Report to Congress: Assessment of the U.S. Government Haiti Rebuilding and Development Strategy
The Senate report accompanying the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-212) (S. Rept. 111-188, pgs. 62-63), calls for the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committee not later than 90 days after the enactment of the act, and every 180 days thereafter until September 30, 2012, which shall also be posted in a timely manner on a single, consolidated publicly accessible website in a detailed, program-by-program format, that includes a copy of the Haiti Rebuilding and Development Strategy. The report is to include any significant modifications of the Strategy during the preceding 180 days, and an explanation of such changes; a description, by goal and objective, of the implementation of the Strategy; an assessment of progress, or lack thereof, during the preceding 180 days toward meeting the goals and objectives, benchmarks, and timeframes specified in the Strategy, including an assessment of the performance of the Government of Haiti (GOH); a description of U.S. government programs contributing to the achievement of the goals and objectives including the amounts obligated and expended on such programs during the preceding six months; and an assessment of efforts to coordinate U.S. government programs with assistance provided by other donors and implementing partners, including significant gaps in donor assistance.
The requested report, prepared by the Department of State, is being submitted to the Committee on Appropriations and the Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Appropriations and the Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs of the Senate. The information in this report may also be found at: www.state.gov/s/hsc/.
The Post-Earthquake U.S. Government Haiti Strategy sets forth goals for the U.S. to pursue in helping Haiti build back better after the January 2010 earthquake. The U.S. government Haiti Post-earthquake strategy focuses on three geographic areas and targets assistance to infrastructure and energy, food and economic security, health and other basic services, and governance and rule of law.
As Haiti marked the second anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake it celebrated the achievement for the first time in six years of an elected president, an approved Prime Minister (and cabinet), a sitting legislature and a quorum for Supreme Court business. However, in February 2012, after four months in office and under pressure, the newly appointed Prime Minister submitted his resignation. The U.S. government has urged the Executive branch and the Parliament to work together swiftly to identify and confirm a new Prime Minister. The protracted absence of an empowered prime minister will impede progress in the implementation of the Post-Earthquake U.S. Government Haiti Strategy. On May 14 the government of new Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe took office.
In addition, the legislative mandate of the main vehicle for foreign assistance donor coordination, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), lapsed in October 2011. In the interim, a shared commitment to country-led planning has resulted in representatives from Haiti’s twelve largest donor governments (all of whom were part of the IHRC), and the government of Haiti, to coordinate investments.
Pillar A: Infrastructure and Energy:
The U.S. government’s resolution to improve Haiti’s infrastructure and energy continues by supporting the repair, rehabilitation, and upgrade of the five electrical substations in Port-au-Prince. This program was delayed by four months due to an award protest that resulted in a stop-work order against the awarded contract, which the U.S. Government Accountability Office found in USAID’s favor. A U.S. government contractor is providing management services for the national electric utility. In addition, the installation of the generators and other equipment at Caracol Industrial Park is progressing aggressively so that the facility can be turned over to the anchor tenant, Sae-A on schedule and the facility can be inaugurated in October 2012.
The U.S. government will support the electrification of approximately 1,800 houses in and around Caracol via the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which will hire local Haitians to do distribution line erection and stringing for the project. A program to improve cooking technologies launched in February 2012 will target 10,000 street vendors and 800 schools, orphanages, and other energy-intensive entities in greater Port-au-Prince, and will also assist the GOH in building a legal and regulatory framework for the use of liquefied petroleum gas.
As previously reported, the U.S. government, through the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF), is providing assistance to an ongoing UNDP rubble removal project, known as Debris II. This initiative is removing rubble in the high-priority Port-au-Prince neighborhoods of Turgeau, Petionville, Bel Air, and Fort National. By the end of January 2012, approximately 153,000 cubic meters of debris from these four neighborhoods had been removed. The U.S. government transferred 23 crushers to the UNDP in March 2012 to support the projects’ rubble recycling activities. With the contribution of Debris II, the U.S. government has removed 2.31 million cubic meters of rubble since the January 2010 earthquake; in total, over 5 million cubic meters have been removed by Haitians and the international community.
Pillar B: Food and Economic Security:
U.S. government funds are supporting food security through the Feed the Future (FtF) West Initiative, which recently supported the winter bean campaign, and procured tractors for selected farmer associations. FtF West is rehabilitating the 900kw Bas Boen power plant to run pumps for regular irrigation water for 2,000 hectares. In addition to supporting corn, rice and plantain production in the Cul de Sac and Saint-Marc corridors a mango processing center is under construction in the Mirebalais area. Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, five Ministry of Agriculture employees were pre-selected for interviews for a master’s degree scholarship program.
Funding support from the U.S. government for economic security enabled the February 2012 launch of a Pan American Development Foundation program to attract foreign investment in Haitian small- and micro-enterprises. The program has launched a Business Plan Competition through which it will begin providing funds to winning entrepreneurs in July 2012. Through its support to the Batey Relief Alliance, the U.S. government is also promoting women’s economic empowerment by directing technical assistance and resources to vulnerable women in underserved border regions in Haiti.
Pillar C: Health and Other Basic Services:
A Health Partnership Framework between the U.S. government and the GOH laying out mutual responsibilities to ensure transition of U.S. government-run programs to the GOH is in the final stages of preparation. A request for proposal for a new health system strengthening award, which will support the Ministry of Health (MOH) to build a strengthened and sustainable health information system, is also being finalized.
Three major projects are underway to rebuild and reform management of public health infrastructure: the State University Hospital, the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy and School of Medical Technology, and the National Blood Bank. Existing health facilities are also being renovated in the development corridors and the U.S. government is integrating existing programming in the corridors into functioning referral and counter-referral networks, while supporting the MOH to supervise and manage the referral network.
USAID recently made awards for three of the four components of planned disability programming. These activities will train technicians and therapists; build the capacity of the MOH and Ministry of Social Affairs to develop legislation, guidelines and policies that promote inclusion of people with disabilities; and strengthen the capacity of and build alliances between disabled people’s organizations, the GOH, and civil society. In December 2011, a follow-on project was awarded to provide female survivors of sexual violence and other at-risk women better access to health services, as well as link these women to income-producing projects, vocational education, and information on human rights.
The MOH, supported by CDC, launched an intermediate level Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training program in October 2011. Students are preparing for the third period of training on outbreak response, surveillance, and epidemiologic methods. These students will engage in active disease surveillance and response as their fellowship program continues through 2012. Since cholera broke out in October 2010 the U.S. government has worked directly with partners (the MOH, the National Laboratory and civil society) to focus on preventing cholera transmission through community outreach, distribution of chlorine products, communication campaigns targeting most at-risk areas, training of medical and outreach staff, ensuring availability of a network of oral rehydration points and treatment facilities, ensuring preparedness for emergency response, and improving access to safe household drinking water. While the cholera epidemic caused people to stay away from health centers for issues they perceived to be less urgent, the HIV testing of pregnant women reached an all-time high in 2011 (with 169,493 women tested) as antenatal clinics were able to maintain regular operations.
In the education sector the U.S. government is focusing on improving early grade reading skills through the development of learning materials and in conjunction with training teachers and involving the community. In accordance with the U.S. government strategy, activities are being supported beyond early grade reading in targeted ways, such as through the U.S. government’s $10 million contribution to the HRF to support IDB education projects: building seven schools, training 77 teachers, providing over 14,000 school kits to students, and supporting the GOH’s Ministry of Education through capacity building.
Pillar D: Governance, Rule of Law and Security:
Improved governance and rule of law are critical to Haiti’s stability and sustainable development. The U.S. government is supporting a program to strengthen the legislative, oversight, and representative capacity of Haiti’s Parliament. Priority activities include assisting Parliament to improve its own internal processes, its lawmaking abilities, and its capacity to analyze the GOH budget and monitor spending. To better interact with the public, the program is also providing assistance to maintain and update Parliament’s website while training parliamentary staff to take over this role.
The political challenges faced in Haiti are likely to significantly delay re-building the permanent legislative complex destroyed by the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Haitian Legislative leaders, using extra budgetary funds, have decided to modify the architecture of the new temporary Haitian Parliament complex funded by USAID and inaugurated in November 2011 to prepare the legislative branch for an extended stay. Improvements include adding separate offices, committee hearing rooms, and private toilets for legislative leaders to the building, and extending the perimeter wall to enhance security.
U.S. government funds are being used to improve accountability by strengthening the GOH’s integrated financial management system. The Economic Crimes Team (ECT) assisted in drafting reform legislation including amendments to the money laundering law, a new law regulating gaming and changes to the Penal Procedure Code; however, enactment of these reforms has been hampered by political instability. U.S. government support has assisted units of the HNP and Ministry of Justice to develop their capacity to investigate financial crimes in which units have referred a number of cases for prosecution and have assisted U.S. authorities in several cases; however, successful prosecutions in Haiti have been hampered by the weakness of the Haitian judicial system.
Cooperation from the Haitian financial intelligence and financial crimes investigation units trained by the U.S. government resulted in a Florida federal court handing down a 15-year sentence for bribery, the longest ever imposed in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As a result of this cooperation, the former president of Terra Telecommunications Corp. was sentenced in August 2011 for his role in a scheme to pay bribes to officials at Haiti Teleco, a state-owned telecommunications company. U.S. government financial support has also assisted the Central Bank in improving its oversight of Haitian banks’ compliance with anti-money laundering laws. Units are being developed to collect and analyze suspicious transaction reports and send and receive data and analysis from banks and authorities in other countries. ECT is closely coordinating its work with the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy.
With U.S. government support, the Director General of tax administration’s internal control unit completed the first audit of the department – which is responsible for direct contact with taxpayers, accepting payments and processing declarations – and began planning the procurement unit audit. As a result, a series of one-week specialized trainings for auditors in telecommunications, insurance, financial services and construction continued allowing the tax administration to meet the Ministry of Finance’s urgent request to review the tax returns of firms in the mobile telecoms industry.
U.S. assistance has also supported the drafting of a revision to the outdated fiscal code pertaining to non-governmental organizations. Many non-governmental organizations have not been withholding and reporting taxes on employees, are engaged in profit-making activities which are not taxed, and are abusing customs exemptions. The draft, though still under review by Department of State and Treasury officials, has been presented to the Ministry and to the General Directorate of Taxes.
Since October 2010, the U.S. government has assisted Haitian judicial authorities to reconstitute 18,500 damaged case files from the Port-au-Prince Prosecutors’ Office and Court of First Instance and train clerks in a new filing system, helping to improve case management. In cooperation with local bar associations, the U.S. government supports free legal aid programs for underserved populations, including legal education, assistance in filing complaints and defense attorneys for criminal trials. To help reduce prolonged pretrial detention at the Petionville Women’s Prison, U.S. government support has helped to move 183 cases toward final adjudication since October 2010, resulting in the release of 60 women being held illegally and a 20 percent overall reduction in the number of pre-trial detainees at the prison.
In parallel, a cooperative agreement to protect the rights of vulnerable women, children and youth, was awarded in March 2012 to strengthen the legislative framework and build the capacity of GOH institutions to prevent and respond to abuse and build the capacity of families, communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the GOH to assist survivors of abuse. While Haiti does not yet have anti-trafficking legislation, the U.S. government is funding a legal trafficking in persons (TIP) expert to work with the GOH on enacting and implementing pending legislation. Setbacks caused by the resignation of the former Prime Minister have delayed this endeavor. However, some progress has been made on inserting and strengthening penalties for TIP offenders in Haiti’s criminal code.
This new award will build on work undertaken since January 2011 which has identified 452 restavèk children victims of trafficking for direct assistance. Of these, 170 children have been returned and are being reintegrated and 282 children are receiving assistance and family tracing. Twenty child trafficking victims were provided direct assistance in the Dominican Republic before being returned to their community of origin in Haiti. U.S. government funding also supports a Safe House in Ounaminthe, where 114 beneficiaries received shelter, medical, legal, and psychological assistance since the project began in January 2011and the development of a Train-the-Trainers curriculum for judges and magistrates that will assist them in better identifying and prosecuting TIP cases.
Security goals continue to be addressed through rule of law and security activities. During the last six months, the perimeter wall, chapel, and pavilion at the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy were completed and 100 new counternarcotics officers concluded six months of specialized training. U.S. government funding continues to support new HNP cadets entering the Academy, assisting in procuring uniforms, food, equipment, and supplies for the students. The U.S. government is also funding the deployment of twelve NYPD officers on ninety-day rotations to provide training to HNP officers. In addition, support also strengthened the HNP’s counternarcotics unit through the procurement of new vehicles to ease movement of the unit.
Funding from the U.S. government facilitated the deployment of police and correction officers in support of MINUSTAH -- currently 88 police officers and seven corrections officers are deployed. Work to repair/reconstruct a police sub-station in Grande Ravine recently began and select correctional facilities were identified for improvements. Plans to construct two new prisons, including one new women’s prison have advanced, despite challenges in getting land with clear title. The U.S. supported cross-training sessions on counternarcotics and anti-money laundering as well courses on ethics and gender-based violence training. These training sessions were targeted at members of the police and judiciary, and represented the first joint training of police and magistrates.