UN panel recommends policies for next year’s elected Haitian government

17 June 2005 – The Government which the Haitian people will elect later this year and install next February must use a poverty reduction strategy to improve what the Transitional Government considers the country’s greatest needs – education, infrastructure, reforestation and water distribution, a United Nations advisory group says.

“Deep and widespread misery and an acute environmental crisis put the country socially and ecologically at risk,” the revived UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Advisory Group on Haiti says in a report on its fact-finding visit to the Caribbean country in April.

“Some 76 per cent of an estimated population of 8.5 million live in poverty, with 55 per cent in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day). The most worrying part is that over the last 25 years, the country has not experienced any durable sequence of growth,” it adds.

In that context, it notes that the Transitional Government is laying the foundation for the new Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which it will present to the international lending institutions, and that drawing up PRSPs requires broad public participation and a national dialogue.

The incoming Cabinet could consider basing its PRSP, a medium-term planning document, on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), targets set at a UN General Assembly summit in 2000 to reduce or eliminate a vast spectrum of socioeconomic ills by 2015, the Advisory Group says.

The new Government could not tackle all of the country’s problems at once, it says, but should focus on a few areas that show the Haitian people action being taken and that include appropriate, short-term “Quick Wins” from Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Millennium Task Force report. It should pay particular attention to strengthening Government ministries, the report says.

Meanwhile, ECOSOC should “explore, in partnership with the interim Haitian Government and future elected Governments, appropriate mechanisms to reinforce the coordination of and long-term prospects for capacity-building support and to advocate for increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Haiti.”

The peacekeeping UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) should “consider establishing a small project development capacity under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Juan Gabriel Valdés) to develop quick-impact projects” in conjunction with civil society, as a contribution to longer-term development.

The mission should also continue to support the Transitional Government in collecting, analyzing and preparing background studies for use by the new Government, the Advisory Group says.

The Group calls on international donors to “develop more flexible disbursement processes in order to accelerate the rate of disbursement and to enable the Haitian Government to make more rapid progress in the quality of life for Haitians and use a mix of aid instruments, including support for recurrent financing.”

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