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Crippling 'indecision' blamed for slow Haiti recovery

by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Jan 5, 2011
One year after Haiti's earthquake, only five percent of the rubble has been cleared as crippling "indecision" has stalled reconstruction efforts, a new report by humanitarian group Oxfam said.

"This has been a year of indecision and it has put Haiti's recovery on hold," said Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam in Haiti.

"Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities and have not effectively coordinated amongst themselves or worked with the Haitian government."

The report was issued ahead of the January 12 anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti, killing more than 220,000 people and leaving much of the capital Port-au-Prince in ruins.

Nearly one million people are still living in tents or under tarpaulins, "and hundreds of thousands of others who are living in the city's ruins still do not know when they will be able to return home," Van Hauwermeiren said.

Large-scale home building cannot start "before the enormous amount of rubble is cleared" and just 15 percent of the required basic and temporary housing has been constructed, the report said.

Oxfam blamed the lack of progress on the "crippling combination" of Haitian government indecision, poor coordination from the rich donor countries and a lackluster effort by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.

The Commission, led by former US President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, was set up to help coordinate the flow of funds towards reconstruction projects.

"So far, the Commission has failed to live up to its mandate," Oxfam said.

"Many Haitian officials still do not have the technical ability to lead projects, and almost no major reconstruction projects have started. The Commission is a key element for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision and delay."

Of the 2.1 billion dollars that governments pledged for reconstruction in 2010, only 42 percent had been delivered by late 2010, according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.

Most donors, for example, "provided funds for transitional housing but very little money for clearing rubble or repairing houses," Oxfam said.

"Rebuilding this shattered country will not happen overnight, but there are key decisions on jobs, clearing rubble, house repairs and allocating land for people who will not be able to return to their homes that can and must be made urgently," Van Hauwermeiren said.

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