HaitiHaiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

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AFP reports today that the UN has abruptly changed plans on the relocation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians before the rainy season. The new plan, based on recent surveys, will relocate just 9,000 who are the most at risk. AFP reports:
Until recently, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had been saying that 218,000 people living in so-called red sites around the capital Port-au-Prince would have to move.

Dan Harris reports for ABC News on the amount of donations from Americans that have not yet been spent by aid organizations. Harris writes:
Since January's earthquake, Americans have already given $800.9 million in private donations to help the country rebuild. The money has gone to 23 charities that ABC News has been tracking. Only about 37 percent of the money has been spent. Nearly $588 million in donations is still sitting on the sidelines, as millions of Haitians continue to suffer.

Charities say that spending too quickly would risk creating waste and robbing money from the long-term work that must be done. But while they plan for the long-term, there is an immediate crisis.

More than a million people are homeless and a fifth of them still have no shelter, with the rainy season officially starting Friday and the hurricane season just around the corner.
Harris also points out that only half of the 9,000 latrines that are needed have been built.

Below is a note from Mike Levy who has been monitoring and providing translations of the local news in Haiti from L'Agence Haitienne de Presse/Radio Solidarite. Their news coverage is available online in French and Kreyol at www.ahphaiti.org.
Most of the news reported over the past week by AHP News and Radio Solidarité has focused on the many conferences and preparatory meetings convened by the international community as well as the Haitian private sector, the Haitian Diaspora, commissions of the Haitian Parliament, civil society organizations and NGOs, and individual governments. Surely the sheer breadth and number of these meetings should be enough to indicate the high stakes involved. There can also be no question that Haitians are well able to match the international organizations and governments - if not with equal resources to hold meetings, at least with expertise, focus, commitment and passion. Some of these meetings were already taking place before the nightmare of the January 12th earthquake. Some draw upon documents prepared in recent years. All of them indicate a capacity and willingness to hold consultations on the question of rebuilding a better Haiti.

The New York Times reports today on the case of 30 Haitians who are being held in an immigration detention facility in Florida. The detainees, none of whom have a criminal background, were waved onto US military planes in the chaotic aftermath of the earthquake. When they arrived in Orlando it was discovered that they did not have visas and were promptly taken into custody. The Times reports that after numerous inquiries, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said that the detainees were “being processed for release,” and revealed that there were an additional 35 Haitians being detained in other parts of the country. The Times reports that:
The detainees have received little or no mental health care for the trauma they suffered, lawyers at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center said, despite an offer of free treatment at the jail by a local Creole-speaking psychotherapist.

Journalist Ansel Herz posted a new video showing conditions in an IDP camp in Cite Soleil, Herz writes:
This is a short video looking at IDP camps in Cite Soleil, Grand Goave, and Chanmas where people still have almost nonexistent shelter. The UN shelter cluster claims they’ve provided shelter materials to 75% of Haiti’s 1.3 million displaced people. Most people I talk to believe that’s an overestimate.

The Cite Soleil camp featured in the video, in particular, I know has received nothing in months. I’ve gone back several times. Last time kids were digging mini-trenches with sticks and rocks to divert the rain. It’s down the street from the Doctors Without Borders clinic.

The New Media Advocacy Project together with Partners in Health and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti have released an important video showing the struggle in the IDP camps. With the rains already beginning, over 300,000 are without any shelter and the tarps that the lucky ones have are barely holding up.  The organizations have a simple message:
The international community must do a better job of delivering aid more quickly and effectively to Haitians living in camps in and around Port-au-Prince.
Click here to view this important video.
Ansel Herz reports for Inter-Press Service on the ongoing military presence in Haiti. Specifically, the article focuses on the role of MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping force that has been in Haiti since 2004. Herz reports that a group of women who were receiving food aid were tear gassed by the peacekeepers recently. There is also a zoning system that designates different zones either green, orange or red, drawing comparisons from some to the mapping of a war zone. The red zones are areas where groups are advised not to go, and Herz writes that the map he was given only had red zones covering the slums of Cite Soleil and Bel Air. Further, Herz reports that at the UN compound near the airport, Haitian's are often turned away because they lack a proper pass. The article begins:
On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.

According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd.

Mary Beth Sheridan reports for the Washington Post on the US' new approach to aid in Haiti:
An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation.

This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.

Colum Lynch reports for the Washington Post on the action plan that President Preval will present to the donor conference at the UN tomorrow. Lynch writes that the plan would "redirect much of Haiti's economic development outside Port-au-Prince." The plan details how money will be spent over the next 18 months. Lynch quotes from the plan:
"Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake," according to the 53-page document, the first detailed account of how Haiti and its international backers plan to spend their money over the next 18 months. "It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss."

Paul Farmer, speaking at Barry University, said that NGOs were not doing enough to help the Haitian people after the earthquake, reports the Miami New Times blog. The article continues:

"There's graffiti all over the walls in Port au Prince right now saying, 'Down with NGOs,'" Farmer said in a speech at Barry University. "I think people in the NGO sector need to read the writing on the wall."

A group of Washington based groups, the "ad-hoc Haiti advocacy coalition", released a document today which includes numerous recommendations for implementing a Haitian led reconstruction. The purpose of the document is "to ensure that Haitian input is accessible to international policymakers, donors, and media as critical strategy and funding decisions are being made that will impact Haiti’s future. The compilation consists of documents from Haitian civil society, international NGOs, coalitions and diaspora conferences. Below are some of the general points and principles for guiding both short-term and long-term reconstruction:

Dr. Jim Wilson, of Praecipio International, posted on the Shelter Cluster website a warning of a possible crisis of Pediatric Diarrheal Disease. The forecast "calls for thunderstorms beginning this Wednesday and lasting at least through the following Tuesday."

Wilson notes the concern on the ground about rises in diarrheal disease, especially in regards to children. He notes that it, "has already been documented that diarrheal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality both before the earthquake and after.  We have observed apparent ‘bumps’ in diarrheal disease incidence following periods of sustained rainfall..."

A New York Times editorial today calls attention to the ongoing struggle in Haiti. The editorial calls for urgent efforts on shelter and sanitation and highlights a recent Amnesty report detailing a rise in cases of rape in the IDP camps. The Times also stresses the need for coordination with the Haitian government. The Times writes:
The emergency in Haiti isn’t over. It’s getting worse, as the outside world’s attention fades away.

Misery rages like a fever in the hundreds of camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of the 1.3 million people left homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake. The dreaded rains have already swamped tents and ragged stick-and-tarp huts. They have turned walkways into mud lakes and made difficult or impossible the simple acts of collecting and cooking food, washing clothes, staying clean and avoiding disease. The rainy season peaks in May.

The AP reports on a speech Bill Clinton gave to aid organizations working in Haiti. Clinton issued a stark warning; if urgent efforts are not made to relocate those displaced, up to 40,000 may die during the rainy season. Clinton stressed the need for aid organizations to empower the Haitian government, and make efforts to turn Haiti into a self-sufficient nation, echoing statements made by human rights groups to the Inter American Commission earlier in the week. The AP reports that Clinton said:

Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?
As Haitian officials have consistently said, they face serious budget issues and are unable to pay many workers, as such, Clinton asked organizations "to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training." Clinton also urged organizations in Haiti to "participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent."

To read the entire article, click here.

Yesterday, President Obama formally asked congress (PDF) to approve ammendements to the budget in the amount of $2.8 billion. It is important to note that most of this money can be used to reimburse funds that were already spent by the agencies, so the total new assistance will not be the total $2.8 billion. The BBC reports that the Senate is " is said to be close to a bill meeting Mr Obama's request." Following is the breakdown of agencies that would receive funding:

$150 million to the Department of Agriculture (food aid).

$655 million to the Department of Defense.

$220 million to the Department of Health and Human Services.

$60 million to the Department of Homeland Security.

$1,491 million to USAID and the State Department.

$219.8 million to the Department of the Treasury.

$5.2 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

You can read the whole document here, and see the breakdown within agencies.

A number of human rights groups and NGOs testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights yesterday. The groups stressed a human rights based approach to foreign assistance and requested the commission to visit Haiti to investigate the human rights situation. Mario Joseph of Bureaux des Avocats Internationaux said:
International aid has been given generously, but distributed poorly, without input from earthquake survivors. As a result, children are going hungry, women are at risk of sexual violence and exploitation, and families are sleeping in the rain, without waterproof shelter.
The groups had previously issued a series of recommendations in advance of the donor conference.

To read the testimonies and other documents that were submitted to the Inter-American commission, click here.

The groups were: Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Partners In Health (PIH),  the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), and Zanmi Lasante (ZL)
The Huffington Post has started a Haiti blog, "Rebuilding Haiti: Dispatches From the Relief Effort." The blog will have posts from relief workers, both from the ground and from international support teams. Yesterday, Rowan Moore Gerety of UNICEF, posted about the relocation plans for Port-au-Prince. With the relocation moving extremely slowly, the sudden movement may mean that beyond public health problems, there could be social health problems:
In Haiti, the rainy season is about to begin, necessitating relocation of the score of people displaced by the earthquake and currently living in over crowded camps. There are plans to move roughly 150,000 people currently living in the camps to the center of Port-au-Prince by May, yet only one site with a capacity of under 4,000 people has been secured to date.

When rains drenched the capital on Thursday night, the Golf Club de Pétionville turned to mud. It was a frightening preview of what the rainy season will hold for the 45,000 people who live there if they stay. Tents collapsed. Ditches overflowed with sewage. People and their belongings were swept downhill.

A recent Al Jazeera video report takes a look inside some of Haiti's garment factories. The factories are a central part of reconstruction plans, however Al Jazeera reports:
[M]any Haitians see the expansion of foreign companies as a way to take advantage of the widespread poverty plaguing the country, where the unemployment rate is up to 80 per cent.

The exploitation concerns come as former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush prepare to visit the Caribbean nation on Monday to discuss long-term recovery efforts with Haitian officials.

And a part of their plans will be to discuss  the expansion of clothing industries in the country - in which workers earn less than $4 a day - one of the lowest wages in the world.

The first is from Anderson Cooper of CNN, who interviews Sean Penn in Haiti. Penn describes the scene on the ground after heavy rains fell in Port-au-Prince last week. Penn describes a coming disaster if hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitian are not relocated before the heaviest rains begin in earnest. The video includes footage of the camps, turned to mud, after the rains.

The second video comes via the Red Cross, who obtained the video from the Irish Television Channel. The video is taken at night after just twenty minutes of heavy rains in one of the make shift camps that are home to some one million Haitians. The Red Cross explains:
It is the beginning of the rainy season in Haiti. What people had feared since the earthquake is happening. After only 20 minutes of one of the first rains of the season in the camps, the scene quickly transforms into rain soaked mud-bath. Water seeps through everywhere. People are getting wet outside and inside their tents. Tarpaulin sheets have to be cut with knives to prevent them from collapsing under the weight of the rain water. People are panicking and trying to protect themselves. What will it be like for Haiti's people when the real rains come?
Jonathn Katz reports for the AP that Clinton apologized in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10:
"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake...I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."
Chief humanitarian coordinator for the UN, John Holmes, echoed this statement, telling the AP:
"A combination of food aid, but also cheap imports have ... resulted in a lack of investment in Haitian farming, and that has to be reversed."
The article notes that while these criticisms have been coming from aid groups for years, "world leaders focused on fixing Haiti are admitting for the first time that loosening trade barriers has only exacerbated hunger in Haiti and elsewhere."

To read the entire article, click here. To see past coverage of this issue and the effects of imported rice on Haiti, see this or this.
An editorial in the Miami Herald on Sunday argues that Haiti faces another disaster as the rainy season comes, and that urgent efforts must be taken on the ground. "Despite the best efforts" of the international community, the situation on the ground remains dire:
The devastated capital of Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of camps are located, is ground zero for the crisis of the homeless. Refugees in overcrowded shelters live in conditions of utter squalor, surrounded by piles of trash in mosquito-infested camps where the air is thick with the odor from overflowing latrines, and drainage lines are clogged with sewage.

Security is a problem. So is hygiene.

The flimsy tents and tarps in these camps will be no match for the coming storms, which is why an all-out effort must be made to relocate as many of the displaced as possible, particularly children, before it's too late.

The focus should be on the 29 of 425 sites in and around the capital, with about 200,000 homeless, that U.N. officials say are the most vulnerable to flooding and have been targeted for resettlement. The government's chief advisor on relocation, Gerard-Emile ``Aby'' Brun, says it will take $86 million to build relocation sites and another $40 million to secure rights to the land.

At this stage, money should not be the problem. More than $1 billion in aid has flowed into Haiti, and more is coming.
To read the entire article, click here.

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