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Haiti PM highlights headway 4 years after quake

January 11, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s prime minister said Friday that his government has made headway in rebuilding the country following a devastating earthquake four years ago, citing a drop in the number of people living in settlements camps and the construction of thousands of new houses.

With senior officials at his side, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe delivered a progress report on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 2010 quake.

“I think (the rebuilding effort) has gone very well, enormously well, considering the enormous challenges and the enormous lack of resources that we had when we started,” Lamothe told The Associated Press following his talk.

In the presentation, Lamothe highlighted the construction of more than 5,000 homes, the arrival of more than 700,000 tourists last year, the distribution of 55,000 seed kits to farmers and economic growth.

One of the most criticized aspects of Haiti’s recovery effort has been providing housing for people displaced by the quake. Some 1.5 million people moved into makeshift settlements after the disaster.

But from its peak, the number of people living in the gloomy encampments has fallen to 146,000 at 271 sites, the International Organization for Migration said. The drop stems from a mix of voluntary departures, distribution of rental subsidies and violent evictions.

Lamothe lauded that drop on Friday.

Housing activists complain that the decline doesn’t reflect an increase in housing availability — a problem conceded by the prime minister.

“We have to do more in fixing the difficult housing problems in order to have a long-term housing solution,” he said.

Foreign governments and humanitarian groups rushed to offer billions of dollars in reconstruction aid after the quake. But the money hasn’t flowed in as promised, partly because of worries about Haiti’s political infighting and corruption as well as the reluctance of donors to provide funds amid a global economic downturn.

Looking ahead to further reconstruction, Lamothe said his government has drafted legislation to require non-government groups to register and report their spending plans as a way to avoid duplication with other groups. An estimated 10,000 such groups are working in Haiti but no one really knows how many are here.

“We want to work with the NGOs, but we want the NGOs to work on the priorities of the Haitian government as expressed by the strategic national development plan,” Lamothe said.

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