Two years later, we’re still advocating for Haiti earthquake recovery

By Elise Young

Today marks the two year commemoration of the tragic Haiti earthquake that took over 300,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands injured, orphaned, homeless and/or without income.

Je nan Je march to parliament

Yesterday, over 10,000 Haitians who are members of the ‘Je nan Je’ platform marched to the Haitian parliament and presented a charter of demands concerning their land and housing rights. They argued that it is inhumane and unconstitutional that over a half million Haitians are still living in deplorable camp conditions and that Haitian grassroots networks must be a partner in the solution-making process. (To learn more about the march, click here.)

The U.S. government approved a considerable $2.8 billion supplemental appropriations package for Haiti back in summer of 2010, including $1.67 billion to reimburse immediate relief and recovery efforts and an additional $1.1 billion for new development initiatives, $60 million of which was for housing. Although U.S. intentions towards Haiti have been well-meaning, we cannot fully progress towards a complete and holistic reconstruction in Haiti until we as a nation embrace the Haitian people for what they truly are: equal partners.

Partnership is a tricky word. It means humbling ourselves as a nation in order to learn and operate Haitian redevelopment planning sessions in Creole, the national Haitian language, and making full aid reports available to ordinary Haitians. It means performing full consultations with grassroots groups and camp members in the design and implementation of the U.S. Housing/Shelter plan, so we can ensure that we repair all promised 14,000 yellow houses and build or finance new homes for an additional 15,000 families. It means listening deeply to the needs of poor and marginalized Haitians…women facing the threat of gender-based violence, peasant movements fighting for food security, grassroots networks asking for a place at the development table, and collaborating with the Haitian government to match our development priorities to those needs. It means helping to build the capacity of the Haitian government to fulfill its own reconstruction design.

As a step towards embracing the word partnership and lifting up a new model for U.S. support in the Haiti reconstruction process, ActionAid is working with the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, the ‘Je nan Je’ land and housing rights platform and five members of Congress to organize a Haiti Advocacy Week  Jan. 23-25. We are advocating for policies that will help improve the dire situations in Haiti, and the events are open to the public including:

  • Monday, January 23 from 4 pm – 6 pm: a panel on gender-based violence in Haiti, hosted by Representatives Frederica Wilson and Barbara Lee followed by a reception from 6-8pm.
  • Tuesday, January 24 from 9 am – 10:30 am: Rep. Yvette Clarke and Partners in Health will host a panel on the state of health and cholera in Haiti.
  • Tuesday, January 24 from 12 noon – 2pm: Haiti Advocacy Working Group member, TransAfrica Forum will show their recent documentary, “Where did the money go?” which will be followed by a briefing on accountability and transparency of aid money.
  • Tuesday, January 24 from 2 pm – 4 pm: A Land and Housing panel will take place bringing together grassroots partners, NGOs, and government officials.
  • Wednesday, January 25 at 9:30 am: Media are invited to a press conference on Capitol Hill with members of Congress from 9:30 am 10:15 am and a panel on Democracy and Governance from 10:30 am 12:30 pm.

All events are open to the public and offer an opportunity to voice your opinions on a just rebuilding process in Haiti. We seek your partnership to ensure that all Haitians have a voice in their own reconstruction process.

To read our ActionAid Policy Brief on land and housing rights in Haiti, click here.

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