Building a Better Haiti -- Recommendations by CWS and Christian Aid on the eve of the International Donors' Conference

Recommendations by Church World Service and Christian Aid on the eve of the International Donors' Conference "Towards a New Future for Haiti." Humanitarian agencies Church World Service and Christian Aid commend the government of Haiti's proposed Plan for Haiti Recovery and Reconstruction, particularly its recognition that Haitians need to be fully in charge of the country's rebuilding from the devastating January 12 earthquake.

PDF icon Konstwi yon Ayiti ki Meyè ("Building a Better Haiti," Creole translation)

Recommendations by CWS and Christian Aid on the eve of the International Donors' Conference "Towards a New Future for Haiti"

Humanitarian agencies Church World Service and Christian Aid commend the Governme

nt of Haiti's proposed Plan for Haiti Recovery and Reconstruction, particularly its recognition that Haitians need to be fully in charge of the country's rebuilding from the devastating January 12 earthquake.

However, together we are urging that any reconstruction plans aimed at "Building Back Haiti Better" would be strengthened by including or reinforcing the following requirements:

++ Building Ownership for a Sustainable Future:  Underlining any plan is the recognition that the hundreds of millions in dollars promised by donors need to be used not to reconstruct what existed in Haiti before the quake, but to create new and sustainably better lives for Haitians.  

The role of the Haitian state is crucial to that success, as is support from and active coordination with local Haitian civil society, members of the Haitian Diaspora, and the international community.


++ Building Local Empowerment and Transparency:  To ensure that Haiti and the Haitian people lead the reconstruction of their country, and to ensure efficient, effective collaboration and coordination, we encourage the creation of a core commission of respected Haitian citizens to oversee all work and ensure that the plan of action stays on course. The commission would represent a wide spectrum of civil society, with members who are seen as committed to the whole of Haitian society and not just individual sectors.

To guarantee a better Haiti, owned by Haitians, for future generations, local workers for immediate, short-term and long-term reconstruction work must be hired.


++ Building Food and Nutrition Security:  The Plan for Action does not go far enough in outlining strategies addressing the critical issues of food and nutrition security, problems that existed in Haiti before the earthquake.

More attention must be paid to investment in agriculture – a need that is more pertinent than ever. Any successful plan must include significantly expanded agricultural inputs throughout Haiti that include regionally-appropriate and climate-resilient seed strains, tools and technologies, and training in climate adaptive approaches and crop diversity.

On the critical issue of nutrition security for Haiti's most vulnerable populations, particularly pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five years of age -- who represent the country's future -- the Haiti plan must treat nutrition as an integral part of food security planning and solutions, not just as a health intervention for high-risk seasons. Provisions need to include:

  • Emphasis on the importance of producing diversified food crops for adequate dietary nutrition;
  • Ongoing community-based programs in nutrition education; and
  • Supplementation programs to treat malnutrition

Efforts must be made to strengthen the lives of those living in rural areas and to support existing, successful small holder farming communities so they can expand their farming and markets for regional food and economic security -- and to accommodate increased demand, as those from earthquake-impacted urban areas migrate to the countryside.

Efforts must also be made to improve the lives of urban poor. It cannot be expected that those who migrated to rural areas after the earthquake will all stay there and become farmers.

For the poor remaining in affected cities, supports to develop urban gardens should be part of a food security plan. But food security is not just about robust food production. It also requires building diverse sources of income for people in rural and urban settings.


++ Building Domestic Markets and Livelihoods:  The rebuilding of a sustainable and healthy Haiti must also include investments and strategies to support the planned growth of non-food industries, viable markets both domestic and foreign, and the jobs they create.

However, the primary objective of new business development within Haiti in both agricultural and non-food industries must be to help Haitians get back on their feet, not just to benefit foreign investors.


++ Building Women's Rights and Their Legacy:  We urge specific provisions that address the needs of women and children in the new Haiti, whose care and empowerment are the underpinnings of societal advancement. Those provisions should include:

  • On the issue of land rights, a focus on women's land tenure and property rights and their access to legal identity documents
  • Approaches to prevent and respond to gender-based violence against women
  • Programs to address the health needs of Haitian women
  • Approaches to address the educational needs for Haitian children

Recovery provisions also must be made to improve access to all public services for those with disabilities – an increased population given the numbers of those who were injured during and after the quake.


++ Build Regional Solidarity and Synergies:  Bi-national work between Haiti and the Dominican Republic should be encouraged, building on the extraordinary solidarity and public support shown to Haiti by its neighbor following the earthquake – efforts that have led to a greater sense of positive relations between two countries that have historically had strained relations.

We urge making joint DR/Haitian projects a priority, as well as the sharing of expertise across borders, training, and other mutual forms of support.

In addition, issues that have caused strained relations between the two countries in the past -- migration, the environment and sustainable development, monetary remittances, (sex) trafficking issues, and the need to allow and adhere to proper procedures in full respect of international law -- need to be addressed in a bi-national way with support from the international community.


++ Building Funding Flexibility:  Learning from previous large-scale disaster responses such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, donor flexibility is called for in timeframes and policies concerning the spending of relief funds, to avoid jeopardizing optimum stakeholders' coordination and collaboration and to prevent pressured or insufficiently planned responses.


++ Building Climate Adaptation and Reducing Disaster Risks:  Progressively sustainable reconstruction for Haiti must incorporate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation programs such as reforestation, to prevent repeated cycles of destruction, tragic loss of lives, and resulting setbacks to progress.


++ Building Possibility Based on Realities by Cancelling Haiti's Debts:  We urge continued and universal assurance that Haitian debt is cancelled and that grants, not loans, are provided to Haiti in its time of need.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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