Reconstruction of Haiti has proceeded “at a snail’s pace,” leaving more than half a million Haitians still homeless, Oxfam said in a report today. The international agency urged the Haitian Government and countries that have pledged money for rebuilding to accelerate reconstruction of the country.
In the report, Haiti: the Slow Road to Reconstruction -Two Years after the Earthquake, Oxfam called on the Government of Haiti to implement a comprehensive reconstruction plan, with timetables, to rebuild the country and resettle the approximately 520,000 people still living under tarpaulins or in tents. Oxfam Canada called on the Canadian government to play a leadership role in the reconstruction effort.
“The time for tents is over. We need real progress building homes, creating jobs, helping people get on with their lives,” said Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. “Donor governments have to move from pledges to performance, delivering on the promises they made to the Haitian people.”
Billions of dollars of aid were pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction, but promises haven’t always been translated into money on the ground. Canada has disbursed almost all of its pledged funds, unlike many other countries. According to the UN, as of the end of September 2011, donors had disbursed just 43 per cent of the $4.6 billion that they pledged for reconstruction in 2010 and 2011.
“Canada has the credibility and capacity to play a key leadership role, helping the Haitian government galvanize the vision, will and resources to get the job done,” Fox said.
With some 70 per cent of the Government of Haiti’s budget coming from development assistance, donor support is essential if the new government is to deliver on its promises to tackle some of Haiti’s most pressing issues.
“The second anniversary of the devastating earthquake must be a call to action,” said Oxfam’s country director in Haiti, Cecilia Millan.
Oxfam said that the emergency relief effort following the earthquake was successful in saving countless lives and providing basic services to over a million people. Nearly half of all earthquake rubble – about five million cubic meters — has been removed. Some 430 kms of roads have been constructed or rehabilitated since the earthquake, providing vital infrastructure for economic recovery.
However major problems remain. Most Haitians do not have running water, a toilet or access to a doctor; cholera has claimed thousands of lives and remains a major threat to public health; and more than 70 percent of the workforce is under or unemployed.
In 2010, Oxfam reached more than 500,000 people with its earthquake response program, and 700,000 people with cholera-prevention activities. In 2011, as emergency relief turned to reconstruction, a further 532,000 people were reached by Oxfam’s work in camps and as they moved back to life in the wider community.
Oxfam’s focus has shifted from immediate humanitarian needs back to longer-term development, though Oxfam will remain alert to the threat of cholera and future emergencies, and will intervene with a Rapid Response Team when necessary.
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