Haitians wonder where all that money went- Guest Opinion

Haiti: Where did the money go?

March 19th, 2012 | by | Published in All Stories, Bureau Recommends

Estimated 50,000 Haitians Set Up Camp on Port-au-Prince Golf Grounds

An estimated 50,000 Haitians set up camp on Port-au-Prince Golf Grounds

After the Caribbean fault lines ripped apart Port-au-Prince, one of the poorest and most densely populated capital cities in the world, over two years ago, Haiti became the recipient of the most generous outpouring of solidarity in the form of disaster relief donations in the history of the United States. One out of every two American households gave a stunning $1.4 billion to a total of 23 major charities, and the international community came together pledging an unprecedented $5 billion – the largest pot of post-disaster reconstruction money ever.

‘People [in Haiti] are very poor, but they’re not stupid. They’re very, very aware that the money was raised with their suffering and their poverty and it’s not being spent on them.’
Linda Polman, journalist and author. 

Here’s the catch: The vast majority of the jackpot was not donated directly to the Haitian people or their elected government, but rather to a proliferation of international NGOs with sophisticated PR apparatuses whose urgent emotional appeals, user friendly donation methods and humanitarian brands made them seem like the natural broker of the emergency aid funds.

The film Haiti: Where did the Money Go? has been aired on dozens of PBS channels across the US, on Capitol hill, in tent camps of Haiti and will today be screened at University of London Union (ULU), tomorrow in Oxford and should be available online in the coming weeks. Though it’s not the most in-depth piece of reporting on post-earthquake accountability in Haiti, and glosses over the country’s complicated history with NGOs, the film’s naiveté does an excellent job of communicating the shocking disparity between the outpouring of money and what’s actually spent on emergency relief for victims of the quake. More importantly, the wide-reach of PBS broadcast has sparked a much-needed debate on the transparency and effectiveness NGOs, which Haiti advocates and the congressional black caucus hope will lead to a congressional inquiry into the work of big NGOs.

A storm of criticism

The American Red Cross and Catholic Relief Service, among those interviewed at length in the film, hit back at PBS criticising the film for “inaccuracies”, “false statements” and “distortions” but their statements have only backfired to reveal how little they actually knew about conditions on the ground.

“We could have been so much harder on the American Red Cross” filmmaker Michele Mitchell told The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, but rather than admitting any regret, says Mitchell “they went nuclear on us.”  They would have been wiser to let the storm of criticism blow over, as their embarrassingly defensive reaction to the film has only confirmed the criticism that they’re more concerned about protecting their brand’s reputation than doing right by the intended beneficiaries of their aid.

During two visits to Haiti ten and twenty months after the earthquake, Mitchell interviews internally displaced camp residents, NGO spokespeople, aid workers, academics and human rights advocates, trying to track down the aid money in the tent camps where as many as 1.5 million displaced Haitians languished at the time.

Viewers accompany her through a visceral journey into a city that looks like it’s been shelled like “Beirut in the 70′s”, a city where the gagging stench of 6 latrines reveals them to be shared by 5,000 camp residents, where people often paid for their tarpaulins and were provided with water that made them sick.

Her first visit coincides with a period when Haiti was facing three full-blown humanitarian emergencies: post-earthquake internal displacement, the outbreak of cholera and hurricane Tomas. Though such simultaneous crises were unprecedented challenges for the UN and NGOs, they had 10 months to prepare for hurricane season and the high possibility of a cholera epidemic, and yet no plans were in place other than instructing camp residents to drop their tents and evacuate to higher ground as the hurricane passed.

Humanitarian code of conduct

There does exists a humanitarian code of conduct for the minimum needs of displaced populations, known as the SPHERE standards, however “there’s no legal requirement” to adhere, says Peter Walker of Tufts University who helped initiate the standard. Nor is there “an industry association that you’re a member of which requires you to deliver to those standard.” The SPHERE was never adhered to in Haiti and accountability often came down to the threat of bad press from journalists.

Haiti was famous for being the republic of NGOs and a graveyard of failed NGO projects even before the earthquake. In the aftermath, at the donor conference in New York where the international community came together to raise money to rebuild, “they swore on the graves of their mothers that this time it would be different” says Linda Polman, Dutch journalist and author whose caustic pen has produced several damning critiques of the NGO “aid caravan”, UN peacekeepers and the relief and reconstruction complex. “People are very poor, but they’re not stupid. They’re very, very aware that the money was raised with their suffering and their poverty and it’s not being spent on them.”

Most aid workers genuinely want to do good, but they also want to have a good time and don’t want to forsake their first world living standards, unfortunately that can look offensive, wasteful, parasitic to the victims on the ground whose tragedy pays their salary.

When asked where the money has gone one resident of an IDP camp says it has gone to “paying for beautiful hotels to sleep in.” The UN themselves say rents have gone up 300%. Mark Schuller, American Anthropologist at CUNY, who has conducted the most definitive field studies of aid in Haiti’s tent camps says “You can call it non-profiteering if you like, you can call it disaster capitalism if you like, but that’s what’s happening right now in Haiti.”

Across the street from a squalid camp where three latrines service an estimated 7, 000 people, fleets of white SUVs line the streets as aid workers and Haiti’s tiny elites frequent a luxury restaurant with an extensive wine menu, tuna tartar, escargot and New York steak at $34. Most aid workers genuinely want to do good, but they also want to have a good time and don’t want to forsake their first world living standards, unfortunately that can look offensive, wasteful, parasitic to the victims on the ground whose tragedy pays their salary.

The films biggest flaws are its over-reliance on American voices to tell of Haiti’s plight, only featuring Haitian voices as victims, while ignoring any Haitian government officials and their critiques of the relief effort.  Limited by the time spent shooting on the ground, the film’s critique of NGOs perhaps doesn’t go far enough, but its mainstream reach is bringing under scrutiny the very important topic of disaster and aid accountability.

Mush of promising words served to feed hungry Haitian hopes -What's it say?

Haiti: Martelly Administration Launches Community-based Decentralization Program

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The government of President Michel Martelly, working through the Ministry of Interior and local communities, today launched Katye Pam Pose (KPP), an innovative, community-based decentralization program.

Katye Pam Pose (KPP), which is the cornerstone of the Haitian government's National Decentralization Agenda, is focused on improving delivery of government services, as well as fostering development and job creation by promoting strong community involvement.

The overarching objectives of Katye Pam Pose are to bring decision-making closer to the citizen level; promote good governance; boost economic development and job creation; ensure the efficient delivery of public services; promote citizen safety, and accommodate the interests of diverse local interest groups.

According to Haiti's Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul, who will spearhead and coordinate the program nationwide, "Working community by community, Katye Pam Pose will guarantee access to basic social services and citizen safety to our people, which will lead to job creation and development."

Mayard-Paul explained that the launch of Katye Pam Pose will include a pilot program in 10 communities, representing all 10 departments. "That way, we can ensure that we address the specific needs of each community, under an integral and manageable framework, allowing us to make adjustments to enhance the program as it progresses," he said.

The range of actions within KPP include strengthening natural disaster mitigation efforts; improving the delivery of health, housing and education services; recover public spaces, develop local citizen initiatives and creating job opportunities in tandem with the private sector. "In the end, our goal is to improve the quality of life of the Haitian people by enabling safe and prosperous communities, right where they live," he said. "Building the capacity of citizens to manage and maintain KPP programs and infrastructure at the local level is very important to our administration, as is developing culture and sports programs. This is an ambitious decentralization program."

Broadly defined, decentralization is the process by which power and other resources are transferred from the central government to lower governmental levels, such as regions, departments, municipalities, and communal sections. This enables local entities to provide services to their communities and conduct local government tasks. According to Mayard-Paul, advocates believe that decentralization is one of the most effective ways to ensure that local governments are held accountable to the citizens they represent.

Mayard-Paul pointed out that Katye Pam Pose is a community-based program for decentralization modeled on successful experiences in other parts of the world, including Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe and the United States. "However, it's a community-based model, a new and innovative Haitian approach to decentralization," he added.

"KPP pilot program in each of the 10 selected communities will be based on an in-depth participatory needs assessment diagnosis to ensure program implementation is prioritized by community need," said Mr. Mayard-Paul.

"Assessments will determine the level of impact, the feasibility of implementing each initiative and will make it possible for us to tailor pilot programs to each specific community based on the priorities identified."

The Ministry of the Interior is also identifying and exploring national and international partnerships, that could accelerate deployment of KPP.

"The government of Haiti is committed to the success of Katye Pam Pose," said Minister Mayard-Paul. "In implementing the program, I am committed to carrying out the vision of President Martelly and his administration, driving sustainable development and job creation at the local level."

History of the failed foreign business leadership efforts in Haiti

March 2, 2012

Business as Government: Capitalizing on Disaster in Post-Earthquake Haiti

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by Deepa Panchang and Beverly Bell

“I am optimistic that in 18 months, yes, we will be autonomous in our decisions. But right now I have to assume... that we are not.”[i] With these words, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive watched a swath of his government’s decision-making power shift into foreign hands in early 2010.

Sign from a Port-au-Prince protest in October 2011, declaring “IHRC = Occupation. Long live a sovereign Haiti.” Photo: Ansel Herz.

It's one thing to privatize government services. Since the earthquake, US firms have actually been involved in privatizing governance – in fact, the governance of another country. Corporations with little to no knowledge of Haiti were brought in as volunteers to plan, kick off, and even staff the team with the single greatest operational influence over shaping the reconstruction model for the year after the quake, the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC).

The IHRC was created by the Haitian parliament in April 2010 to direct post-earthquake reconstruction. Its mandate was to oversee rebuilding efforts through the $11 billion in pledges of international aid, including approving policies, projects, and budgeting. The World Bank was to manage the money. In creating and investing this body with its broad power, Parliament conducted a constitutional coup on April 15. Whereas the constitution mandates shared governance by an executive, a parliament, and a judiciary, the IHRC shifted it to the executive and the international community. The Parliament voted to give the IHRC the power to do, effectively, whatever it wanted. The only oversight measure left the Haitian government was veto power by the president.[ii]

Given the corporate philosophies of the firms that designed it, the resultant features of the IHRC were hardly surprising. The IHRC’s 26 board members were elected by no one and were accountable to no one. Half were foreign, including representatives of other governments, multilateral financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations. An international development consultant contracted by the IHRC, speaking with the Haiti Support Group, said, “Look, you have to realize the IHRC was not intended to work as a structure or entity for Haiti or Haitians. It was simply designed as a vehicle for donors to funnel multinationals’ and NGOs’ project contracts.”[iii]

McKinsey and Company, a US management consulting firm, was one of the firms that came in to help "design" and "launch" the IHRC.[iv] A background interview with an official very close to the process showed the Haitian government at the beck and call of McKinsey as it structured the commission and determined membership and decision-making processes. (All these aspects later received vehement criticism from Haitian civil society.) At the very first meeting, according to official minutes, it was McKinsey’s lead consultants who “made a presentation to the Board regarding the mission, mandate, structure, and operations of the IHRC.”[v] The consultants sat in on subsequent meetings as well.[vi]

McKinsey & Co. performed its services pro bono. Whether paid or not, the post was a lucrative one; it well-positioned the firm both to influence future contracts and to shape a climate favorable to business. A 2010 World Economic Forum document explicitly stated that “McKinsey helps coordinate with partners to channel interest from the private sector and connect would-be donors and investors to opportunities in Haiti.”[vii]

McKinsey was a natural choice for the job because of its former managing director’s long-time personal and political ties to Bill Clinton, who serves as UN Special Envoy to Haiti and was co-chair of the IHRC board. The firm was also a prime candidate because it advances the paradigm of ‘government as business,’ serving many governments around the world.[viii] As one example, McKinsey played a key role in developing the framework for the reconstruction commissions in Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean tsunami which, as with the IHRC, involved infusing foreign private sector individuals into policy-making. This was another case in which the local population was excluded from having a say in its own future following another disaster; civil society groups denounced the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR in Bahasa) for being extremely centralized and discounting civil society voices.[ix]

McKinsey came under fire again after Hurricane Katrina and the flood of New Orleans for work it had done prior to the storm. McKinsey helped major insurance companies develop tactics that stalled court proceedings and delayed payments that, in practice, allowed them to avoid paying out claims to their clients who suffered in natural disasters or accidents. Lawsuits against insurance companies asserted that McKinsey’s pre-Katrina advice, particularly to Allstate, effectively helped insurers cheat their customers.[x]

Another US firm, Korn/Ferry International, came on board to head-hunt the executive director of the IHRC. This was to replace the initial staffing that had been provided by the Clinton Foundation, International Development Bank, and the governments of the US and Canada.[xi] Korn/Ferry circulated a job announcement, in English, through politically connected circles in the US and Haiti, as though it were hiring for any profit-oriented business instead of for a team that was making major decisions in the name of a nation and its well-being. The announcement noted that, “Leadership experience in highly efficient and structured organizations, such as the military, is an advantage.”

Korn/Ferry provides recruitment services for both corporate and government positions, and keeps its finger on the pulse of the increasing overlap of the two. It even published a report encouraging companies to hire leadership with government and policy backgrounds and vice versa, in what it called a "new marriage between business and government.”[xii]

Vesting foreign enterprises with political power is fundamentally anti-democratic. If US firms’ performance in post-earthquake governance is any example, it is a frightening indicator of what might emerge with even greater participation in decision-making, as mandated by the redevelopment blueprint published in March 2010 by the Haitian government and international community.

As ineffectual as the Haitian government may be, its functions can’t be outsourced. Haiti needs a government with responsibility to the citizenry who elected it and the ability to protect their rights. The pursuits of foreign firms – making governance decisions about rebuilding, paving the way for other firms’ Haitian debuts, racking up humanitarian clout – have been at the expense of Haitians still struggling for basic needs and democratic power.
The public good requires a public sector which can guarantee health, education, adequate food, water, housing, employment, agriculture, and civil liberties. It requires more than unaccountable foreign agencies and private business that can and do pull out when they like.

Deepa Panchang is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Other Worlds. She has worked in advocacy for human rights in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance and is working on the forthcoming book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.
You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti here.

Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Deepa Panchang and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

Haiti electric grid construction offers opportunities for Florida exporters


Haiti seeks to rebuild, or just build, power grid


The Associated Press

BOUCAN CARRE, Haiti — Sometimes it seems as though the people here have only the sun and moon: the blinding sun that bakes their mud homes and moonlight that with flickering gas lamps fights against the dark of night.

In this Feb. 14, 2012 photo, Dr. Valentin Abe, director of Caribbean Harvest, feeds fish in a tank where solar panels are reflected in the water near the Saint-Michel health center in Boucan Carre, Haiti. This lakeside village is getting its first hint of industry: a fish hatchery with pumps powered by solar power. The solar panels will also provide the town with a dependable electricity supply for the first time. The solar project is part of a broader effort to harness some of the $4.5 billion pledged to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake to address one of the main bottlenecks in the country's development: a critical lack of electricity. Only a quarter of Haiti's 10 million people has regular access to electricity. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2012 photo, a woman prepares food by candlelight in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Only a quarter of Haitians have regular access to electricity and spotty supply hampers businesses and scares away foreign investors. The scarcity touches just about every aspect of Haitian life, as students read by candlelight and the wealthy power their homes with generators. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2012 photo, people make their way through a dark street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Only a quarter of Haitians have regular access to electricity and spotty supply hampers businesses and scares away foreign investors. The scarcity touches just about every aspect of Haitian life, as students read by candlelight and the wealthy power their homes with generators. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Electricity arrived just three months ago in this mountain village, and it's gone as often as it's on. With no power, there is no industry, just tiny farms and grinding hunger. Now that will be changing, with the help of that sun.

A Haitian aid agency has just installed 63 solar panels that will power the pumps of a fish hatchery it hopes will give jobs to 100 people after it formally opens next month.

Boucan Carre is among dozens of projects across Haiti where the government and development agencies are using some of the $4.5 billion in earthquake aid to solve one of the bottlenecks that kept Haiti in poverty long before the shattering earthquake of January 2010: a critical lack of electricity of any sort, whether from hydro plants, solar cells or oil-fired generators.

Only a quarter of Haiti's 10 million people have regular access to electricity and spotty supply hampers businesses and scares away foreign investors. The scarcity touches just about every aspect of Haitian life. Students read by candlelight. Haiti's wealthy power their homes with rumbling generators, a costly ordeal because fuel fetches $5 a gallon in a country where 80 percent of the population makes less than $2 a day.

President Michel Martelly's administration hopes to double the number of rural homes with access to power by helping villagers acquire solar-power systems, reforming the state power company and refurbishing the country's largest energy generator. In all, some $260 million has been earmarked for energy projects so far.

"If we properly tackle the energy problem we will infuse a dynamic into the whole development process of Haiti," said Rene Jean-Jumeau, who oversees the government's energy department. The absence of electricity is "the biggest thing that's impeding development."

Boucan Carre's 6,000 people live along a river named Fonlanfe — roughly "deep as hell" — that surges in the rainy season and that aid workers are using to supply the fish farm, which will need a steady supply of power.

"It has to be reliable because you need electricity 24 hours a day," said Valentin Abe of the Caribbean Harvest Foundation, the Haitian nonprofit that is donating the fish. The Washington-based Solar Electric Light Fund received a $500,000 grant from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund for the hatchery.

The solar panels and batteries power pumps that pull water from a river and add oxygen to six, 12,000-gallon tanks filled with baby fish. The extra oxygen raises the yield of fish from 2,000 a month to 20,000.

The fish are then given to the farmers who raise them at a nearby lake. Valentin hopes that people who now live on less than a dollar a day working at small farm plots will have annual profits of $2,000 each, in addition to a source of protein-rich meals.

Elsewhere, the government working with banks to award more than $30 million in low-interest loans so that 200,000 families can buy portable solar-power kits.

The biggest target is Haiti's decrepit electric company, which eats up $100 million a year in official subsidies, 12 percent of the government's budget.

It hasn't been able to crack down on Haitians who just steal power by tapping illegally into the grid, and cannot provide steady power to any of its customers, even in the capital.

In Port-au-Prince, a team of carpenters build bed frames, doors and coffins, all by hand, in the shade of a tarp strung among tree trunks. One of them, 55-year-old Francis Pierre, longs to use his power tools but says there is seldom electricity.

"We would be able to make more, produce more," he said.

Haitian officials turned to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which awarded a contract to a private utility operator, Tetra Tech Inc. of Pasadena, California, to manage the electric company for two years. USAID is also repairing five substations in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and is studying the possibility of using solar panels for an industrial park in the north.

One of the biggest projects is the Inter-American Development Bank's $48.8-million plan to refurbish Haiti's Peligre hydroelectric plant, the country's largest energy producer. It now operates at less than half its original capacity of 54 megawatts because its reservoir hasn't been properly maintained.

The cell phone company Digicel, Haiti's largest employer, has built about 180 solar-powered lamps in the countryside and hopes to add 1,000 more by next year. Each light features an outlet for charging mobile phones.

Boston-based Partners in Health has installed solar panels in the hospitals it runs with the Health Ministry, and plans to build more with the Solar Electric Light Fund.

"If we would go three hours without electricity and the refrigerator doesn't work, there's a risk we'll lose our supply of medication," said Raymond Abraham, a 30-year-old pharmacist in training at the Boucan Carre hospital, which is powered with solar panels on the roof. "The best solution to resolve the blackout situation is solar energy."

In Port-au-Prince, solar lamps illuminate a winding thoroughfare that takes motorists to the mountains above the capital as well as the settlement camps that sprung up after the earthquake.

But solar energy panels are expensive and the equipment is not always easy to repair. Replacement parts often are not available in Haiti.

Energy development "needs to be locally controlled and not a dumping of technology from abroad," said Joel Kupferman, executive director of the Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti.

Terrible turn of events for Haitian stability and recovery

Haiti’s Martelly Urges Patience After Prime Minister Resigns

Miami river days 11 005

Prime Minister Garry Conille, a former United Nations diplomat supported by Haiti’s opposition parties, left from his post amid disputes over how relief aid was handled.

By Eric Sabo - Feb 25, 2012 9:08 AM ET

Haitian President Michel Martelly urged the Caribbean nation to remain calm as he seeks to replace his prime minister who resigned yesterday and accelerate recovery efforts from the 2010 earthquake.

Prime Minister Garry Conille, a former United Nations diplomat supported by Haiti’s opposition parties, left from his post amid disputes over how relief aid was handled.

“We’ve taken action for a quick exit from this situation and I will propose a new prime minister,” Martelly said in a televised address late yesterday. “I regret that the resignation occurs in a context in which the country is beginning to take off.”

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, is still rebuilding from the January 2010 quake that killed 300,000 people. The U.S. and Canada called on Martelly to quickly appoint a new prime minister, warning that a void in leadership could undermine the recovery.

“We continue to believe that political stability in Haiti is critical to its ability to attract the domestic and foreign investments needed to increase economic development and create jobs,” the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince said in a statement

New Hotel for Haiti capital. Who will win the construction material contracts and provisioning?

Clinton Foundation helps seal deal on much-needed hotel for Haiti capital 

Marriott, Digicel unite on $45M project in quake-ravaged Caribbean country

BY Edward Glazarev

Sunday, December 4 2011, 1:35 AM

 	(L. to r.) Digicel owner and President Denis O'Brien, former President Bill Clinton, Arne Sorensen, COO, and Dr. Garry Conille, Prime Minister of Haiti.
Digicel Group

Ex-President Bill Clinton joins Digicel's Denis O'Brien (l.), Arne Sorensen of Marriott (2nd from r.) and Haiti's Prime Minister Garry Conille to announce project.

 	Digicel Group is responsible for designing and building the hotel and chose Marriott International's flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand as its operating partner under a long-term management agreement. Construction on the property is expected to begin in 2012, with opening expected in mid-2014.
Digicel Group

Rendering of the 173-room Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince, which will bring much-needed jobs to the Caribbean's poorest country.

The capital of earthquake-ravaged Haiti will receive a big economic boost with the construction of a new $45 million, 173-room Marriott hotel, the government announced.

With the help of former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Foundation, the Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel will create 175 new jobs and Marriott will invest in hospitality training to benefit Haiti's tourism sector. The Digicel Group will design and build the hotel, which is expected to open in mid-2014.

"This new hotel project will stand as a symbol of Haiti's recovery, providing much needed jobs to the Haitian people and encouraging foreigners to visit, invest and work in Port-au-Prince," Clinton said in a statement. "My Foundation has worked with both Marriott and Digicel, and encouraged them to form this partnership. Their investment proves that Haiti is open for business and on the path to economic recovery."

With merely 500 hotel rooms operating in the city, the Port-au-Prince Marriott will add 173 rooms and create much-needed lodging and meeting space for business travelers seeking to invest in the country, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), humanitarian organizations, reconstruction teams, financial institutions and visitors to the capital.

"With lodging options severely limited in Port-au-Prince, this is indeed bright news," said Digicel chairman and founder Denis O'Brien.

Digicel, the single largest private investor in Haiti and the country's largest telecom provider, has constructed 70 schools and rebuilt the iconic Iron Market in Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake hit the Caribbean's poorest country.

"Haiti is in great need of quality hotels today, and for the foreseeable future," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International's president and chief operating officer. "We aspire for a hotel of our flagship brand to be located in every capital in countries where we operate. Over time, as Haiti continues to heal, rebuild and develop, our hotel will not only help the many organizations serving Haiti now, but would also stimulate business and attract leisure visitors in the future. Combined with the local businesses we can support, this is the 'multiplier effect' that travel and tourism brings to the economies of emerging countries."

The Port-au-Prince Marriott, which will be located in the Haute Turgeau area of the city, will offer 168 rooms and five suites with Marriott's signature amenities and features, including premium bedding, high-speed Internet (LAN and wireless) and flat-screen televisions. Dining options will include a casual restaurant, a lobby bar and lounge and 24-hour room service. The hotel will include about 4,606 square feet of flexible meeting space, a 1,614-square-foot fitness center, swimming pool, and sundries shop/marketplace.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/clinton-foundation-helps-seal-deal-much-needed-hotel-haiti-capital-article-1.986496#ixzz1fZxYngjJ

Haiti seeks to match investors with opportunities Nov. 29

Haiti - Economy : International investment conference in Haiti
19/11/2011 09:06:53

Haiti - Economy : International investment conference in Haiti

The Haitian government, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Clinton Foundation will hold on November 29–30 in Port-au-Prince a conference on private sector investment in Haiti to highlight economic opportunities arising from the Caribbean country’s reconstruction and long-term development plans.

The Invest in Haiti Forum, which will bring together hundreds of foreign and Haitian business people, will feature presentations by President Michel Martelly, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.

During the first day of the conference, which will take place at the Hotel Karibe's convention center, participants will attend panel discussions focused on specific sectors: apparel manufacturing, agribusiness, infrastructure and tourism. Each panel will feature presentations by people either carrying out or planning business projects in Haiti.

Among the Haitian authorities scheduled to speak at the event are Prime Minister Garry Conille, Finance Minister André Lemercier Georges, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Lamothe, Public Works Minister Jacques Rousseau, Agriculture Minister Hébert Docteur, Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir, and Trade Minister Wilson Laleau.

Among the private sector and civil society panelists are Joey Adler, CEO of Diesel Canada and founder of ONEXONE Foundation; Donna Karan, founder of Urban Zen; Frank Rainieri, CEO of Grupo Puntacana of the Dominican Republic; Dennis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel; Juan Esteban Orduz, president of the Colombian Coffee Federation; Bradley Horwitz, CEO of Trilogy International; Duncan Dee, COO of Air Canada; Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president of Marriott International; Kofi Taha, associate director of the MIT D-Lab; José Andrés, founder of Think Food Group and World Central Kitchen; and Sean Penn, founder of the JP Haitian Relief Organization.

On the second day of the event, foreign participants [from Latin American and Caribbean nations, North America, Asia and Europe] will be able to attend matchmaking sessions with Haitian business counterparts.

HL/ HaitiLibre

Haiti aims to spread people, jobs across country

Haiti aims to spread people, jobs across country

By TRENTON DANIEL, Associated Press – 23 hours ago 

CORAIL-CESSELESSE, Haiti (AP) — When last year's earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, the school where Sansoir Boyer taught biology and math was reduced to rubble, along with the surrounding neighborhood.

Out of that disaster, however, Boyer has emerged with a new house and job beyond the teeming city he had lived in for years. Along with thousands of other displaced people, he moved to the burgeoning settlement of Corail-Cesselesse on a sun-soaked plain nine miles (14 kilometers) north of the capital. He will be principal of a soon-to-open elementary school.

"I think the area will be transformed and the people who live here will find a better life," Boyer said outside the row of schoolhouses.

Some 18 months after the quake, Haiti's government and international partners are trying to create jobs and housing in the countryside in an effort to relieve strain on dangerously crowded Port-au-Prince. The city is one of the Caribbean's biggest, with about a third of Haiti's population, having swollen from 200,000 people just a few decades ago to more than 3 million.

Part of the reason was that Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, the late dictator, shut down ports and tore up roads to undermine his opponents in the countryside. And in the 1980s, new factories lured farmers to the city from fields where they were struggling to survive.

Today, on the mountainsides surrounding the capital, cinderblock shanties are piled on top of one another. Seasonal rains often trigger mudslides, sending homes crashing down the crowded hills.

When the magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, some 300,000 people died, according to government figures. Densely packed neighborhoods became death traps. Whole neighborhoods were flattened. Many in Haiti have speculated that the death toll would have been lower had there been jobs and basic services in the countryside to keep people there.

Now government officials and foreign aid groups see a rare opportunity to fix the problem.

Running for president, Michel Martelly vowed to develop the countryside, and since taking office he has called for mending crumbling roads and infrastructure.

He recently inaugurated renovation of a highway to link Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, in the north, to Gonaives, a dusty port city on the west coast. He plans to extend the Cap-Haitien airport runway to bring in tourists and lighten the load at Port-au-Prince.

A recent report by aid groups led by the International Organization for Migration, which focuses on post-disaster displacement, says 12 percent of the camp dwellers in the capital who were interviewed want to move to the countryside.

The settlement of Corail-Cesselesse shows the possibilities and limitations.

The site was supposed to be Haiti's first planned community for quake survivors, many of whom were camped on a flood-prone golf course in the capital.

Thousands joined the exodus, and more than a year after the 20-hectare (50-acre) Corail site was founded, crudely made shelters have spread across its hills, raising speculation that the area will turn into another shantytown. But the organized settlement is also beginning to look more like a city, with rows of houses, churches, a clinic and a state-run school with nine classrooms that is slated to open in January and where Boyer will be principal. )

Roadside vendors, boutiques and barbershops have sprung up. A Voodoo temple, identified by a red T-shirt fluttering from a tall stick, sits just outside the settlement.

Public services, patchy in Port-au-Prince, are even worse in Corail-Cesselesse because of difficulties extending to the settlement power lines, roads and other infrastructure.

As a result, solar-powered lights illuminate the grounds. Water has to be trucked in. Banana trees grow in yards but few places exist to buy food.

"If you don't go out (of Corail-Cesselesse), you don't eat," said Rodrigue Desormeau, 45, who commutes to Port-au-Prince most days to sell skin lotions on its traffic-clogged streets.

Some residents hold onto hope that their lives will improve as neighbors come together and demand better services. Others are not sure the government will help.

"The state doesn't have a spirit of development based on its track record," said Boyer, the teacher, who is among the lucky few to find a job in Corail-Cesselesse.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, co-chaired by U.S. former President Bill Clinton and caretaker Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, also is looking to the countryside with projects that include two hospitals in Haiti's Central Plateau, an earthquake prevention plan for the north and various agricultural schemes.

The biggest U.S.-funded project approved by the panel is a $224 million, 250-hectare (617-acre) industrial park east of Cap-Haitien that would create 20,000 jobs and housing for 5,000 people.

Roads and jobs, however, can go only so far in persuading people to build ties to new communities.

Francoise Jean-Pierre, 30, was plucked from a makeshift shed on the Port-au-Prince golf course last year and placed in Corail-Cesselesse. She found a decent shelter made of timber and a job as a cook in the new school.

It still does not feel to her like home.

Reclining in a chair in a rare patch of shade, Jean-Pierre mused about her old, quake-damaged neighborhood.

"Delmas misses me," she said, "and I miss Delmas."

Haiti will be hit by Hurricane Irene by Tuesday

USS Saipoan

Haiti is forecast to be hit by Hurricane Irene this Tuesday

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HaitiAction.net - Port au Prince, Haiti —0100 AST — It is very likely that Haiti will not be spared from the first major hurricane to hit the country since the deadly 2008 Atlantic Hurricane season. It is possible that IRENE — currently at Tropical Storm intensity could reach Hurricane Category Two intensity when it is forecast to hit the region near Barahona Tuesday afternoon. Like Tropical Storm Emily, the high mountains of the Dominican Republic and Haiti should weaken the hurricane somewhat, but this time most computer models show IRENE maintaining Tropical Storm intensity and not dissipating significantly over the island.

Currently the storm's forward motion is rather quick but is expected to slow once it passes the Windward Islands into the Caribbean Sea. Even though the forecast is for IRENE to keep moving westward at 270º, the forecast track should show IRENE gradually curving more to the north and missing Haiti entirely if the center passes over Anguilla with a 300º heading later today. None of the computer models show this track. The National Hurricane Center in Miami (NHC) states that "hurricane conditions could occur in the Dominican Republic late on Monday."

IRENE is the ninth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season being the third most active year on record behind the 2008 and 1936 seasons. The Republic of Haiti has issued an Orange Alert for this storm.

HaitiAction.net will be tracking the progress of this storm. For the latest official updates, go to the Centre National de Météorologie (CNM) web page Many forecast and tracking resources can be found on the Tropical Cyclone page at HaitiAction.net

Health ship to station in Haiti

United States Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Will Carry Out Humanitarian Mission in Haiti August 18-30

August 11, 2011

In collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Health, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince announces the visit to Haiti of the U.S. hospital ship USNS Comfort. The Comfort will arrive in Port-au-Prince on August 18 and remain until August 30. The visit is part of the U.S. Navy's Continuing Promise 2011 exercise, a five-month humanitarian assistance mission occurring throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  Port-au-Prince will be the ship's ninth and last stop on this mission. The voyage of the Comfort emphasizes the continued commitment of the United States to Haiti, and reflects the shared history and friendship between the United States and the countries in the region.

The United States thanks the Haitian Ministry of Health for hosting this mission. The crew of the hospital ship Comfort will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and international partners to offer medical, dental, and veterinary care to the people of Haiti.

The medical staff of the hospital ship will begin seeing dental patients and patients with general medical needs on August 19 from 08:00 am to 4:30 p.m. at Varreux Terminal, Varreux, Cite Soleil.  Consultations will end on August 28.

In addition to health services, Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28, and U.S. Marines from the 8th Engineer Support Battalion will conduct engineering and construction projects to be identified by the Haitian government.

This mission highlights the critical importance which the U.S. government places on healthcare as part of its overall assistance and reconstruction efforts in Haiti.  In 2010, the United States   provided more than $74 million in health assistance to Haiti, including family and child health services and HIV prevention and treatment.