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EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Building Back Better in Haiti
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Civil Society Outreach Conference with Haiti's SE Clinton
New York Haiti's Donors Summit, 25 March 2010
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to be here today with the Government of Haiti, the Office of the UN Special Envoy, InterAaction, and all of you. A week before the conference on the future of Haiti, the best way to express what brings us together is Haiti´s own motto: “L’Union fait la force.”
We have seen in Europe, in our own recent history, what a difference solidarity can make for millions of people. We are determined to do our best now to be part of the union which will make a difference in the lives of children, women, and men who have survived the earthquake – and, many of them, also decades of man-made destructions.
Next week will be time for financial pledges – and I can assure you the European people will, as always, show generosity for those in need. We provide 60% of development assistance worldwide, more than twice our share in the world economy. Even now, during the worst crisis of the last 50 years, we stick to our commitments to make the world a better place for all.
Today I will focus on a different pledge – to the principles we will apply in our support for Haiti.
First, we will follow the needs. We will strive to provide humanitarian support across the country, not just in Port-au-Prince – to Jacmel, Léogane, and other affected communities, and to areas where people moved to live with families and friends. More than 500,000 left Port-au-Prince – we want to follow them, with food, water, medical care, but also schools and jobs, so the humanitarian support turns into support for decentralization at the next stage of development.
Second, we will empower people. Haitian communities have shown an impressive resilience over the last decades -- and over the weeks following the earthquake. We will support government ownership of plans for development, but also voice for the Haitian people and programmes that reach communities -- through cash-for-work, support for agriculture, and microcredits.
Third, we will subscribe to a long-term approach to Haiti’s development. We will invest in social, physical, and institutional infrastructure. We also will support environmental sustainability – reforestation, off-grid renewable energy, and increased resilience to natural disasters.
Fourth, we will make sure there is a strong foundation for contingency planning, starting with the preparation for the rainy and hurricane season. This will allow emergency stocks to be in place, critical infrastructure maintained, and people moved out from where they should not be in the case of disaster, such as low lying areas.
Last, but not least, we will stand for commitment to effectiveness and results. Today we are the number one donor in terms of volume of the aid we provide world wide, we want to be number one in terms of results. In this respect, we will focus on:
We also embrace a “whole of island” approach. The new brotherhood we are now witnessing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic represents the best chance in decades to rebuild relations between the two neighbors.
Let me finish with a memory from my trip to Haiti. When I flew over Léogane, it reminded me very much of the European cities after the Second World War: buildings and lives completely destroyed. Like Europe then, today Haiti starts from scratch, but not alone. Building the whole of the country – and building it better than it was – is the very best memorial for the nearly 300,000 people who lost their lives on January 12.