PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti and the Inter-American Development Bank signed the contracts for six soft loans totaling $162.1 million to finance rural roads, urban rehabilitation, flood early warning, agriculture and economic governance.
Haitian Economy and Finance Minister Henri Bazin and IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias signed the documents in a ceremony held yesterday at the National Palace. Mr. Iglesias, here for a two-day visit, earlier met Haiti President Boniface Alexandre and Primer Minister Gérard Latortue.
“The signing of these six contracts represents a further step in realizing the IDB’s pledge at the donors’ conference in Washington in July 2004,” Mr. Iglesias said. “These projects are a demonstration of the IDB’s commitment to support not only urgent social and economic development needs but also Haiti’s efforts to strengthen core institutions. The projects will help create the basis for long term economic progress and social justice for the people of Haiti.”
Roads and highways
Transportation is a crucial sector for Haiti’s economic recovery. A $50 million loan will finance the rehabilitation and improvement of around 170 kilometers of highways and bridges on Haiti’s primary network and some 300 kilometers of secondary and tertiary roads.
Another $50 million loan will finance an urban rehabilitation program to help improve living standards and access to government services in Haiti’s nine departmental capitals and in the Port-au-Prince commune of Carrefour.
The program will build administrative and service civic centers in all the participating urban areas to house different government offices under a single roof. In Carrefour it will also improve access to water and social services, trash collection and public markets, as well as ease traffic congestion and create public parks.
Four public markets will be built to replace some of Carrefour’s retail facilities. Five public water sources fed by artesian wells will be installed at strategic points in or near the public markets. Trash collection will be reorganized and reinforced with extra trucks.
A new complex in central Carrefour will house the offices of a dozen government agencies and public enterprises that are currently in leased buildings widely separated throughout the area. Three cultural and recreational centers will be built and equipped near the public markets. Five public parks will be opened on vacant land on the seaside and other smaller lots to create green areas and sports playing fields.
The program will finance the construction of a shelter for girls and teenagers, targeting those doing unpaid housework, street children and sexually exploited minors.
The program will also finance the construction and equipment of administrative and service centers in Cap Haïtien (North), Cayes (South), Fort-de-Liberté (Northeast), Gonaïves (Artibonite), Hinche (Central Plateau), Jacmel (Southeast), Jérémie (La Grand’ Anse), Miragoâne (Nippes) and Port-de-Paix (Northwest).
Agriculture in Ennery-Quinte
A $27.1 million loan will finance a project to help some 10,000 rural families intensify and diversify their farming practices in ways that increase their incomes, conserve soil and water resources and reduce the risks of floods in the Ennery-Quinte watershed.
The project will be carried out in the foothills north of the city of Gonaïves, where devastating floods killed thousands of people in September 2004 following Hurricane Jeanne.
The project, which will be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development (MARNDR), will finance the transfer of agricultural technologies and watershed protection approaches proven to work in Haiti. It will also rehabilitate small-scale irrigation systems and strengthen producer and water-user organizations.
The Ennery-Quinte project will complement an agricultural intensification program in a contiguous valley in the Artibonite region. The program, known by the French acronym PIA, is backed by a $41.9-million IDB loan.
Flood Early Warning System
Every hurricane season Haiti is exposed to catastrophic flooding. Earlier this month 40 people were reported dead or missing after Hurricane Dennis. A $5 million loan will finance a national program that will establish a flood early warning system with automated alarms in communities in high-risk areas.
The MARNDR and the Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government will carry out the program. Both agencies will receive technical assistance to strengthen their capacity to run the early warning system efficiently. The program will also cover maintenance costs of the system during its first decade of operation.
The IDB loan will help finance an observation network that will provide accurate and timely data on potential flooding in 13 priority watersheds. A basic communications system, including radio transmissions and sirens, will alert local residents about emergencies and give them more time to seek higher ground.
The program will also provide technical assistance to local authorities and civil protection committees to improve their levels of readiness and response to floods. A national awareness and education campaign will be carried out to disseminate information on risks related to natural disasters and prepare the population to react to flood alerts.
Economic Governance and Transparency
A $25 million fast-disbursing loan and a $5 million investment loan will support Haiti’s efforts to carry out reforms to strengthen economic governance and improve efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.
These new operations will build on the activities financed with loans and technical assistance for more than $27 million provided by the IDB to Haiti since 2002 to help modernize its public finances.
The IDB resources will assist Haiti in rebuilding an institutional framework for procurement by national agencies and implementing an electronic bulletin board to make information on public sector purchases and contracts more widely available.
The IDB will also support the implementation of the Organic Budget Law and the improvement of an automated accounting and financial management system that will provide more adequate controls of spending as well as timely information on execution.
In order to increase public sector revenues, the programs will also help strengthen Haiti’s tax bureau and customs administration by providing resources to improve their legal frameworks, train officials and agents, and modernize their information technology systems.
IDB Support for Haiti
With these new loans, the IDB portfolio, the largest in execution in Haiti, totals $532 million. The ongoing operations are financing projects in basic infrastructure, water and sanitation, primary education, basic health, job training, community development and small-scale productive projects. Many projects are designed to be labor-intensive in order to generate more jobs during their execution.
The IDB, which has remained in Port-au-Prince through all of Haiti’s crises, is committed to meeting the country’s needs with flexibility. To that end it has streamlined its procedures and strengthened its country office.
Other projects totaling $86 million are in preparation, including programs in sectors such as transportation, environmental management and water distribution.
IDB loans to Haiti are for 40-year terms, with 10-year grace periods. The annual interest rate is 1 percent during the first decade and 2 percent thereafter. The IDB also provides grants and technical assistance to assist Haiti in strengthening its public sector and its capacity to carry out projects.