Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Haiti donors conference tomorrow

Tomorrow the United Nations will host delegates of over 100 countries to talk about Haiti. The UN hopes to gather more pledges of aid to rebuild Haiti from the countries attending the meeting. Many of the countries are willing to pledge more money, but wonder if Haiti can handle the money correctly.

From the Miami Herald, reporter Jacqueline Charles, gets some quotes from possible donors and frustrated Haitians.

“There is a lot of goodwill to give money. That's not the problem,'' said Ciro De Falco, coordinator of the Inter-American Development Bank's Haiti Task Force. ``The real challenge is execution, implementation.''

The Washington-based IDB recently became the latest in a string of donors including the United States, to forgive much of Haiti's $1.2 billion in foreign debt after the Jan. 12, 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Concerned that Haiti may not be able to spend all of the $11.5 billion it says it needs over the next 18 months to rebuild -- or that nations may be unwilling to provide as much -- donors have set a target of $3.9 billion.

``I have always said, `You can put all the money you want into a country, but you are not going to reach sustainable growth until you have all of the appropriate institutions and rules of the game: people can borrow, people can settle disputes, companies are assured they can take out profits,'' De Falco added. ``All of these things need to be put in place in order to have success.''

``We've never had someone who stood up and ask us, `What do we want for Haiti?'' Clifford Stellot, a grassroots activist in Port-au-Prince said recently.
Jocelyn McCalla, a former head of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights in New York, understands his fellow Haitians' pessimism.

``They have felt unempowered for so long that they can't believe that their time has come, that the world is ready to do their bidding,'' said McCalla, now senior adviser to Leslie Voltaire, the Haitian government official who serves as liasion to Clinton's U.N. office.

If Haitians are weary of believing that the New York gathering could transform Haiti, it is because it feels like an old familiar movie with a not so happy ending.
Last year after much fanfare, donors meeting in Washington pledged $519 million in foreign aid to Haiti. By the time the quake struck, killing more than 200,000 and toppling an equal number of buildings, only 12 percent had been disbursed, according to Clinton's U.N. office.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/29/v-fullstory/1554320/donors-willing-is-haiti-able.html#ixzz0jfNlQ0wb

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