PORT-AU-PRINCE, September 9, 2011 – A few months ago Jeanne Bousiko was counting her blessings after being told that her house had been spared from the destruction of the January 2010 earthquake, and that it was safe for her family to live there.
She got the good news from a team of engineers that assessed her house for safety as part of a World Bank-supported evaluation of 400,000 buildings in the wake of the quake that killed 230,000 people and left thousands more homeless.
Hundreds of Haitian residents like Bousiko can share her relief today on account of a housing program that follows this assessment. The ‘Port-au-Prince' Neighborhood Reconstruction and Housing Program’ funded by a US$30 million World Bank IDA grant and US$65 million grant from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF), will help families rebuild their houses and leave behind the tents they have been calling home since the quake struck.
Launched in the hard hit Delmas 32 municipality, the program seeks to create safe conditions for the return of residents of some of the most severely affected areas in the Haitian capital. “We all agree that by moving people out of camps and creating conditions for their safe return to their neighborhoods, Haiti will take a major step toward a better future,” said World Bank regional vice president Pamela Cox at the launch ceremony attended by representatives of President Michel Martelly, Delmas mayor Wilson Jeudy, and WB vice president for Concessional Finance and Global Partnerships Axel van Trotsenburg.
Cox noted that this initiative is more than simply a resettlement project, but an effort to improve the urban environment and to increase the level of services for the communities affected by the earthquake. More importantly, it is the foundation for the sustainable revival of earthquake stricken areas, she added.
“In the coming three years we will upgrade a number of neighborhoods. We want to bring broader access to services and improved infrastructure to about 250,000 people and rebuild houses for 15,000 households,” Cox said, adding that in order to carry this out the Bank will tap into a portion of the resources the International Development Association (IDA) just allocated to Haiti –a Special Crisis Response window of US$ 500 million.
Long Term Recovery
On a broader level, the World Bank wants to support the government’s recovery agenda by focusing on key projects to spur development, such as housing, education, disaster risk, job creation, and agriculture.
As part of this plan, Bank officials reaffirmed their conviction that all efforts are needed to bring Haiti's 400,000 out of school children into the classroom. Its Education for All project (EFA) has already financed private tuition for 175,000 school-age children and trained over 3,000 teachers.
Cox announced the Bank's intention to provide a US$70 million grant –to be reviewed by the Board later in the year. It will contribute to the popular program aimed at providing schooling for all Haitian children.
The World Bank high-level delegation met with President Martelly, and other high level officials. It visited Port-au-Prince’s worst affected areas to make sure that the Bank’s projects are effectively reaching Haitians like Jeanne Bousiko.
Stops included the Ministry of public Works' situation room –the command center for disaster management and reconstruction operations- and the Truitier landfill where debris from the earthquake is being recycled in an environmentally safe manner.
Local residents, who used to scavenge on the dump site but now hold jobs sorting debris expressed their satisfaction with the current Truitier management. “They don't burn garbage close to our homes and they give us jobs. They even repaired our soccer field and furnished our movie house. No company before them has done this,” said a local resident.
Over the last year, the Bank has also helped remove 100,000 cubic meters of trash and debris from key drainage canals in Port-au-Prince, reducing flood risk to camps in the capital.
To help Haiti recover from the January 12 earthquake, the World Bank Group pledged support for US$479 million over 24 months. As of August 2011, the World Bank has delivered US$410 million (86 percent) of its pledge in the form of new funding, disbursements, private sector support, and including the cancellation of Haiti’s US$38 million debt to the World Bank.