Donors Must Learn From Past Failures, Fulfil Aid Pledges

06/03/2010 12:00am

Yesterday in the Dominican Republic a conference was held on the reconstruction of Haiti, the “World Summit on the Future of Haiti: Solidarity beyond the Crisis“. The summit brought together over 100 countries and international organizations. At the summit, Haitian President Rene Preval called on donor countries to honor the pledges made at the Donor Conference in New York over two months ago. In New York $5.3 billion was pledged for the next two years, and $9.9 billion over the next decade. Despite this, Al-Jazeera reports:

According to aid experts, Haiti needs about $11.5bn for its anticipated decade-long rebuilding effort.

But so far, Haitian government officials say, only Brazil has delivered its entire aid pledge of $55m.

After the New York conference, Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, noted his past failure to ensure pledges to Haiti were honored, from Inter-Press Service:

“I was asked…to harass all the donors to see that they honour their commitments. I was a failure at that,” he said, noting that only 30 percent of the funds requested for development in Haiti before the earthquake had actually been dispersed.

Months after four massive hurricanes struck Haiti in the summer of 2008, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes warned that the storms were “worst disaster in the last 100 years” to hit Haiti, but that just 40% of the $107 million appeal had been funded.

Along the same lines, Oxfam released a statement after the donor conference which read:

“The last time the region was hit by a natural disaster of this scale, Hurricane Mitch of 1998, only less than a third of the $9bn promised materialized. This cannot be allowed to happen this time.”

A worrying report from the OECD was released in February as well. According to Reuters, the report concludes that:

[T]here would be a $21-billion deficit between the aid promised by most of the world’s wealthiest countries for this year and actual donations.

Given the scale of the disaster in Haiti, and the chance of another potential catastrophe with the Hurricane season now underway, it is imperative that donor countries learn from their past mistakes and fulfill their pledges immediately.

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