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Press Conference on Haiti by Assistant Administrator of United Nations Development Programme

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

20 January 2010

Immediate employment for the Haitian population was a crucial part of the response to the earthquake, Rebeca Grynspan, the new Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said this afternoon, as she announced a dramatic ramping up of the agency’s Cash-for-Work in the devastated nation.

“Work programmes will be very important for social stability and for less dependence on just receiving aid,” Ms. Grynspan, who is also the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference.

The programme, she stressed, was a priority of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a central component of UNDP’s early recovery mandate, as it would also serve to support humanitarian efforts.

Having already started with workers performing such tasks as rubble removal in the metropolitan areas of Port-au-Prince and Carrefour, the agency was aiming for 700 employed by the end of this week and 220,000 engaged as quickly as possible in all affected areas.

Each worker would receive $5 per day in the local currency, as adjusted to current exchange rates, she said, giving them $100 per month assuming 20 days of work.

She said that the programme had already received $5 million, $3 million from UNDP human resources and $2 million in other contributions. With those funds, it would be able to cover the wages of 50,000 people.

For the ultimate goal of employing 220,000 workers, UNDP had requested $41 million as part of the flash appeal sent out after the disaster, with $35.6 million of that going towards wages, she said.

To get the numbers to that level, the agency had to build up its ability to organize communities, since the programme, as developed in response to the devastation of Gonaives by a recent hurricane, was based on the involvement of community-based non-governmental organizations.

She said a selection methodology for the workers had been developed for Gonaives and other similar situations. In Gonaives, mostly women had been engaged, but she expected that to change to fit the needs of the current disaster.

In response to further questions, she said that inflation caused by the scarcity of commodities was inevitable, but the scale and time frame was not predictable. There was no doubt, however, that increased aid and other supplies could mitigate the rise in prices.

She said that all UNDP staff had been accounted for, except for one international staff member who worked with the Department of Safety and Security under a UNDP contract. International staff members were staying at the UNDP base building, with some sleeping on the floor pending the arrival of tents and prefabs. National staff members had joined their families.

Finally, asked about her new appointment as Assistant Administrator, she said that she was starting that job on 1 February 2010, but she was not privy to the decision-making process that led up to it.

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For information media • not an official record

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