The UN and the US are co-hosting a high-level donors' meeting on
post-earthquake Haiti. The goal is to secure $3.8 billion in
international pledges for a decade-long recovery program.
The global spotlight that focused on Haiti's monumental rescue
and stabilization efforts in the weeks after the devastating Jan. 12
earthquake turns back to the Caribbean nation Wednesday.
This time, the international community seeks to finance and
fashion a multibillion-dollar reconstruction program that doesn't
just repair the weak and impoverished country but uses the
opportunity to build a better Haiti.
The United States and the United Nations are co-hosting a high-
level donors' conference that US officials say will draw more than
100 countries and international development organizations. The goal
is to secure an initial $3.8 billion in international pledges for a
decade-long recovery program the Haitian government estimates at $14
IN PICTURES: Rebuilding after an earthquake
The international community will express a common spirit of
support for Haiti in opening remarks to be offered by leaders
including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon, and his special envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton.
Haitian President Rene Preval will outline his government's plan for
What role for whom?
But several contentious issues will have to be addressed if
Haiti's massive reconstruction effort is to be a success: Is the
international community turning too quickly to visions of rebuilding
what is virtually a failed state, when the immediate relief needs of
millions of Haitian people are unmet? Is it wise to expect the
Haitian government to take charge of the rebuilding effort, given
that its weaknesses were only compounded by a natural disaster? And
is the US taking too dominant a role in the rebuilding program?
"This is not a traditional donors' conference; this goes far
beyond simply rebuilding the physical structures destroyed by an
earthquake," says Francois Pierre-Louis, a political scientist and
Haiti expert at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y. This one-day
conference is about building the tangible (physical infrastructure)
and the intangible (such as governance), he says, "and it may be too
ambitious to do both at once."
Some international development experts and US officials cite the
reconstruction of Aceh in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami as an
example of how rebuilding can be done successfully - and they say
the international community can apply the lessons it learned in Aceh
to Haiti. But others say the Haiti reconstruction will be more
daunting, in part because an already-ineffectual nation was
decimated by the disaster. …