PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives of 54 countries and 35 international organizations participating in the World Summit for the Future of Haiti selected specific projects, with a cost of $11 billion that will be paid through their donations, renewing their commitments to the reconstruction of the earthquake stricken Caribbean nation.
Participants also agreed to provide enough funds to alleviate Haiti's deteriorating fiscal situation, established a fiduciary trust in the World Bank to receive donations and secured new pledges to help the country recover from the January 12 earthquake, which left more than 200,000 dead and 1.3 million homeless.
Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, who hosted the event, called the summit a success, saying that it advanced the work done previously in New York by having donors select the specific projects they will finance for a total likely to surpass $11 billion.
The announcement came as a relief to those concerned that the interest of the international community had began to wane in the midst of the world's economic problems.
During his opening speech, President Fernandez had made a dramatic appeal, giving Haiti's case a greater sense of urgency.
"In only 30 seconds, more than 300,000 people were injured; in just 30 seconds, more than one million people lost their homes; in just 30 seconds, Haiti lost 120 percent of its GDP; in just 30 seconds thousands of children were made orphans, thousands lost their most close relatives, and thousands were left in anguish," Fernandez said.
The head-of-state also stressed that while there has been a great outpouring from the international community, there have been delays in the disbursement of the pledged help, at a time when the Haitian government is facing a drastic shortfall in its fiscal revenues caused by the quake.
Fortunately, donors also agreed to provide Haiti with enough funds to cover the deficit.
"In light of today's work, President Rene Preval can now bring the good news to the Haitian people that in the fringes of this summit the budget deficit issue for 2010 has been completely covered," Fernandez added.
The head of state explained that the shortfall will be financed with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union, which will each provide 50 million dollars and the World Bank will provide another 30 million dollars.
Another portion of around 127 million dollars would be provided by the Venezuelan government through the "solidarity fund of fuel imports" the South American nation pledged to set up to support Haiti.
The Venezuelan pledge, which in addition to the fund also includes the forgiveness of hundreds of millions in debt Haiti owed to state-ran Petrocaribe, is one of the most generous one secured during the summit, amounting to $2.65 billion.
Most of the projects discussed during the gathering had a long-term vision attached to them. As its name suggests, the Solidarity Beyond the Crisis Summit was designed to address not only what the country needs in order to recover from the earthquake, but also what is needed for its long-term economic growth.
Haitian President Rene Preval said that this includes the strengthening of the country's democratic institutions, to help the nation leave behind its chronic political instability.
"Without political stability, without democracy, our project is doomed to fail," Preval stated in front of representatives.
He added that after the earthquake there has been a lot of talk in his country about developing a more strict building code. "But if we want to reconstruct our homes so they can withstand natural catastrophes, we must also call for the reconstruction of a society and a political system that can be resilient… The people in Haiti demand a political system that is earthquake proof, and that is called democracy, with social justice, effective administration and that is chosen by the people."
During the summit, the participants also discussed the urgent need to find homes for those displaced by the earthquake.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged participants of the Haiti Summit to come up with ideas on how to protect the homeless amid predictions that 2010 will see a very intense hurricane season.
"We have more than one million people that are currently living in very precarious conditions, in camping tents," Clinton, who is the United Nation's Special Envoy to Haiti. "We can not allow for people to die during this Hurricane Season because they inhabit temporary dwellings."
The Haitian government and the international community have been working on designing areas where the displaced might be taken in case of a hurricane, but there is yet much to be done since there are a limited number of buildings left in the country that are able to withstand hurricane force winds.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Caribbean and the U.S.'s East Coast will see the development of between 14 and 23 named storms in the season beginning on June first. Eight to 14 of those are expected to become hurricanes. The numbers are just shy of the 29 storms and 15 hurricanes registered in 2005, year that produced the likes of Katrina and Wilma.
SOURCE World Summit for the Future of Haiti