 126 out-patient therapeutic feeding centers have opened, to combat severe malnutrition.

Despite progress, the need for emergency assistance remains, funding of the UN Flash Appeal has slowed, and some issues will require our immediate attention.

A. Protect women and children from sexual and gender-based violence in the camps sheltering the internally displaced. (The United States looks forward to reviewing MINUSTAH’s finalized Joint Security Assessment and its recommendations.)

B. Help displaced persons, ensure those that can return to their homes do so, or to working with the Haitian Government to resolve land tenure issues for those that must be resettled in hazard free areas (We must all communicate with one voice on finding durable solutions – whether that means effective communication or inducements.)

C. Assist the Government of Haiti in developing a governance strategy to support rule of law, transparency and institution building.

D. The approach of hurricane season means we must ensure that the need for transitional shelters is met before that time.

Reconstruction plans will mean little if present humanitarian needs and pledges (UN Flash appeal) are not being met.

Funding of the UN Flash Appeal has slowed recently, and coverage has hovered slightly over 50 percent for the last few weeks [53.6 percent as of April 20].

Attending the Haiti Donors’ Conference at the end of March, I saw firsthand the same overwhelming show of support for the people and Government of Haiti. More than 60 countries and institutions pledged to assist Haiti during its long-term recovery process.

The conference yielded close to $10 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction. Of this amount, more than $5 billion was pledged for 2010 and 2011 – exceeding the target of $3.9 billion. The United States pledged $1.15 billion over the next two years, expressing our strong support for Haiti’s long-term recovery.

Donors will be guided by several key principles: The recovery effort will be Haitian-led, inclusive, accountable and transparent, coordinated, results-oriented, and sustainable.

All pledges are publicly available on the Internet, to allocate and manage resources in a transparent and accountable manner, and to establish robust tracking and evaluation systems to assess performance and measure results.

At the conference, the donors agreed to:

A. Support the vision and Action Plan presented by the Haitian Government.

B. Agreed to deliver assistance in a manner that strengthens the authority of the State, makes local governments more effective, mitigates vulnerability to future disasters, protects the environment, promotes human rights and gender equality, and creates an enabling environment for the private sector and civil society to thrive.

C. Reaffirmed that all Haitians must be included in the long-term recovery efforts, and recognized that women’s leadership and participation are critical.

D. Build Haiti back better.

Build back better means focusing on reducing Haiti’s vulnerability to future disasters by incorporating disaster risk reduction and mitigation principles and environmental protection as new buildings are built to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural hazards.

Building back a better Haiti also means; ensuring human rights, greater economic, political and social opportunities for all Haitians, addressing security needs, and creating the conditions conducive for civil society and the economy to thrive.

We must ensure that a mechanism for quality control of reconstruction investments is part of the process of review for all reconstruction projects, and that Haitians have access to better building materials, training and incentives to use improved construction methods.

In closing, I want to highlight the importance of sustained international support for Haiti. We have to make donor pledges a reality and get the long-term recovery and development effort underway, even as the humanitarian relief effort continues.

Donors recognize that this is a long-term effort. The chairs and co-chairs of the conference in New York intend to meet at least twice a year to monitor the implementation of the pledges and Haiti’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development.

The Haitian Government is acting quickly to set up the Interim Haitian Reconstruction Commission to coordinate and deploy resources and respond to concerns about accountability and transparency in order to maximize donor support.

The Commission will give its approval to project proposals that comply with the Plan, and prepare and seek out projects compatible with the Plan’s priorities. It is the key decision-making body on setting priorities, identifying projects and sequencing their implementation.

The United States, the UN, and the international community, are invested in Haiti’s long-term success, and will be with the Haitian government and people every step of the way. Clearly there is more to discuss, however I will close right there. I welcome your questions and comments.

Thank you.