WASHINGTON, D.C. — Haiti remains in the recovery process four years after the tragic earthquake that tore through the country on January 12, 2010. United States Senior Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act to keep track of recovery and development efforts in the impoverished country.
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act was introduced to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration on June 6, 2013. According to the bill, the Comptroller General of the U.S. will be required to create a status report on post-earthquake recovery and development efforts in Haiti.
A status report must be submitted to Congress within the 180 days following the enactment date of the bill. The report must detail cholera prevention and treatment efforts as well.
Various assessments are to be made on the progress in Haiti to ensure the successful rebuilding of the Caribbean nation. The assessments will be based on the goals outlined by the Haiti Rebuilding and Development Strategy.
The Strategy is centered on the north, central coast and Port-au-Prince regions of Haiti. It covers assistance for infrastructure and energy, governance and rule of law, food and economic security and health and other basic services. The assessments focus on the living conditions in Haiti and the efforts of both U.S. agencies and the Government of Haiti.
The assessments will hold new programs and infrastructures accountable for accommodating vulnerable populations. Women, children, orphans, the disabled and internally displaced persons in Haiti all have specific needs that require accommodation.
U.S. agencies must work with Haitian administrations for programs and infrastructures to be effective. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be assessed on their collaboration with Haitian ministries and local authorities. The assessment also looks into how frequently consultation has been sought from the Government of Haiti as new Strategy programs are created and applied.
The assessment will detail the U.S. Government’s efforts in diplomacy, solving the cholera epidemic and its cooperation with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and similar organizations.
An assessment is required on how efficiently the Government of Haiti accepts the removed, excluded or deported individuals from the U.S. back into the Haitian population. Adjustments must be made by the Government of Haiti to increase its ability to reintegrate Haitian nationals.
The State Department and USAID will fund the abovementioned report with existing funds set aside for assistance to Haiti at a maximum amount of $75,000.
Living Conditions in Haiti
Haiti has made some strides in the aftermath of the earthquake. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act ensures that Haiti continues to progress. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reported that only 145,403 people live in camps compared to the 1.5 million that remained there following the earthquake.
Over one million Haitians have gone back home. As a result, 50 temporary camps have closed down due to no longer being needed to shelter displaced Haitians.
Poverty and disease prevention remain an issue in Haiti despite the progress it has indeed made. According to the World Bank, Haiti has not provided poverty rates since 2001, therefore there is little national data on the living conditions in Haiti.
UNDP found that close to 100,000 people living in 15,000 low income area households are vulnerable. The World Bank stated that basic human services are of limited accessibility and human development indicators in the nation remain low.
With poverty comes poor health in Haiti. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook indicates that Haiti carries a high risk for major infectious diseases. Haitians are susceptible to both foodborne and waterborne diseases such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E and typhoid fever. A cholera outbreak has spread through Haiti and now the infectious disease is an epidemic.
The poor living conditions in Haiti have made Haitian men, women and children vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking. A common trafficking ruse in Haiti is moving children to live in other towns with families under the pretense that they will receive an education. However, children find themselves working as forced domestic servants, or restaveks, once they arrive.
Many of the street children in Haiti are restaveks. Violent gangs exploit street children by pushing them into prostitution, begging and street crime. Haitians are trafficked to other Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic and to the U.S. to work in forced labor. Women and children who live in internal displacement camps are especially vulnerable to the sex and forced labor trades.
According to the World Bank, past problems, political instability and civil unrest are all contributors to the poor living conditions in Haiti. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act puts forth efforts that improve living conditions in Haiti so that the nation can achieve growth and development.
The bill holds the Government of Haiti accountable for its people and providing the resources and services needed to serve the population. Status reports will allow the U.S. to monitor progress in Haiti and design programs and infrastructures that benefit the Haitian people.