DESA has helped call the world’s attention to Haiti’s most vulnerable.
During last week’s International Donors’ Conference for Haiti at United Nations Headquarters, the Department co-sponsored a panel discussion titled “Haiti: Reconstruction for All”.
The event was intended to promote “universal design” and “inclusiveness” in the country’s reconstruction efforts, where the needs of all people, especially those with disabilities, were considered.
Held in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) and Disabled Peoples’ International, it allowed participants to discuss the needs of persons with disabilities in Haiti.
Organisers said that prior to January’s earthquake 7-8 per cent of country’s population had disabilities. That number is now expected to be far greater.
“It is essential that any strategy to build back better in Haiti narrows the socio-economic inequities experienced by persons with disabilities,” they said.
Chief of the UN’s Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Akiko Ito said reconstruction actually presented a significant opportunity for the country.
“[Now is] an important moment in the history of Haiti to start building an accessible society without barriers, making it possible for Haitians with and without disabilities to participate in and contribute to the immediate recovery and the reconstruction that would transition into long-term socio-economic development.”
Deepti Samant of the GPDD said that “reconstruction should not become the cause of exclusion… Build walls but not barriers.”
Wendy Batson of Handicap International highlighted the need for strong co-ordination among all NGOs and donors to avoid duplication of efforts, to ensure that the Haitian Government meets its reconstruction objectives.