OTTAWA—Canada will provide an additional $400 million in aid and debt relief to earthquake-devastated Haiti over the next two years, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda announced on Wednesday.
“Recovery and reconstruction will take years and Canada will stand behind these efforts supporting the Haiti Action Plan and the priorities of the Haitian Government,” she said at United Nations headquarters in New York City during the International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti.
“In all of our support for Haiti, we must demonstrate accountability, transparency and results to the international community, to Canadians and, in particular, to the people of Haiti.”
The Haitian government’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development requested US$3.86 billion over the next 18 months.
An assessment carried out by a team of some 250 Haitian and international experts estimated that US$11.5 billion is required to cover the total cost of reconstruction.
By Wednesday evening 59 countries or international institutions had pledged more than US$9.8 billion over the next two years and beyond.
After a 10-year reconstruction and recovery period, the goal is to turn Haiti into an emerging country by 2030.
Amid the outpouring of aid for Haiti following the January 12 earthquake, “Individual Canadians generously donated $220 million in support of eligible Canadian charitable organizations, an amount that will be matched by the Government,” said Minister Oda.
Of the $220 million matching fund, half will go toward the $400 million pledge for programs to be coordinated with international partners and the Haitian government.
The Canadian International Development Agency will direct the remaining half toward NGOs and institutions providing aid in Haiti, she said.
Canada had earlier provided $85 million worth of immediate humanitarian aid in January. In February, Canada announced up to $12 million to build temporary facilities for key Haitian government departments.
Canada’s contributions make the country “the largest per capita donor in the world,” said Minister Cannon at the conference.
“This is not the end of a process but the beginning of a long road with the international community towards Haiti’s long-term recovery,” he said, adding that Haitians must be in the leadership.
The World Bank announced Wednesday that it would write off US$39 million, totally cancelling the remaining debt owed to the bank by Haiti. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty issued a statement noting that financial contributions from Canada and 13 other countries made this possible.
Canada cancelled all debt owed by Haiti to Canada last year.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, now the U.N.’s special envoy for Haiti, will co-chair a new international commission to coordinate and deploy the aid funding.
The World Bank will administer a multi-donor Haitian Reconstruction Fund to be established to ensure sound fiscal management.
Canada co-chaired the New York conference with other leading donors to Haiti that included Brazil, the European Union, France, and Spain. The United States and U.N. co-hosted the event in cooperation with the Haitian government. Representatives from some 150 countries and 15 world bodies attended.
The earthquake directly affected about 1.5 million people, representing 15 percent of the population in the impoverished country, according to the action plan. It killed more than 300,000 people while injuring a similar number and leaving 1.3 million living in temporary shelters.
“As the rains are starting and the hurricane season is approaching, the shelter needs are especially pressing,” said Helen Clark, Chair of the U.N. Development Group, at the donors’ conference.
“It is critical that the pledges made towards the [US]$3.86 billion required over the next 18 months to get recovery going are quickly fulfilled, and are additional to the emergency response.”
“Our goal is not just to rebuild. It is to ‘build back better,’” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his opening remarks to the conference.
“What we envision, today, is wholesale national renewal, a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations.”