Thirty-five seconds of terror in Haiti a year ago, on January 12th resulted in about 230,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries, left almost 2 million homeless, decimated the economy, and exacerbated many of the problems the country already faced. Haiti also lost up to 30 percent of its civil service employees and all but one of its main government buildings.
"Today, the United States remains committed to helping build a more prosperous and stable Haiti," said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten. Like many of Haiti's international partners, the U.S. is providing more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian relief funding to lay the foundation for long-term development, along with $1.5 billion, pledged at the March 2010 donors conference, to help rebuild. These efforts are part of an internationally-coordinated reconstruction program that employs innovation to restore Haiti's economy.
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, co-chaired by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and former President Bill Clinton, ensures that relief and development projects are coordinated. Unlike other international post-disaster reconstruction efforts, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission also includes representatives from Haiti's government, private sector, and civil society.
Technology has played a key role in Haiti's recovery. Through the use of mobile phones, Americans were able to donate more than $35 million to Haitian relief and recovery efforts via the Red Cross and other international organizations. In addition, by working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States is offering incentives to encourage competition in Haiti's private sector to bring banking services to residents through their mobile phones.
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has employed 350,000 people in cash-for-work programs, which have boosted the Haitian economy. The U.S. has also invested in agricultural initiatives, helping increase crop yields by about 75 percent over the previous year's harvest in some areas. And the U.S. has been a critical partner in removing rubble. The progress is incremental, said Ambassador Merten, but improvements are taking place every day.
"We face a long and difficult journey," said Ambassador Merten. "But we renew our commitment to the living by helping build a more prosperous and stable Haiti, and a future that its people want."