Haiti to face long reconstruction process: UN official

12:39, January 23, 2010      

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The reconstruction of Haiti will be a long and difficult process that requires years of efforts and billions of dollars, a senior UN official told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"I think that will be a very long period of time ... this devastation is enormous, enormous," said Rebecca Grynspan, assistant administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP) and director of regional bureau of Latin America and Caribbean.

But, given the help of the international community and efforts of the Haitian government, she voiced optimism. "We have to understand that the recovery will happen. I am optimistic."

While rescue teams from around the world are still fully engaged with more immediate search and rescue operations, the UNDP is already in charge of the early recovery effort.

"The most important part is the early recovery, that is what we are concentrating now," she said.

Working with other international relief agencies, the UNDP has started a program called Cash-for-Work, which offers each worker 5 dollars per day in the local currency, giving them 100 dollars per month assuming 20 days of work.

The program was a priority of UN 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.

"It is very important because it makes the population part of the effort that we are carrying out, and organizes communities and local governments," Grynspan said. "It's very important because it makes them actors in the whole humanitarian and rehabilitation effort."

"We are able, with the money we have mobilized up to now, to get 5O,000 temporary employments in the next two months. That will feed one quarter of a million people, if there are five members per family," she said.

That will not only be a relief for humanitarian effort, but also contribute to social stability by ensuring the population's participation of constructive activities, she stressed.

Besides the Cash-for-Work program, which remains the focus of the UNDP for the time being, the UN agency is also carrying out other relief programs in regions outside the capital of Port au Prince, including Gonaives, a city in northern Haiti.

"We are already in Gonaives, where we are continuing with programs that have to do with watershed preparations for the hurricane season that will be in Haiti in the next five months," she said.

On January 25, Canada will host an international conference of donors and international relief and humanitarian agencies in Montreal to reassess recovery and reconstruction efforts in Haiti after the earthquake there.

The international community is already assessing a preliminary plan of some 2 billion U.S. dollars to help rebuild Haiti, Grynspan said.

It is "very important that there will be an international conference for the reconstruction of Haiti," she said. But "the most important thing is that the pledges will happen and that what is offered is given."

The UNDP will be working with the World Bank, the European Union and other international partners to get a close estimate of the needs of the country for the long-term reconstruction, she added.

Source: Xinhua
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