It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

Mwen se echantiyon yon ras kap boujonnen men ki poko donnen

Si vous voulez vous faire des ennemis essayer de changer les choses

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Haitian-Free Rebuilding Plan? by Stanley Lucas

Over the past 25 years, rampant political violence and an almost totally corrupt business and economic system have kept Haiti's Diaspora from being able to engage in any meaningful efforts to improve their country.There are more than two million Haitians living in the U.S., another one million in the Dominican Republic and 700,000 in Canada.Their engagement with Haiti has been limited to sending $1.8 billion in remittances to family and friends each year, which accounts for almost 20% of Haiti's GDP. 

Most have been marginalized from doing business because they are not a part of the corrupt business elite in Haiti. Known as the Groupe de Bourdon and linked to the Preval Government, this Groupe has had a stranglehold on the economy. Others have been marginalized for their efforts to promote democracy, good governance, political participation and accountability in-country.

Haitians who are not a part of this corrupt elite have, for the most part, fled the country to seek opportunity elsewhere causing a massive "brain drain." These people are, forthe most part,well-educated, hard workingqualified people who could make a real contribution to building the economy and political landscape of the country. They are doctors, lawyers, business leaders and civil servants. They have been forced to sit on the sidelines as their country has been driven into the ground by a series of corrupt leaders.

The disastrous January 12 earthquake highlighted the total impotence of the Haitian government. In spite of the tragedy, many observers are cautiously optimistic that the rebuilding process could be a turning point for the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.Even President Preval was quoted as saying he wants to see a new Haiti -- a totally different country. This is ironic as he has been intimately involved in bringing the country to its knees during his first term in office from 1996-2001, and over the past three years of his second term.

The discussions around rebuilding, however, have not stoked this cautious optimism because they have almost completely neglected Haitian input. The UN and the U.S. -- as one of the leading donors -- will play a central role in the reconstruction. The U.S. State Department and former President Bill Clinton have begun to draft several redevelopment scenarios and have shared them with the Haitian Government.

Clinton and the head of the International Monetary Fund have been calling for a Marshall Plan for Haiti. In their view, there should be a foreign-led reconstruction effort. Foreign governments, companies and NGOs should lead the rebuilding with foreign investment. With Clinton in control of the vast amount of aid money earmarked for Haiti, he seems to be in a position to implement what he thinks is best for the country. 

But what about what is best for the Haitian people? A plan like the one being discussed currently flies in the face of all development theory for three reasons -- This plan replaces the "client" by not seeking Haitian input,it promotes the same failed approach to international aid in Haiti, and It fundamentally misinterprets why the Marshall Plan was successful.

According to Andrew Natsios, former head of USAID under President Clinton, you cannot replace the "client" or the nationals. They need to develop and implement their own plan for development to succeed. Without the buy-in of the people, a plan will fail. Reaching out to the Haitian Government in this case, does not check the box of coordinating with the nationals. The Haitian people have lost what little confidence they had in the Preval Administration,which can hardly been seen as representative of the people. What is being discussed is bordering on colonialism.

There has also been much discussion about the vast amounts of international aid that has gone into the country with nothing to show for it. See here for more on the international aid debacle in Haiti for he past 15 years.Much of this can be blamed on widespread corruption in the country and the fact that Haitian leaders have pilfered vast sums from the public coffers and fled the country. Jean Claude Duvalier absconded with $600 million and Jean Bertrand Aristide left with another $350 million according to Haiti's General Accounting Office. None of those stolen funds have been recovered. But there is also plenty of blame to be placed on the ineffectiveness of the aid programs that have been operating in-country unsuccessfully for decades. We do not need more of the same.However, more of the same is exactly what is being called for by the powers that be, bothin the US and at the UN.

For those using the analogy of a Marshall Plan after WWI, foreign governments, NGOs, and multilateral institutions did not rebuild Europe. The Dean of the Columbia Business School, Glen Hubbard, pointed out in a recent op-ed in the Financial Times that the success of the Marshall Plan was due in large part to empowering local businesses to rebuild their country. Clearly, Haiti's business sector was limping along prior to the earthquake, and has been all but decimated since.However, this is where the Haitian Diaspora community's experience should be leveraged. They understand the culture. They are Haitian. And they can inspire confidence among their own people.After the Preval Administration's total mismanagement of the country, it is hardly conceivable that this Haitian Government and its corrupt allies are in a position to make an informed decision on how to reconstruct the country.

In fact, there is a high-profile initiative afoot among the Haitian Diaspora community. Working with the OAS, more than 200 Haitian Diaspora organizations representing millions of overseas Haitians are coming together in Washington, D.C. early next month to work together to develop a reconstruction plan for their country. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is aware of this initiative, and has been invited to participate in the conference. Yet the State Department and the international community has completely neglected to factor in their contribution. None of the Diaspora community has been invited into the U.S. and UN rebuilding dialogue. The Diaspora groups have demonstrated a strong, patriotic willingness to return and rebuild.But why would they do this if they are marginalized again -- this time by international actors and foreign companies?

Many observers have used the mismanagement of international aid as an excuse for the international community to come in and manage Haiti. It is, after all, their money being used to rebuild. But what they neglect to account for is this vast untapped pool of talent among the Diaspora willing to return to the country and rebuild it into the vibrant, developing country they know it can be.

Obama's plan to rebuild Haiti has the Clinton imprint attached

By Jacqueline Charles, McClatchy Newspapers
Stars and Stripes online edition, Thursday, February 11, 2010

MIAMI — The Obama administration is quietly advocating a plan to reconstruct Haiti after the crippling Jan. 12 earthquake that could involve an even more central role for former President Bill Clinton.

The plan, designed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's staff and presented to top Haitian officials in recent days, calls for the creation of an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, or IHRC, to oversee the "urgent early recovery" over the next 18 months.

The commission's top priority: create a Haitian Development Authority to plan and coordinate billions in foreign assistance for at least 10 years.

The plan, obtained by The Miami Herald, states that the commission could be co-chaired by the Haitian prime minister and "a distinguished senior international figure engaged in the recovery effort."

Haiti observers believe the job description describes Clinton although he's not named in the document. The United Nations has already named him to coordinate its reconstruction efforts.

"I think he's a good choice if he can commit himself to doing the job," said Robert Maguire, a Haiti expert who is a professor at Trinity Washington University and Chair of the U.S. Institute of Peace's Haiti Working Group. "He seems to be a logical choice, someone with a deep commitment, connections and the trust of most, if not all of the players."

Clinton could not be reached for comment.

Sources familiar with the plan say it was presented to Haitian President Rene Preval during Clinton's visit last weekend, and it was endorsed by Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. Mills traveled to Haiti with Clinton in their second visit to the Caribbean nation since the earthquake.

A State Department spokesman declined comment, pointing instead to the secretary of state's comments about the importance of transparency and accountability in Haiti's reconstruction.

The administration's plan is among several that have been floated over the last week to Haitian government officials. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive called a meeting of international partners in Haiti to discuss the various proposals.

Washington's proposal comes a month before international donors are scheduled to meet in New York to raise billions to help rebuild a country that in less than a minute lost more than 250,000 buildings, including private homes, schools, hospitals and government offices.

The cost to rebuild Haiti remains elusive but economist Jeffrey Sachs estimated that the country's recovery needs could tally about $3.5 billion annually over the next four to five years to cover reconstruction, social assistance, development, peacekeeping and justice.

In recent years, the country has received about $1.2 billion in foreign aid, half of which has gone to peacekeeping and just 25 percent — $30 per Haitian citizen — for development.

Led by Bellerive, the government is expected to present its development plan during the conference. Donor nations and financial institutions have been jockeying behind the scenes to influence the reconstruction blueprint. Their suggestions have included various versions of the Washington plan.

For example, Canada is considering advocating for a trust fund managed by the World Bank. The idea, also outlined in Washington's proposal, calls for donors to channel funding through a single multi-donor trust fund. Sachs, who does not support the Washington plan, is pushing for the Inter-American Development Bank to manage a similar trust fund.

"We should not see this as a U.S. political effort but a multi-lateral one," he said. "It clearly should be the Haitian government alone. It shouldn't have a mixed membership of the president and international figures."

Preval has not publicly commented on the proposals although he made a vague reference to the Washington plan on Saturday to a group of visiting Caribbean leaders.

Bellerive, who has called for greater donor coordination on Haiti, told The Miami Herald that the Washington plan is "very close to what is needed to ensure transparency, efficiency and a leadership role of the Haitian government."

But the final decision rests with Preval, who could form the interim recovery commission by decree.

The plan outlines the structure of the interim commission, which gives the Haitian president veto power. It also solicits advice from donors and experts in Haiti and the diaspora.

Maguire, who has not read the State Department document, said the plan sounds similar to an idea that Hillary Clinton was considering long before the earthquake. Her office has sought over the past several months to better coordinate assistance to Haiti, which remains impoverished despite billions of dollars in foreign aid.

"I think there is an approaching chaos of people getting involved in the reconstruction of Haiti, people who just want to make decisions on their own or people who want to profiteer from this," Maguire said. "There is a desperate need for some sort of decision-making entity and it's clear the government of Haiti needs re-enforcement."

Organizations Collecting Money for Haiti

Providing Basic Needs:
 ActionAid USA 
 Adventist Development and Relief Agency 
 American Jewish World Services 
 American Red Cross 
 Beyond Borders 
 Catholic Relief Services 
 Church World Service 
 Clinton Bush Haiti Fund 
 Concern Worldwide 
 Episcopal Relief & Development 
 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 
 Feed the Children 
 God's Littlest Angels 
 International Relief Teams 
 International Rescue Committee 
 Islamic Relief USA 
 Jean R. Cadet Restavek Foundation 
 Kids Alive International 
 Life for Relief and Development 
 Lions Clubs International 
 Love a Child 
 Lutheran World Relief 
 Mercy & Sharing 
 Mercy Corps 
 Operation Blessing International 
 Oxfam America 
 Population Services International 
 Presbyterian Disaster Assistance 
 Project Hope 
 Salesian Missions 
 Samaritan's Purse 
 Save The Children 
 St. Boniface Haiti Foundation 
 United Nations Foundation/CERF 
 United Way Worldwide 
 World Concern 
 World Hope International 
 World Neighbors 
 World Relief 
 World Vision 
 Yéle Haiti 

Providing Shelter: 
 CHF International 
 Habitat for Humanity International 
 International Organization for Migration 
 Organization of American States 
 Pan American Relief 
Providing Medical Aid: 
 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 
 Catholic Medical Mission Board 
 Child Hope International 
 Cure International 
 Direct Relief International 
 Doctors Without Borders 
 Friends of the Orphans 
 Haitian Health Foundation 
 Healing Hands for Haiti 
 Heart to Heart International 
 Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti 
 IMA World Health
 International Child Care
 International Medical Corps 
 MAP International 
 Medical Teams International 
 Operation Smile
 Operation USA 
 Pan American Health Organization 
 Partners In Health 
 Physicians for Peace 
 Project Concern International 
 Project Medishare 
 Real Medicine Foundation 
 Relief International 
 United Nations Population Fund 
 World Health Organization 

Providing Food/Water: 
 Action Against Hunger 
 Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team 
 Compassion International 
 Convoy of Hope 
 Feed My Starving Children 
 Feed the Children 
 Food For the Hungry 
 Food for the Poor 
 Global Aid Network 
 Meds & Food for Kids 
 Stop Hunger Now 
 The Salvation Army 
 United Methodist Committee on Relief 
 Water Missions International 
 World Food Programme 
 World Water Relief 

Organizations accepting international currencies: 
 British Red Cross 
 Canada: Plan International 
 Germany Red Cross 
 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 
 Ireland: Concern Worldwide 
 Italian Red Cross 
 Oxfam Great Britain 
 The French Red Cross 
 The International Committee of the Red Cross 
 UK: Merlin 
 UK: The Disasters Emergency Committee 
 UK: World Jewish Relief