On the occasion of the third anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, Haiti, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), associated with the Woodrow Wilson Center, held on Friday, an event to renew its efforts in the reconstruction and discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with this activity.
During this event, entitled "Recovery, Reconstruction and Renewal: What It Takes to Build Back Better in Haiti," presentations were made by key partners, the parties involved in Haiti and in the United States, the Community and international organizations in the reconstruction. Among key stakeholders include: Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti to the United States, Paul G. Altidor, Thomas Adams, Special Coordinator of the U.S. Department of State and the Ambassador and the Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin.
Un groupe d’experts a discuté des stratégies, pour un développement urbain qui prend en compte : la reconstruction avec le mortier et la brique en vue de création d’emplois ; la sécurité ; l’accès à la terre ; les services de santé de base ; l’eau et l’assainissement. Les panélistes ont présenté des perspectives locales et internationales, permettant de voir ce qu’il faut, pour reconstruire en mieux Haïti.
A panel of experts discussed of strategies for an urban development that takes into account: the reconstruction with the mortar and brick with a view for the job creation ; the security ; access to land ; the basic health services ; water and sanitation. Panelists presented local and international perspectives, allowing to see what it takes to rebuild Haiti better.
In his speech, Ambassador Altidor declared "[...] the challenge is not only to rebuild, but to go beyond all efforts to improve the quality of life [...] The Government of Haiti is working tirelessly. Our objective is to not stop on temporary solutions. Instead we are committed to providing sustainable solutions to the housing and other crises that long preceded the earthquake and to address the challenge of spurring a vibrant economy and job growth."
Since 12 January 2010, PADF brought its action on a broad portfolio of activities including :
- Evaluating the safety of more than 412,000 buildings—nearly every building affected by the earthquake—by working closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (MTPTC) and Miyamoto International, a seismic engineering firm ;
- Repairing nearly 10,000 damaged homes in Port-au-Prince and Léogâne with support from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Caterpillar Inc., and the American Red Cross ;
- Training of more than 900 Haitian masons to use improved building techniques ;
- Improving neighborhood infrastructure and access to basic social services, particularly in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas 32 ;
- Improving health, education, water and sanitation, infrastructure, agriculture and jobs through community-driven development projects; and
Building the capacity of urban community-based organizations to encourage them to define their own local priorities, including health, education micro-enterprise, and infrastructure
"While the challenges still facing Haiti are significant, they must not be allowed to dwarf the enormous strides that have been taken by individuals and communities to restore and rebuild their lives. I am heartened and encouraged by the resilience of the people with whom PADF is working and hopeful for Haiti’s future," declared Dr. Judith Hermanson, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Pan American Development Foundation.
In his speech, Albert Ramdin Assistant Secretary General of the OAS declared that the commitment by the international community to rebuild a better Haiti should not wane.
According to the high ranking OAS official, Haiti remains high on the agenda of the organization which continues to mobilize support for the country from across the Americas. While commitment from the international community has been unprecedented, Ramdin acknowledged that "there is a limited window of opportunity for Haiti to experience this level of commitment." Addressing stakeholders, Ramdin continued, "I would hope that international commitment would not wane, but the reality is that global and domestic pressures have caused priorities to be reassessed for many countries. A foundation has been laid in Haiti and the government is working to ensure this foundation is built upon. Political stability, economic stimulation, education and employment remain priorities which we share."
Pointing out that Haiti will be chairing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for the next six months, Ramdin suggested it is an indication that Haiti is in a position to focus simultaneously on both regional and domestic issues. "Three years after the earthquake, we all must reassess what we have learned, what we have achieved, and how we should adjust our approach. Our commitment to Haiti should not wane. Haiti’s progress is an indicator of our region’s success or failure," said Ramdin.