Monday, March 1, 2010

Letter to Congress: Emergency Supplemental Aid to Haiti

February 19, 2010
RE: Emergency Supplemental Aid to Haiti
Dear Member of Congress:
The 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 was the worst natural
disaster to occur in the Western Hemisphere’s modern history. Initial estimates
indicate that at least 212,000 people have died, nearly 1 million are internally
displaced and almost 300,000 people injured. The response of the US
government in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake has been swift.
President Obama pledged $100 million in emergency assistance, and numerous
U.S. government agencies – including the department of State, the Agency for
International Development, Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and others –
quickly deployed staff and contributed resources to support emergency
humanitarian relief in Haiti. The international community has responded
Even while continuing to carry out substantial efforts to provide life-saving relief
to millions of Haitians, the United States and the international community must
support a massive, Haitian-led reconstruction and transformation plan designed
to support their goal of a democratic, equitable and productive society. Although
assessments of the extent of the damage are still being conducted by the United
States, the United Nations, the World Bank and others, initial estimates of costs
are well over $10 billion. A transformative reconstruction for the island nation will
require a long-term financial commitment. Haiti must be rebuilt in a way that
reverses the poverty and environmental degradation that has made it so
vulnerable to natural disasters. A return to Haiti as it was on January 11 is not
Given the scope of the task ahead, a letter was sent by some of the undersigned
organizations to President Obama on January 30 asking him to request an
emergency supplemental of $3 billion dollars to meet the immediate and longterm
needs in Haiti for relief, reconstruction and development. In a testament to
the urgent need for additional funds, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster
Assistance (OFDA/USAID) has been forced to transfer 40% from the budgets for
all other humanitarian assistance programs worldwide in order to support its
response in Haiti. Unless additional funding is made available soon, U.S.
humanitarian assistance to places like Somalia, Sudan, and Pakistan will be
drastically reduced. We are also mindful of the need for Haitian reconstruction
aid not to reduce the already limited development and humanitarian assistance to
the Western Hemisphere.
For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to support a supplemental
appropriations request. Furthermore, any supplemental funding should not be
taken from other regular budgets designated for humanitarian or development
purposes. We also ask you to guarantee that aid be allocated and disbursed
within the framework of the principles below in order to avert similar disasters in
the future.
1. Haitian-Led Reconstruction: The Haitian government, although
severely weakened by the earthquake, must lead the national recovery
and reconstruction effort. Haitian non-governmental and community
based organizations must be involved in the design and implementation of
the reconstruction plans. Their participation must also be guaranteed at
the Spring international donors meeting in NYC at the United Nations.
The active participation of these groups can help ensure ownership in the
process, rebuild and strengthen capacities of both Haitian government and
civil society, and promote equitable reconstruction in the cities and the
outlying provinces.
2. Build on Existing Plans: The post-earthquake reconstruction plan must
build on and strengthen plans for long-term development that already
exist. Haiti’s National Strategy for Growth and the Reduction of Poverty
(DSNCRP) is a development plan that was finalized in 2008 after
consultation. After the four hurricanes of 2008, the plan was revised to
respond to new needs and vulnerabilities exposed by the hurricanes.
These plans should not be discarded but used as the foundation of an
improved plan that incorporates and responds to the development needs
resulting from the earthquake. Non-state actors’ reconstruction and
development plans of Haiti post-earthquake must be geared towards
meeting the goals and objectives of the Haitian national revised plan.
3. Decentralized, Sustainable Development: The reconstruction of Haiti
must be decentralized and promote sustainable development. Rebuilding
Port au Prince to the way it was risks repeating past errors and future
catastrophes. Instead, reconstruction must include the provinces and the
long-ignored rural sector of Haitian society in order to decrease
overpopulation in the capital. There must be a focus on investing in rural
development and sustainable agriculture to reduce rural poverty through
job creation and increase national food security. Reconstruction must also
include strategies to mitigate risks related to future natural disasters,
including establishing earthquake-resistant building codes and the
reforestation of Haiti.
4. Protection for Vulnerable Populations: The estimated 1 million
internally displaced persons (IDPs), half in Port au Prince and half already
dispersed across the ten provinces, have particular protection needs that
range from proper shelter and documentation to the risk of physical harm.
Women and children are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and
exploitation in the aftermath of a disaster and too often find that the
assistance they need is underfunded or overlooked. As such, it is
important that a reconstruction plan fully implements the USAID Policy on
USAID Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and USAID Assistance
to Internally Displaced Persons: Implementation Guidelines that is based
on the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement framework for
protection and assistance to the displaced. Approaches to reconstruction
must also take into account the ongoing protection needs of IDPs living in
transitional shelters. We have an opportunity to act on the lessons
learned in other crises to ensure that the protection needs of IDPs, women
and girls, orphans and vulnerable children, persons with disabilities and
amputees are integrated into the Haiti earthquake recovery plan.
As part of the long-term recovery efforts in Haiti, we also urge the United States
and the international community to employ a regional approach to the provision
of assistance and protection for Haitians. In particular we urge processes and
structures that facilitate cooperation between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Space should be established for cooperation by civil society organizations,
governments and other stakeholders in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti
on a range of issues, including human rights; disaster preparedness, mitigation,
and relief, and environmental protection. We urge the U.S. and international
community to help facilitate these bi- and multi-lateral discussions.
A revised reconstruction plan for Haiti will require financial resources and time.
We strongly urge you to make a long-term commitment to Haiti by supporting an
emergency supplemental and consider provisions that allow for a two-year
window to designate and disburse funds based on the revised development plan.
As more information becomes available, we will provide further recommendations
on the type of fund that should be created with oversight mechanisms.
We appreciate the immediate bipartisan concern that the Congress has
demonstrated towards the immense scope of the natural disaster in Haiti.
Thank you.
ActionAid USA
Agricultural Mission
American Jewish World Service
America's Development Foundation
Americas Relief Team
Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team
Beyond Borders
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law
Church World Service
Foreign Policy in Focus
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Exchange
Grassroots International
Groundswell International
Haiti Sustainable Development Foundation
Hands on Disaster Response
Health Empowering Humanity
Honor and Respect Foundation
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Lambi Fund of Haiti
Latin America Working Group
Lutheran World Relief
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Oxfam America
Plan USA
Quixote Center
Refugees International
Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods
TransAfrica Forum
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Washington Office on Latin America
World Hope International
World Vision

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