The World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick emphasized his strong support for Haiti’s efforts to overcome poverty and recover from recent natural disasters as he completed a two-day visit to the country.
“The Haitian Government and all donors need to push forward on the broader development agenda, work together on recovery and reconstruction efforts, and foster a new vision for medium-term growth and development, drawing on Haiti’s own National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction,” Zoellick said.
On October 9, Zoellick announced US$25 million in additional emergency grants for Haiti to rebuild major bridges and complete other rehabilitation work on key infrastructure, as well as expand existing programs to help reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and strengthen its capacity to respond to them.
During his first visit to Haiti, Zoellick, accompanied by the World Bank’s Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Pamela Cox and Country Director for the Caribbean Yvonne Tsikata, underscored the Bank’s strong support for the Caribbean nation. He met with President René Préval, Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, and members of the cabinet, and discussed emergency recovery, the food crisis, economic perspectives, and medium- and long-term development plans.
"To respond to the natural disasters that have destroyed our country, my government has mobilized nearly US$ 200 million to cope with the emergency and distress of our citizens,” said Prime Minister Pierre-Louis. “Our primary objective, however, is to implement, in the framework of a national effort and with the support of the international community, a carefully prepared and sustainable reconstruction policy for our cities and countryside, to reduce their vulnerability,” she added
Zoellick also had the opportunity to witness first hand the extent of flooding damage in disaster-affected areas, including Gonaives, and saw the severe destruction in infrastructure, particularly of homes, bridges and roads.
“Haiti must be given a chance and donors therefore need to help the country move forward with inclusive development so that local people can take the lead in improving their lives,” Zoellick said.
While highlighting the need for reconstruction and a coordinated disaster response plan, President Zoellick also emphasized the importance of the country’s development agenda that includes boosting agriculture production, nutritional security, and improved education and health for all Haitians. His schedule in Port-au-Prince included a visit to a World Bank-sponsored school feeding program in Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s poorest areas. Zoellick also had constructive talks with representatives of the donor community, private sector leaders and members of civil society.
During a discussion with the media prior to his departure, Zoellick underlined Haiti’s development challenges and the country’s efforts to promote growth, overcome poverty, and improve the living standards of its people. He also reiterated the World Bank Group’s commitment to supporting these efforts.
The World Bank, mostly through the International Development Agency (IDA), the World Bank’s arm that provides interest-free loans and grants to low-income countries, has approved US$240 million in assistance for Haiti since 2005, including a recent US$10 million emergency grant to help the government respond to the food price crisis. This total does not include the US$25 million additional funds announced this month and about US$14 million of trust fund resources invested in Haiti.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, has invested some US$51 million in cellular telecoms, textiles, microfinance, and a trade line for a local bank.
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