Haiti 2010 Earthquake Response

What Haiti needs for a successful recovery

In recent discussions of plans for Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery, a critical element has been missing:  participation by the primary stakeholders, the Haitian people.  Monika Kalra Varma, director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, and Loune Viaud, director of strategic planning and operations at Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health in Haiti, say the fact that Haitians have never had a seat at the table explains why past and present aid efforts have seldom been successful.

While Haitian resilience has been duly recognized around the world, few appear to be interested in talking to Haitians about how to rebuild their communities and how the billions likely to be pledged to their country will be used. And no one is talking about what recourse Haitians will have if promised projects are never completed, or worse, pledged money never arrives. [Boston Globe]

But. in ad hoc tent cities, Haitians are already demonstrating their ability to govern themselves.  In many of the camps, leaders and committees are managing activities from food distribution to sanitation to security, and some issue identification cards.

Many times, the best way aid international organizations can help the Haitian people will be, simply, to get out of their way.

Human rights experts are expected to visit Haiti March 9-12 to assess the human rights and aid situation, in preparation for a March 23 hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The groups are recommending “a rights-based approach… Donor states should act with full transparency and accountability, making information about their plans and programmes available to all, and should work with the Haitian government to set up public monitoring and reporting mechanisms.”

The capacity of the Haitian government to budget, disburse funds, and implement projects in a transparent way should be a high priority, the groups say. They are also recommending the creation of a “public web-based database to report and track donor pledges, disbursed funds, recipients, sector areas, and expected outcomes under the aegis of the Multi-Donor Fund.”

The groups also call for prioritization of programs that help women and children, the disabled, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

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