Haitians say they are being 'excluded' from decisions on country's future

Haitians say they are being 'excluded' from decisions on country's future

By agency reporter
19 Mar 2010

More than 26 Haitian NGOs representing thousands of ordinary Haitian people have condemned recent international talks about the future of their earthquake shattered nation, saying they have been “totally excluded” from the discussions.

They also say that that their calls for a “new model of development” in Haiti are being ignored.

The Haitian organisations – many of whom have been assisted in the aftermath of the 12 January 2010 quake by the Dominican-led “Help Haiti” NGO coalition – issued a joint statement yesterday after high-ranking officials from a range of international organisations met to discuss initial plans for Haiti’s reconstruction in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo.

In the statement, the Haitian groups – including many well known Haitian human rights and development organisations – say: “The ongoing process [which will result in a reconstruction plan for Haiti] has been characterised by an almost total exclusion of Haitian social actors themselves and scant and disorganised participation of representatives from the Haitian state.”

They continue: “The path set out for Haiti’s reconstruction...cannot respond to the expectations of the Haitian people as it has not been conceived to stimulate development, but simply for ‘restoration’, even though the Haitian context demands a complete rethink of the development model.”

The high-level meeting, which took place over two days in Santo Domingo, included a number of representatives of Haiti's government, donor nations, multilateral lenders, UN agencies and aid groups, ahead of a scheduled March 31 donors’ conference in New York. The primary aim was to discuss the initial findings of the so-called Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which will pave the way for longer-term reconstruction.

At the meeting, donors pledged an initial sum of $3.8 billion over 18 months to finance Haiti’s recovery. But Haitian groups say the funds are being allocated with little regard for the needs and desires of the Haitian people themselves.

“It’s regrettable that the [Post Disaster Needs Assessment], produced by a group of 300 technocrats, was presented to donors, without having first engaged in a wide consultation process with Haitian social actors”, the statement says.

Instead of a return to ‘business as usual’ following the quake, the Haitian groups say they want to see “a new project for the Haitian nation, which includes serious strategies to overcome exclusion, political and economic dependence.”

This includes finding new ways to ensure political power and public services are 'decentralised' from the capital, Port au Prince, as well as improved education and healthcare.

Tim Aldred, advocacy manager of the UK-based Catholic-based development and social justice agency Progressio, said: “The involvement of Haitian civil society in these vital discussions has to be more than just lip service. These groups – who know the needs and priorities of the Haitian people better than anyone – clearly feel they are not being consulted.”

Aldred continued: “Efforts must be made to include their views and voices in the decisions which affect the future of Haiti. Consultation, whilst sometimes time consuming and challenging, is essential to ensure that these important decisions survive the test of time and are ultimately supported by Haitians themselves. After all, it is their country.”

Progressio (www.progressio.org.uk) says it has been working alongside many of the Haitian groups who have signed the joint statement, as part of the “Help Haiti” coalition.

The following Haitian organisations have signed the statement: PAPDA, JURISHA, ENFOFANM, AAR, Fondation TOYA, AFASDA, Gammit Timoun, GIDH Group entevansyon, MPP, CROSE, KSIL, KONAREPA, PADAD, MOREPLA, SOFA, Mouvement scolaire Foi et Joie, Media Alternative, Comission Episcopale Nationale Justice et Paix, CHANDEL, ICPJLDH, REBA, TKL, Cellule Réflexions et d’Actions Sj, Confédération des Haïtiens pour la Réconciliation, VEDEK and CODHA.

Read the full text of the Haitian NGOs’ statement here: http://bit.ly/bFap8C

[Ekk/3]

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