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Ten years after the earthquake, Haiti is on the long road to reconstruction
A decade has passed since the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010. This marks an opportunity for Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which has been present on the island since 1976, to compile a progress report on its initiatives in support of the country's reconstruction.

A decade ago, the earthquake left more than 200,000 dead and another 300,000 seriously injured. One and a half million people were made homeless. Since the disaster struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the ramifications have continued to ripple throughout. And since then, AFD has redoubled its efforts in support of a battered country. 

Over the past ten years, 1,700,000 people, or 15 in every 100 Haitians, have directly benefited from AFD funding in the priority sectors of agriculture, urban services, health, education and governance. By the end of the reconstruction project, 500,000 people will benefit from quality care in the University Hospital of Haiti.

For AFD, it is not only a question of helping rebuild this country, but of doing so on sustainable grounds, and by bringing all the stakeholders together, including residents.  This requires involvement from civil society as well as from small enterprises, to reduce the need for external assistance and imports. 

To unpack it all, here are five key questions and answers. 

1Ten years on from the earthquake, has the country recovered?

Since mid-September 2019, there has been a lot of tension in Haiti with demonstrations that are often accompanied by violence. This political and social crisis affects the reconstruction of the island and the implementation of AFD projects. However, ten years on from the earthquake, the country has made significant progress, and AFD has played a role with its commitment of €250 million over this period, which has helped an estimated 1.7 million Haitians.

2Does the instability in the country allow it to continue carrying out current and future projects?

AFD is committed to ensuring the continuity of its activities in support of the Haitian people. Project monitoring and training have continued. In the fourth quarter of 2019 funds were allocated for the health sector (maternal and child health program and additional resources for the reconstruction of the university hospital). Additional funding is expected to follow in 2020 for an irrigation program in southern Haiti.

3How does AFD ensure that its funding is properly allocated?

AFD ensures that resources are properly allocated at all project stages, in cooperation with Haitian institutions. It follows strict procedures aimed at controlling the use of subsidies, which come from the French state budget or which are delegated by other public institutions, such as the European Union. 

Before a project is executed, preparatory work is done in cooperation with the ministry or public institution concerned, by defining the objectives, the expected impact, activities to be carried out, and contracts to be awarded. AFD then carries out a financial follow-up, issuing the funds as the projects progress.

4What are AFD's main areas of intervention?

Since 2010, AFD's actions have primarily focused on rural development, food security, rehabilitation of poor neighborhoods and health sectors. In this regard, the reconstruction of the University Hospital of Haiti, which has entered its final phase, is one of the decade's emblematic projects. When it is completed, it will provide 500,000 people with quality care. Some 900,000 people have already benefited from better quality reproductive health and family planning services.  

By 2020, AFD will have contributed to improving the living conditions of 50,000 families by granting them better access to water. In addition, 2,500 hectares of coffee growing areas have been restored, along with 600 new hectares for cocoa cultivation.

AFD's priorities now focus on education and vocational training. AFD also has ambitious 2021 objectives for the education sector, aiming to contribute to the schooling of 400,000 children in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, and to provide vocational training to 3,700 young people, 25% of whom are women.

This will involve the construction of 40 primary schools and 20 secondary schools, an upgrade of the pilot vocational training center and support for six training centers in the country. 

5Will the reconstruction projects carried out over the past ten years prevent a new humanitarian disaster in the event of an earthquake?

Before reconstruction of districts at risk was under way, development plans were drawn-up with the inhabitants. They help protect the country from potential new crises. 

Urban development projects have thus enabled the creation of two public squares and the construction of 4,307 meters of pedestrian pathways. Roads, a gully and more than 100 water storage tanks have been created. Retaining walls have also been built to protect neighborhoods from floods or landslides, and pilot urban development projects are being implemented.  

Some 250 craftsmen have been trained in earthquake-resistant construction techniques. More than 250 houses have been assessed for reconstruction or reinforcement and 325 individual dwellings have already been built or reinforced. Although much remains to be done, things are gradually improving.