UN agency reaches out to Haitians to jump-start post-quake recovery
20 January 2010 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has employed almost 400 Haitians to give the local economy a boost and swiftly deliver urgently-needed humanitarian aid following the catastrophic earthquake which struck the Caribbean country last week.
By week’s end, the cash-for-work programme will be expanded to include another 700 people to remove rubble and bring essential infrastructure, such as electricity, back online.
“Time is of the essence in getting early recovery after a major disaster,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, who visited Haiti on Sunday.
The 7.0 magnitude tremor is believed to have affected one third of Haiti’s population of 9 million.
She called for donor support to get people back to work as quickly as possible. “This will accelerate early recovery and prepare for the longer-term rebuilding when it takes place.”
The programme, which has received $5 million so far from UNDP and the Spanish Government so far, allows people to receive $5 per day and hopes to ultimately involve 220,000 people, indirectly benefiting 1 million people.
The cash-for-work scheme is essential, not only because it augments humanitarian activity, “but also because people are able to be not only spectators, but actors” in relief efforts, Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, told reporters in New York.
The success of the initiative hinges on community organization, she stressed.
It will focus first on Carrefour-Feuilles, a neighbourhood just south of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and will soon be rolled out in other hard-hit areas, including Leogane and Jacmel.
As part of a wider UN flash appeal, UNDP is calling for over $36 million and is working with the Haitian Government and partner agencies to assess damages and needs and devise plans for rebuilding.
Miss Clark underscored the enormity of the challenges ahead, pointing out that “the overall task of rebuilding a devastated capital – with a population of this size – is huge.”
UNDP’s past cash-for-work schemes in Haiti have laid the groundwork for the programme currently under way.
Following the succession of hurricanes that battered the impoverished nation in 2008 that claimed 800 lives and left 165,000 families homeless, the agency launched cash-for-work projects to help people rebuild their lives.
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