Haiti marked another milestone in its recovery from the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. On November 22nd of this year, in the presence of Haitian President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Garry Conill, the Haitian Parliament and the United States Government inaugurated a temporary building complex that will be the official center of legislative power.
The previous Parliament building partially collapsed during the 7.0 – magnitude earthquake of 2010. Two members of Parliament and thirty-two staff members were among the estimated 316,000 people who died in the disaster. Records and archives were buried, and representatives from both the Lower chamber and the Upper chamber were left without meeting and office space at a time of urgent need for efficient, responsive governance.
With the Parliament buildings too damaged to be rehabilitated, the U.S. government pledged to provide semi-permanent office space as a replacement. Until new quarters could be constructed, the Parliament worked out of the Police Academy, and then a damaged Parliament office building.
The new 1.9 million dollar Parliament complex, funded and constructed through the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of Transition Initiatives, was completed in October through a subcontract with TEMPO Construction, a Haitian firm. It will serve as home for Parliament for several years until a permanent National Assembly building can be constructed.
"The U.S. Government's partnership is with all branches of the Haitian government and the Haitian Parliament, which has a critical role in building a better Haiti, [and] now has a location befitting its importance to good governance on behalf of the Haitian people," said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten.
The site features two large semi-permanent steel-framed structures, landscaping, fencing, lighting and generators. The complex provides more than 2000 square meters of office space in two co-joined buildings and one joint assembly hall.
USAID has supplied technical and material support to the Haitian Parliament since 2006. As Carleene Dei, USAID/Haiti Mission Director noted, "USAID's support to democracy in Haiti aims to be comprehensive, providing not only new space to allow Parliament members to meet but also organizational and administrative capacity building as the fulfill their roles as representatives of the Haitian people."
A parliament is much more than a building. It is a process and a spirit. It is democracy in action. The United States continues to stand with its partner Haiti in building a democratic and prosperous future for the Haitian people.