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U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti to carry out infrastructure work financed by IDB

PORT AU PRINCE – The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the start of a new phase of infrastructure rehabilitation in Haiti, under a Haitian government initiative to involve peacekeeping troops and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the execution of IDB-financed projects.

The IDB and Haiti signed an accord under which resources from an ongoing $70 million loan will be used in projects such as rebuilding and reconditioning rural roads by military personnel of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Haitian authorities also signed an agreement with MINUSTAH and UNDP to formalize their participation.

“These agreements establish a unique collaboration between the Haitian government, the IDB and the United Nations, underscoring the commitment of all parties to adopt innovative solutions to support Haiti’s economic and social development,” said Emilio Cueto, IDB Representative in Port au Prince.

The first projects to be carried out by MINUSTAH, with about $5 million in IDB financing, concern the rehabilitation of more than 80 kilometers of key roads in the north and northwest of the country, linking the towns of Port de Paix and Limbé with Cap Haïtien, the second-largest city and an important port.

The projects, which are due to begin next month under supervision of the infrastructure program’s technical executing unit and the Ministry of Public Works, will give fishing and farming communities better transport and communications links to regional urban markets and improve their access to basic social services.

MINUSTAH, which has some 6,200 troops from 19 countries serving in Haiti, will provide earth-moving and other heavy equipment. The Chilean and Ecuadorian contingents will supply their military engineers to carry out the projects.

UNDP, which has vast experience in Haiti, will administer the loan resources and coordinate the work involving the peacekeepers. The agency will also promote local community involvement in the road projects by hiring workers and purchasing materials in the areas where construction will be done.

The United Nations’ participation is designed to ensure a timely execution of projects and to build local ownership of the completed works, establishing the basis for future road maintenance. U.N. involvement will also cut costs for Haiti since MINUSTAH and UNDP are due to make significant contributions to the execution of the projects.

Close follow up on the projects will help determine when and how this partnership between the Haitian government, the IDB and the United Nations can be replicated in order to contribute to Haiti’s fight against poverty.

IDB support for Haiti

The IDB has the largest portfolio of development programs underway in Haiti, with some $320 million available to finance projects in priority areas for the country’s economic recovery, including roads and agriculture; as well as social programs involving health, education, water and sanitation and small-scale economic and community development projects on a national scale.

As part of its efforts to expedite projects and to better address Haiti’s evolving needs, the IDB has adopted a flexible approach, streamlined procedures and taken steps to strengthen its office in Port au Prince as well as Haitian executing agencies’ capacity to manage development programs.

The IDB, which coordinates its work closely with other international donors and agencies supporting Haiti’s Interim Cooperation Framework, is currently preparing new soft loans totaling $270 million to finance programs for rural development and roads, environmental management and early flood warning systems, urban neighborhoods upgrading and job training.

Other projects under preparation include support to expand credit for small- and medium-size businesses, increase the competitiveness of Haitian coffee production and develop alternative mechanisms to solve commercial disputes. Grants will also be provided to strengthen the Haitian Women Ministry and for domestic violence reduction.

Additional fast-disbursing IDB loans will continue to support economic governance and institutional strengthening reforms in Haiti to increase transparency and accountability in public finance management and to strengthen tax administration and collection.