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World Bank Holds High-level Meeting to Discuss Haiti's Urgent Needs

September 14, 2010

MIAMI, September 14, 2010 - The World Bank discussed ways to advance Haiti's urgent reconstruction needs in the areas of debris removal and housing following a high-level meeting between Bank and government officials.

Regional vice president Pamela Cox met with Haiti's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive in the context of the Americas Conference taking place in Miami to address innovation in the region.

Cox said regional progress would not be complete without reconstruction and development in Haiti.

"We looked at ways to speed up the pace of progress eight months after Haiti's enormous tragedy which is still being felt across Haiti and the region," said Cox.

In a moving address to attending regional leaders, Prime Minister Bellerive noted that despite progress being made, recovery and reconstruction challenges in Haitiare still huge.

By way of example, Bellerive said that more than 50 percent of earthquake debris still has to be removed and that housing needs for more than 1.5 million displaced Haitians are vast.

"That means finding homes for 400,000 families at a cost that we cannot afford," said Bellerive.

Bellerive also shed light on the plight of the majority of Haitians who are still without a job.

"Any plan of action and any evaluation of progress has to consider the fact that countless jobs were lost and businesses were decimated," Bellerive said. "At this very moment while business are trying to get back on their feet 70% of Haitians are jobless," he said.

Cox explained that the Bank's short-term priorities in Haiti include: housing, debris removal and getting more schools to reopen this academic year. And long-term the back bone of Haiti's recovery will be job generation as result of attracting private sector investments, particularly in the garment industry, and ensuring sustained progress in fiscal and financial systems, she said.

But she also noted that while moving quickly to rebuild Haiti is important, producing results is paramount.

"After a tragedy like this, everyone wants to see things move at a very quick pace –she argued- "but the magnitude of the disaster means that it will take more than months to rebuild Haiti. We must also ensure funds provided show results."

The Bank, Cox said, will continue to support the Government of Haiti, and the reconstruction process under the leadership of the Interim Haitian Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) headed by former President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Bellerive.