Monday, April 19, 2010

Haiti ... A small step towards managing the ongoing relief and rebuilding resources

Dear Colleagues

I have been trying to learn how the resource management for ongoing relief and rebuilding in Haiti is going to be handled ... and so far this seems to be the best information that has been compiled

It is now more than three months since the disastrous earthquake ... and the rescue, relief and rebuilding process is now starting to show fatigue. From the Community Analytics (CA) perspective the biggest single disappointment has been the very lukewarm engagement with accountability. For all practical purposes, the resources have flowed with the minimum of accounting and accountability. This is a disgrace ... and has opened the gates to misuse of resources.

Accountability need not be onerous ... it should be part of the operational procedures used by any organization handling economic resources. A tiny amount of effort at the right time makes everything that has to be done later very easy. Nobody ... but nobody ... seems to have done this.

The UN has done some positive work in trying to compile data about the amount of money that has been mobilized. The amount is impressive. This seems to be good work by a group working within the UN.

It seems that the system of clusters that has been used to handle the day to day coordination of relief and rebuilding initiatives has been good though two big complaints exist: (1) there are a lot of local NGOs that feel completely left out of the process; and (2) the basic of daily accountability as referred to above has been missing.

The process of getting a "plan" put in front of donors by March 31 succeeded in that a document was circulated and substantial funds were pledged by donors. From a review of the document it seems that the process did not include the integration of many practical issues into the plan ... notably getting a structure that would work well to provide oversight ... and getting decisions made that would get the best progress for the least money. Bluntly put ... the plan remains a "welfare" program all the way from rescue to relief to rebuilding. A better plan would be clear that the rescue and relief phases might be mainly in the welfare mode, but that the rebuilding would be based on a remaking of the economy of Haiti so that progress could be sustainable.

It is clear that many of the issues that made Haiti poor in the past are going to be constraints on the future of Haiti during the ongoing relief and subsequent rebuilding phases. None of the constraints are spelled out in the March 31 plan.

Haitians have every right to be concerned about the World Bank (WB) having a critical role in the allocation of resources for socio-economic rebuilding in Haiti. The WB has sixty years of experience ... almost none of it good ... especially in the area of development and accountability which are going to be critical for success in Haiti. For the WB to have legitimacy in this role, the WB will need to open its books and decision making procedures in ways that it has never done in the past.

The CA approach to planning for the rebuilding of Haiti is community centric ... people centric. For relief, people centric means making sure that people are able to be safe, especially in the face of the upcoming rains and hurricane season. The NGO community needs to be able to access emergency resources to keep going. However this is not an endorsement of the performance of these organizations which is effectively "not on the record" because they have systematically ignored every basic of accounting and accountability.

When plans are made to optimize socio-economic performance in around 200 communities around the country and affecting all 10 million people, the profile of work priorities becomes very different from the profile that emerges from the March 13th paper. The biggest issues are jobs and education for children ... food, water and health for the family ... shelter ... infrastructure. These separate sectoral issues merge into a connected set of community issues at the community level ... and each helps the other. A modern thoughtful development strategy uses the money resources available to recapitalize the economy so that all the sectoral pieces of the community economy can come together. This requires planning about an institutional framework that is not reflected in any of the dialog up to now as far as I can tell.

The CA community based plans are being prepared community by community ... they are starting to highlight some of the key issues that need to be addressed ... and especially the constraints that have to be handled. The development of these plans is made more difficult by the proliferation of summary reports, and the surprising lack of access to any serious underlying data.

If anyone has data that would help ... please let me know. The text of the recent Relief Web report on the management of reconstruction body follows.

Peter Burgess

Haiti approves key post-quake reconstruction body
* Commission gives donors role in reconstruction decisions
* Donors had insisted on oversight for project funding
* Some local lawmakers say commission violates sovereignty
By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 16 (Reuters) - Haiti's parliament has approved the creation of a commission that will allow foreign donors to participate in deciding how to rebuild the poor Caribbean nation after its devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

The bill approving the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was set up by an international donors conference on March 31, was passed by the Haitian Senate late on Thursday after the national assembly's lower house had also endorsed it.

The assembly also extended a post-quake state of emergency for 18 months, corresponding to the commission's tenure.

The joint commission, to be co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, and by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, will determine which reconstruction projects will receive backing from multibillion-dollar funding pledged by foreign donors.

President Rene Preval is due to sign the bill into law and the president will have final veto over rebuilding projects.

Even before the catastrophic quake, which shattered the fragile and impoverished Haitian economy and killed more than 300,000 people, Haiti had a reputation for high levels of government corruption. Donors had called for guarantees of oversight and accountability in the rebuilding process.

Sitting on the commission, under the joint chair, will be an equal number of Haitian and non-Haitian representatives. The latter include officials of international organizations, multilateral lenders and major donors.

The body will operate for 18 months before handing over to a government redevelopment authority.
Thirteen senators voted for the bill, one voted against, and two abstained, but in preceding debates, Preval's administration had to overcome arguments from some lawmakers who said the quake-hit nation was ceding sovereignty by agreeing to a foreign donor role in decision-making.
"I could not vote this law because it is against the country's constitution and it violates our sovereignty," said Senator Youri Latortue, who refused to back the bill.

Rejecting these fears, Preval told Haitians the operation of the commission would facilitate the release of massive reconstruction financing that will be administered through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund, to be supervised by the World Bank.

"Do we lose our sovereignty because of the creation of this commission? I think the answer is no," Preval said recently.


At the March 31 donors' conference in New York, foreign governments, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organizations from around the world pledged a total of $9.9 billion for Haiti's reconstruction, $5.3 billion for the next two years alone.

The emergency measures accompanying the creation of the recovery commission authorize the Haitian government to use funds and take other measures needed for reconstruction without prior approval by parliament, and also allow it to avoid some legal and constitutional constraints.

Many Haitians have criticized what they say was the Preval government's slow and ineffective response to the natural disaster. A poll funded last month by the international charity Oxfam showed that only 6.6 percent of Haitians believed their government alone should be left to rebuild the country.

But government supporters said the commission would help to get the reconstruction underway quicker. "We want this law to take effect as soon as possible so the population may see the concrete results of commitments made by the government and the international community," Senator Joseph Lambert said.

International aid workers are striving to care for more than 1 million homeless Haitian quake survivors who are camped out in makeshift tent and shelter communities sprawled across the wrecked capital and in other damaged towns.

Aid workers say that unless safer, more secure shelter is found for the hundreds of thousands of homeless quake victims, the imminent rains, and the hurricane season starting on June 1, could cause another humanitarian catastrophe. (Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Eric Beech)
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