June 12, 2011
Behind the Closed Doors of Port-au-Prince ‘Reconstruction’ — Haiti Grassroots Watch

Port-au-Prince, June 10 2011 – Why hasn’t reconstruction begun in downtown Port-au-Prince, the area of Haiti most savagely hit by the January 12, 2010, earthquake?

Why are there still tent cities surrounding the National Palace?

Why is planning conducted and decided behind closed doors, with secret contracts nobody sees?

Why are the beneficiaries – the capital’s poor majority – also kept out of the planning and in the dark?

Two new investigations by Haiti Grassroots Watch and students from the Laboratoire de Journalisme at the State University of Haiti tried to figure out what is blocking the reconstruction of downtown, and why the Champ de Mars is still home to thousands of families.

Journalists found a lack of transparency, lack of coordination, rivalry and sometimes even outright disagreement, in a context where no single authority seems to have a complete picture, or accept complete responsibility.

The results of the apparent impasse or – at the very least – confusion? Thousands of families braving the rains, winds and cholera under tarps and infrahuman conditions, undisbursed funding, and a rubble-strewn downtown characterized by empty plots and dying businesses. ..

During a two-month investigation carried out with journalism students, Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) discovered:

•    There are at least two and maybe three different proposals in the works for downtown Port-au-Prince and the greater metropolitan area.

•    At least two are the result of contracts paid out of Haiti’s meager state coffers.

•    Port-au-Prince City Hall – which is supposed to be “financially and administratively autonomous” of the central government – has accused the ministries of cutting it out of the planning in an effort to “make money on the back of the victims,” according to Mayor Muscadin Jean-Yves Jason.

•    Even within the central government, there appear to be two competing plans, championed by two different ministries.

For the first expose read:

Impasse ? What’s blocking the capital’s reconstruction? http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/7pap1eng 

For the second expose on the lack of monitoring of plans by members of the UN Shelter Cluster to address the needs of homeless tent dwellers in the Champs de Mar area of Port-au-Prince see:

While the heroes are watching http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/7chaneng1

Haiti Grassroots Watch received a $20,000 grant from the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation in June 2011 for its work monitoring aid to Haiti and giving Haitian citizens a voice in the reconstruction process.  Coordinated by long-time journalist in Haiti, Jane Regan, Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the community radios of the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA).

For more about Jane Regan see http://www.janevregan.org