The Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, reporting on the results of a four-day visit to the Caribbean nation in June, said: “The first finding of the group is that the situation on the ground has improved since its visit at the same time in the previous year.”
“The progress made in clearing and reconstruction work in Port-au-Prince and neighbouring towns is visible and shows that Haitian society is mobilized and that the aid provided by the international community has been useful,” said the 13-member group.
The group cited accomplishments in recovery from the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, which resulted in more than 220,000 deaths and delivered a severe blow to country’s already shaky infrastructure. It singled out successes in debris removal, resettlement of displaced persons, and the fight against cholera.
However, the group’s 19-page report added that “aid coordination is a major challenge on which the group has been focusing for several years.”
“It has become particularly urgent in view of the greater number of development partners providing aid to Haiti and the resources committed to the reconstruction process,” it said. “Almost all of the interlocutors of the group held the view that aid is still not sufficiently coordinated, which creates duplication and reduces the effectiveness of interventions.”
Nigel Fisher, the deputy special representative of the secretary-general in Haiti, told ECOSOC that the implementation of the government’s priorities was “significantly delayed” because of an ongoing stalemate in a struggle between President Michel Martelly and Parliament over the confirmation of a new prime minister.
Ambassador Keith Morrill of Canada, which led the group, said “the inability of political actors to find a rapid solution to this stalemate is having detrimental consequences on international assistance, on Haiti’s prospects for development, and most importantly, on its people.”
The advisory group recommended a continued, strong UN presence on the ground but also suggested the international body should “pool the resources of United Nations entities on the ground, including in the provinces, and encourage all development partners to increase their share of the number of staff posted outside of Port-au-Prince, thereby increasing local capacities and supporting decentralization efforts.”
They also recommended that the Haitian government improve agriculture productivity, create jobs through government, business and union cooperation, and integrate disaster preparedness into its capacity-building.