The UN's Haiti donor conference resulted in $15 billion in
pledges over the short and long term. It is seen as a test of
whether such massive rebuilding programs can work.
The unprecedented international solidarity with Haiti following
the Jan. 12 earthquake - from as far away as the republic of Georgia
and as near as the neighboring Dominican Republic - proved to be
unflagging Wednesday: Pledges of more than $5 billion in short-term
assistance were made at a donors' conference attended by more than
100 countries and international institutions.
Haitian authorities, who had asked for about $4 billion in aid
for the next 18 months, described the outpouring as "testimony that
Haiti is not alone."
For their part, world leaders are hailing the generous support
for the small Caribbean nation long dismissed as a basket case as a
vote of confidence in the potential of collective international
action. "This signals a new level off global cooperation and ...
commitment," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at
closing press conference.
In addition to the $5 billion in short-term aid, 48 countries and
institutions pledged nearly $10 billion for Haiti's long-term
reconstruction needs over the next decade.
At the same time, leaders acknowledge that the effectiveness of
the aid will be a test not just for Haiti but for the international
community, as well. There is strong global skepticism about the
effectiveness of the kind of massive rebuilding program that post-
earthquake Haiti is undertaking.
"This is not only a conference about what we financially pledge
to Haiti, we have to pledge to do better ourselves" at effective
post-disaster rebuilding, Secretary Clinton said in opening the day-
'Build back better'
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon set the tone by telling the
conference that the goal is "not just to rebuild, but to build back
Among the long-term goals envisioned in an action plan unveiled
by the government of Haitian President Rene Preval is a
decentralized country based on smaller nodes of population in areas
less prone to natural disaster than the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The plan also targeted agricultural self-sufficiency and stricter
Most important, President Preval said, is development of an
education system that does not leave more than one-quarter of
Haitian children outside its doors, as the case even before the
But many world leaders warned that the day-to-day living of
millions of Haitians remains precarious. …