On Thursday, April 24th, GMF hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with the Inter-American Dialogue and World Bank on Haiti "Strengthening Partnerships: Lessons from Haiti and the Way Forward" at the Civil Society Policy Forum which runs parallel to the World Bank/IMF spring meetings. The lunch event was well attended with a packed room (approximately 60 people) and additional people watching remotely from a spill-over room. It was also video streamed to a group of NGOs in Port-au-Prince. Ambassador Raymond Joseph, the Haitian Ambassador to the U.S., and Haiti's Minister of Tourism, Patrick Delatour also participated in the dialogue. After panelists made their remarks, the Ambassador and Minister provided comments.
Jim Kunder made opening remarks, thanking our partners, the Inter-American Dialogue and the World Bank Group, Latin America and Caribbean. He introduced our panelists, Auguste Kouame, Lead Economist, Caribbean Countries, World Bank; Geraldine Dufort, Counselor, European Union Delegation to the US; Russell Porter, Deputy Coordinator, Haiti Task Team, USAID; and Corinne Delechat, Mission Chief for Haiti, IMF. Kathleen Campbell, Associate Director, Aid Effectiveness Project, Save the Children was the respondent.
Mr. Kouame briefly outlined a few positive indicators of gradual progress and development in Haiti prior to the earthquake - in terms of the economy, Haiti experienced 3% growth last year. Although still far too prevalent, poverty has been gradually decreasing and momentum for private sector development was slowly gaining. The earthquake in January had the largest impact than any other natural disaster had in any other country (since a tracking system has been developed); the quake cost an estimated 120% of Haiti's GDP.
Mr. Kouame then went on to discuss lessons learned from Haiti on partnering and challenges going forward. While the international community (including the WB which committed $100 million in relief for immediate needs) made significant pledges in the wake of the disaster, much of that money was not disbursed. Of the over $2 billion that was pledged, the government of Haiti only saw $10 million. The rest of the money either went to NGOs or other relief organizations or was not disbursed. However, there are also positive lessons learned from Haiti. Immediately after the quake, the international community mobilized over 150 experts to help with relief and the international community including the UN system, the World Bank, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and others collaborated well together. When the government takes a leadership role, the results are great; this was evidenced by the successful donor conference in NY focusing on an action plan. We also need to look beyond our technical knowledge and should work with universities and academia to use the latest technology. Furthermore, partnership need not be limited to the international community as we traditionally view it. Prior disaster experience makes a strong case for the international community to pool resources into a trust fund which creates conditions for sound financial management and good governance. Going forward, we must focus on the long term and create a strategy to transition from immediate disaster relief to reconstruction and maintain the partnerships throughout this period.
Ms. Dufort followed Mr. Kouame's remarks and provided an EU perspective. For the EU, state building is a central piece of a way forward as well as reconstruction and a focus on getting the Haitian government back up and running. She emphasized that commitments must be fulfilled and everyone must commit to detailed multi-year development projects.
Mr. Porter provided a USAID perspective and outlined some of the unique challenges posed by the quake in Haiti, namely that the quake struck a very urban environment, the UN office in Haiti was seriously impacted - both the structure of their facilities as well as the loss of personnel and leadership on the ground, and finally the Haitian government itself was also severely wounded - ministries and the Presidential Palace were in rubble and as well as personnel. In regards to response, the cluster system improved response over the prior system and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) platform... We need to find ways to move more people into disaster situations more quickly and improve communication between the disaster/relief community and development community.
Following Mr. Porter's comments, Ms. Delechat provided the IMF perspective. The IMF was responsible for immediate disbursement of funds to the government and assisted in the reestablishment of key state functions, primarily the capability to spend the funds and be responsible. One priority was to spur economic activity in Haiti again. One challenge going forward will be managing the transition from disaster relief to reconstruction. Everyone must play their part; the private sector has an important role to play and the government must create conditions for reconstruction to begin. In order to ensure this reconstruction and coordination happens there must be mutual accountability, transparency and good governance both on the parts of donors and the Haitian government. We must also focus our partnership efforts on building a strong state; a strong state is the only thing left after aid efforts and the international community's role declines.
Finally, Kathleen Campbell briefly responded to the statements made by the panelists. NGOs do a good job of partnering but need to work on partnering with the government and ensuring capacity and resources are strengthened on all sides. The multi-donor trust fund decreases the burden on the Haitian government from having to work with multiple governments and donors. It is a good tool for planning government services and delivery and the process for the government to take over such responsibilities from NGOs. Finally, it needs to fund people to do the work that needs to happen now.
The Ambassador made brief remarks following the panelists and quickly turned the discussion over to Minister Delatour as he was instrumental in securing immediate relief for Haitians and is part of the ongoing relief effort. Minister Delatour was asked by President Préval to head a steering committee tasked with finding temporary shelters for Haitians in the aftermath of the quake as this was a primary public safety concern given the demolition of buildings. The focus going forward on is the future. The minister also addressed the unique challenge in Haiti as the UN and many embassies were under rubble after the quake and the absence of leadership as a consequence.
Finally, Jim Kunder opened the floor to questions. The questions focused addressed some of the topics discussed, such as how to plan for the transition from disaster relief to reconstruction; how to ensure there is transparency both on part of the donors and the government and prevent corruption; and how to administer the trust fund.