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An Inclusive Public Policy Roadmap for Haiti’s Metropolitan Region

March 14, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The urban population has exploded since 2010 and is estimated at 53 percent of the total population, with the majority living in Port-au-Prince.
  • At the First National Urban Forum, stakeholders agreed on a roadmap outlining the urban goals and strategies to be pursued.
  • The Unit for Housing and Public Building Construction (UCLBP) won an international prize for its progress in urban planning.

In terms of shifting demographics, 2010 was a pivotal year for Haiti.  After the earthquake, the urban population exploded, especially in Port-au-Prince, particularly with the urban sprawl created by the 1.5 million displaced persons.  The biggest challenge was relocating residents to very limited rental stock and space, which was compounded by another factor—providing the State with central authorities to handle accommodation, urban policy, and housing, as well as seismic building codes.

Four years later, major results have been achieved—90 percent of displaced persons have been relocated, many of them through innovative solutions involving assistance with the rental and construction of multifamily homes, an effort led by the Unit for Housing and Public Building Construction. The first National Housing and Habitat Policy drafted by this institution won the backing of the Government in October 2013.

A new national building code and guidelines for constructing safe and sturdy hospitals were published by the Technical Building Assessment Office of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and Communication.  Neighborhoods have been spruced up.

One of the major projects still underway is the formulation of an urban policy to accompany urban growth in cities where facilities and planning are often deficient and virtually no consideration is given to climate and environmental risk management.  Individuals often take the place of the State, managing their living spaces and having little or no basic services.

There is an urgent need to formulate a joint project for the metropolitan region so that we do not simply have areas that are close to each other with residents living in separate enclaves (pockets of poverty, rural lifestyles transferred to the city, and the affluent living in gated communities)” explains Michèle Oriol, a sociologist and Executive Secretary of the Interministerial Committee for Territorial Planning (CIAT).

Last week, CIAT therefore organized the First National Urban Forum to hold general discussions on the topic “Building the City,” with an agenda that included workshops, conferences, and urban site visits.

Open Quotes

There is an urgent need to formulate a joint project for the metropolitan region. Close Quotes

Michèle Oriol
Executive Secretary of the Interministerial Committee for Territorial Planning

Discussions were held on March 12 and 13 with all urban planning stakeholders, who endorsed the “National Urban Forum Declaration” outlining the urban goals and strategies to be pursued.  This declaration will be submitted to the President and Prime Minister.

 “We, the participants, call on policymakers to consider the work done at this forum with the aim of formulating an urban public policy that vests citizens in urban areas with rights, with these rights extending to the formulation and implementation of appropriate public policies related to land access, housing, and public facilities, through the adoption of measures that foster citizen participation in the urban planning process." These were the opening lines of the declaration presented by an emotional Rose-May Guignard, an urban planner and organizer of the National Urban Forum.  

The other clauses pertain to urban growth in a context of shared socioeconomic development, the importance of community participation in urban affairs, and the creation of a regional government service by providing municipalities with a cadre of professionals with the requisite expertise.

The Minister of the Interior and Regional Governments, Mr. David Bazile, stressed the importance attached by the Government to local authorities and decentralization, while the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Karl Jean-Louis, noted his satisfaction with the diversity of stakeholders attending the forum as well as the representation of civil society, stating that the latter has an important role to play in ensuring proper policy implementation.

This forum served as a prelude to the World Urban Forum  to be held in Medellin, Colombia (April 5-11, 2014), at which the Unit for Housing and Public Building Construction will be honored for its outstanding work in urban development.

The World Bank sponsored the First National Urban Forum and continues to assist the Government in the areas of urban management and capacity building.