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Senators push for Haiti progress report

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International humanitarian organization Oxfam America commends Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), John Kerry (D-MA), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) for introducing the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (S. 1576) to the US Senate. If passed, the law will direct President Obama, in consultation with all relevant US agencies, to report to Congress on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and long-term development efforts in Haiti.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act passed in the House in May 2011 after a March introduction by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA). If passed in the Senate, the law would require the evaluation of several elements of US-supported Haiti reconstruction projects, including the extent to which US efforts are in line with the government of Haiti’s priorities and in coordination with Haitian ministries and local authorities.

“We know that Haitian leadership and strong government capacity is critical to long-term development success in Haiti, so we commend the Senators for making that a critical priority of this legislation,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “The reports required by this law would keep US-supported reconstruction on a transparent and accountable path – a much more likely scenario for achieving positive change in Haiti.”

The law would also require monitoring the participation of Haitians and Haitian Americans in the reconstruction process. This would include an evaluation of the communication methods used to keep Haitian citizens informed of progress as well as an evaluation of the mechanisms through which Haitian civil society and Haitian Diaspora participate in recovery and reconstruction projects.

“Haitian-led projects will lead to Haitian-led progress in Haiti. Effective and transparent communication to Haitians is the only way to ensure their meaningful participation,” said Marie St. Fleur, former Massachusetts State Representative. “This law, with support from Congress, will create a commitment from the US government to ensure that this kind of communication is an effective and fruitful tool for Haitians to fully understand and enrich the rebuilding process.” 

The bill also outlines a reporting mechanism for coordination among US government agencies, UN agencies, international financial institutions, as well as international humanitarian organizations like Oxfam.

“Thus far, unchecked coordination among the major actors in Haiti has hindered progress. As we continue recovery work with our partners in Haiti, Oxfam looks forward to a coordinated effort to support Haitians as they rebuild their lives and livelihoods equitably and accountably. We are encouraged by the Senators’ efforts to ensure a transparent, sustainable and development process with comprehensive monitoring and evaluation along the way,” said Offenheiser.

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