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A Year of Indecision Leaves Haiti's Recovery at a Standstill

Aid agency calls on Haitian government and donors to break logjam and start reconstruction


In a report released today, international agency Oxfam called
on the Haitian authorities, with support from the international
community, to move forward on plans to start rebuilding the shattered
country and enable close to one million people still living in tents and
under tarpaulins to resettle or return home.

The report, "From Relief to Recovery",
blames a lack of progress on a crippling combination of Haitian
government indecision, rich donor countries' too frequent pursuit of
their own aid priorities, and a lackluster Interim Haiti Recovery
Commission, which was established to coordinate reconstruction efforts
and build state capacity.

A year of indecision

Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam in Haiti said:

"This has been a year of indecision and it has put Haiti's recovery
on hold. Nearly one million people are still living in tents or under
tarpaulins and hundreds of thousands of others who are living in the
city's ruins still do not know when they will be able to return home.

"Rebuilding this shattered country will not happen overnight, but there are key decisions on jobs, clearing rubble, house repairs and allocating land
for people who will not be able to return to their homes that can and
must be made urgently. We now need the incoming government of Haiti to
take its leadership role. The international community, including NGOs,
must unite to support the government so that Haitian authorities will
have a chance of succeeding."

Despite the success of emergency lifesaving aid after last year's
earthquake, long-term recovery from the disaster has barely begun.
Public donations as well as funding from donor governments and
multilateral institutions for the emergency aid effort were
exceptionally generous. However, of the $2.1 billion pledged by
governments for reconstruction in 2010, only 42 percent had been given
by the end of the year according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy
for Haiti.

Only 15% of the required basic and temporary houses built

"Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid
priorities and have not effectively coordinated amongst themselves or
worked with the Haitian government. This seriously weakens the
government's ability to plan and deliver on its sovereign responsibility
- to lead reconstruction," Van Hauwermeiren said.

Most donors provided funds for transitional housing but very little money for clearing rubble or repairing houses.
One year on, only five percent of the rubble has been cleared and only
15 percent of the required basic and temporary houses have been built.
House building on a large scale cannot be started before the enormous
amount of rubble is cleared. The government and donors must prioritize
this most basic step toward helping people return home.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, led by former US President
Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, was set up
in April 2010 to facilitate the coordination of recovery projects and to
help Haitian ministries with implementation. So far, the Commission has
failed to live up to its mandate. Many Haitian officials still do not
have the technical ability to lead projects, and almost no major
reconstruction projects have started. The Commission is a key element
for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision
and delay.

"Haitians want to get back to work"

Despite the current political crisis Haiti's political and economic
elites still have a once in a lifetime chance to address many of the
issues that have held back the country's development. But the process
must start now.

"If Haitians are to support themselves then the reconstruction effort must also give priority to helping people earn a living.
Above all else, Haitians want to get back to work and provide for their
families. They aren't asking for charity, but for a chance to be part
of the process to rebuild their own country. After going through so much
last year, Haitians deserve that chance," Van Hauwermeiren said.

One year on, Oxfam is providing aid to over one million people as
part of two emergency responses: one for earthquake relief and one to
respond to the cholera epidemic that has swept the country since
October, killing over 2,600 people.

Read more

Dowload the report: From Relief to Recovery: Supporting good governance in post-earthquake Haiti

Watch the video: Haiti: Rebuilding communities in Carrefour Feuilles

Learn more: The Haiti earthquake and Oxfam's humanitarian response

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.