Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Haiti looks for more from donors

Haiti is holding a one day conference today with other governments and non-governmental organizations that provide aid to the country. The country suffers from very low food aid and a medical system that is inoperable. A five month government crisis and tropical storms made the medical and food systems suffer.

From the Miami Herald, reporter Jacqueline Charles explains the purpose of the meeting in Haiti.

Millions of dollars in the hole, the Caribbean nation is seeking $125 million to plug a budget shortfall and $2 billion toward a three-year poverty-reduction plan.

''The plan,'' Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis told Haitians last week in a national radio address, ``doesn't cover all of the country's needs. But it opens the door for the country to move forward.''

The plan includes new roads and schools, renovations of existing hospitals and revitalization of the country's agriculture, which suffered millions of dollars in losses following last summer's back-to-back hurricanes and tropical storms. The storms came in the midst of a nearly five-month political crisis, triggered by the firing of the former prime minister after rising fuel and food prices on the world market sparked deadly food riots.

In hopes of having donors give, despite the global economic slump and Haiti donor fatigue, the country has promised a new paradigm of cooperation.

''Success at donors conferences is typically measured by how much money is raised. We expect that more aid will be forthcoming, and we're even helping the Haitian government reach out to potential new donors, such as countries in the Gulf region and private foundations,'' said Dora Currea, manager of the Inter-American Development Bank's Caribbean Department. ``But this meeting is more about agreeing on a common vision, shared development priorities, coordination and partnership.''

The conference, which is a year overdue, was initially supposed to tackle improving international coordination between the Haitian government and the hundreds of private, nongovernmental organizations working on the ground in the poverty-stricken nation.

But with Haiti's relative stability at stake following last year's deadly food riots, a political impasse and back-to-back storms that left nearly $1 billion in damage, the gathering quickly became a fundraising effort by a government desperately seeking money for roads, hospitals and 150,000 jobs through investments in manufacturing and other areas.

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