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Haiti says it needs $11.5 billion to rebuild after earthquake

Twenty-eight delegations from various countries and organizations are wrapping up a two-day meeting in the Dominican Republic today. Haiti told its partners it needs $11.5 billion to rebuild from earthquake damage.

By Staff writer / March 17, 2010

Earthquake survivors carry tarps, blankets and hygiene kits during aid distribution by the Red Cross in Port-au-Prince, March 10. Haiti told its partners it needs $11.5 billion to rebuild from January's earthquake damage.

Esteban Felix/AP

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The Haiti government said that it will need $11.5 billion to rebuild after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 left more than 220,000 dead and large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins.

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The estimate comes from a draft Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment (PDNA) that was released as 28 delegations from various countries and organizations wrapped up a two-day meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, today. The assessment will be presented to a donor’s conference for Haiti on March 31 in New York.

“The earthquake has created an unprecedented situation, amplified by the fact that it struck the country’s most populous region and its economic and administrative centre,” reads the introduction.

The draft lays out specifics on what Haiti’s financial needs will be over the next three years to rebuild the homes, schools, roads, government offices and businesses destroyed. But it also lays out a vision for a new Haiti, which includes a stronger sense of government and justice and a plan to decentralize power and economic opportunity to lessen the pressures on Port-au-Prince.

Key word: decentralize

It is a vision that is line with what groups working in Haiti, from large to small, see as the path forward.

“I definitely feel there will be quite a need to decentralize, not just government agencies but economic opportunities, so not everything is in Port-Au-Prince,” says Chris Beyer, the program manager for the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas, whose group has worked in Haiti for 25 years.

The report was presented by the Haitian government, and included input from a slew of international organizations, including the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations.

It puts losses and damages at $7.9 billion – which represents 120 percent of the country’s GDP. Seventy percent of the loss was from the private sector, while $2.37 billion was public, such as roads, schools, and hospitals.

$11.5 billion requested

The report says that 50 percent of the $11.5 billion requested, which it emphasized is just an estimate, will go toward social programs; 17 percent for infrastructure; and 15 percent for environmental and disaster analysis.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians were displaced from the capital in the wake of the tragedy, and the report discusses building outside the capital as a key to reconstruction.

“Following the quake, more than 500,000 people were displaced to secondary towns. This new distribution of the population is an opportunity to develop other poles of growth,” it states.

The draft also discusses modernizing the justice system and public security offices to regain trust in citizens. But that might be a tough task ahead, as up to 1.3 million were left homeless and many remain in makeshift camps, a grave concern ahead of the rainy season.

Most residents, like Domas Lapaix, a Haitian who lost his home and is now living with his five kids in a friend’s tent, care more about their short-term needs.

“I don’t care anything about the government," he says. "It never represented anything for me. The only thing I want is food and a secure place for me and my family to live.”

--- Kathie Klarreich contributed from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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