Speeches & Transcripts

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Opening Remarks at World Bank Conference on Clean Water, Improved Sanitation, and Better Health for Haiti

October 9, 2014

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim World Bank Conference on Clean Water, Improved Sanitation, and Better Health for Haiti Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for joining me today, as we work together to provide clean water, improved sanitation, and better health for the people of Haiti.  Prime Minister Lamothe, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and I are deeply committed to these objectives. 

With the support from development partners, the Haitian government responded swiftly and efficiently to the terrible cholera epidemic that struck the country in 2010. New cases decreased from 29,000 a month in 2011 to about 1,200 in 2013. Deaths have decreased from about 4,000 during the first year of the epidemic to 34 so far in 2014. 

This is an achievement of which Haiti and its development partners can be proud. Yet, even as we bring the threat of cholera under control, Haiti continues to face the challenge of eradicating other water- and excreta-related diseases. These diseases cause more deaths in children under five years of age than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. They’re also associated with an estimated 50 percent of the country’s childhood malnutrition. 

By extending our fight against cholera to all water borne diseases, we will improve access to healthcare and strengthen Haiti’s water and sanitation systems. 

As a development community, we must support universal access to clean water, sanitation, and other basic health services.  The government has laid out a ten-year plan to achieve this goal in Haiti. And I call on all of you in this room to make that plan a success.

At the Bank Group, we will continue to support and strengthen Haiti’s health sector, including in its response to epidemics like cholera. Last year, we approved $90 million to health sector projects in Haiti, and we will contribute a further $50 million under IDA 17 to provide water and sanitation in the rural areas and small towns of priority communes. IFC, our private sector arm, will continue supporting the expansion of private water kiosks in urban areas, and our Water and Sanitation Program will place leading international water and sanitation experts in the country to help drive progress.

Achieving universal access won’t be cheap. It’s going to cost about $310 million over the next three years to provide water, sanitation, and health services to two million Haitians who currently lack it – and that’s only a fifth of the country’s population. But the people of Haiti deserve it; indeed, they deserve much more. 

That’s why I’m pleased to be here today to have such committed leaders in the struggle to provide health and sanitation in Haiti. In particular, I’d like to thank the Prime Minister for his leadership and also United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, for the UN’s tireless efforts to support these objectives through UNICEF and PAHO. The IADB who, together with the Government of Spain, is helping DINEPA provide water to millions of people in Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince.  I also want to salute the ongoing efforts in health and in water of USAID, The government of Canada, and the French Development Agency. And also, I would like to thank the government of the Dominican Republic for their strong support. Finally, I want to recognize the substantial contribution of the NGO community to both delivering services and understanding how to do it effectively.

On a very personal note, I’ve had a love affair with Haiti for most of my adult life. We should have done this long ago. I am very encouraged that it looks like finally we will be able to provide clean water for all in Haiti. 

Thank you.