Thierry Mayard-Paul, Haiti's Chief of Staff and Minister of the Interior, Territorial Collectivities and National Defense, led the Haitian delegation that shared Haiti's disaster risk management and recovery experience with a cadre of top-level experts from approximately 38 nations, at the highly-regarded Consultative Group meeting of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Haiti was the only Western Hemispheric country invited to attend the event as a Developing Country, for the period 2012- 2013.
Mayard-Paul described the Martelly Administration's vision for emergency preparedness and response, stating: "the 2010 earthquake demonstrated that development will never be successful if we don't build risk reduction at our core. That is why the Martelly administration is committed to making disaster risk reduction and management, a critical priority across the government."
Coming into Office, President Martelly's new Government boosted preparedness and response capacity by strengthening the Civil Protection Directorate, as well as sub-national efforts. This work continues and will remain important as Haiti heads into the hurricane season. The Haitian delegation provided specific examples, for instance, of how the government has integrated risk reduction as a centerpiece of its recovery efforts within the 16/6 project. This is a US$78-million project seeking to rehabilitate 16 neighborhoods to relocate residents of six large camps in the metropolitan area, impacting 30,000 people.
Mayard-Paul gave many examples of fruitful collaborative efforts between donors, NGOs, and federal and local governments. "However, they are independent programs that are not fully integrated under one single, comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction & Management strategy." As a result, the government --through the Ministry of the Interior-- is developing a policy framework for longer term disaster risk reduction and management that will be integrated into the new national development plan.
"Development progress and risk reduction will only be successful if they are tied to local development," added Mayard-Paul. "That is why we recently launched Katye Pam Poze, the cornerstone program for the government's National Decentralization Agenda." Disaster risk reduction and management are intrinsically embedded within KPP. This way, capacity is built at the community level across the country, under an innovative "bottom up" or grassroots approach, but in complete alignment with the national strategy.
Mayard-Paul encouraged potential partners present at the meeting to help Haiti make a significant impact in disaster risk reduction and management. "We know we can't do this alone. We need long-term development partners to support the government's identified priorities," said Mayard-Paul. "That's why organizations like GFDRR and the World Bank (WB) are critical, and why this meeting is so important to Haiti."
The Minister cited eight key areas of potential support from international partners:
- Building institutional capacity at all levels-- for example, supporting Katye Pam Poze's emergency risk reduction and response modules.
- Contributing to build infrastructure and processes -- from basic physical work space to the creation of a single national emergency warning system.
- Supporting knowledge and innovation - by financing university research to identify new ways to tackle risk whilst channeling efforts of the young.
- Funding research and assessments --information gathering and sharing is one of Haiti's major challenges.
- IT/online infrastructure, software and training so that databases and critical information can be shared.
- Helping build comprehensive disaster risk reduction programs in priority cities and departments since reducing risk across the whole country at the same speed is impossible.
- Build national capacity to assess, monitor and reduce risks. In particular, build on the progress made on seismic risk reduction while also strengthening cyclone/hydro capacity.
- Supporting communications and public awareness campaigns.
"The Government of Haiti is charting a new course on disaster reduction and management, one based on resilience, best practices and community integration ensuring sustainable development," concluded Mayard-Paul.