Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2014

Haiti makes progress building resilience to natural disasters, says PM

lamothe_brownDAVOS, Switzerland (HCNN) -- The Haitian prime minister said this weekend that disaster-prone Haiti was making progress in building resilience to prevent and be better prepared to face disasters, a number of which have already caused billions of dollars worth of devastation in the Caribbean country over the years.

Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, during a World Economic Forum, Laurent Lamothe said his government has established a viable disaster management system, a new building code and drainage infrastructures, has dug riverbeds and treated watersheds, among other projects to make Haiti more resilient.

"We have taken a number of measures to better prepare the country to natural disasters," Lamothe said.

"But a lot remains to be done in order to reach the preparedness level we need and we need funds for that," he said.

Over the past years, Haiti has been hit and devastated by several storms and hurricanes, such as Sandy, which had caused enormous damage particularly in the agriculture and infrastructure sectors, and more efforts have been made to mitigate disaster risks, authorities say.

Following the January 12, 2010, earthquake that left up to 300,00 people killed and hundreds of thousands more homeless, most of the international funds were used for emergency field operations to feed people living in tent camps, quench their thirst, among other things.

"There were also 4,000 Olympic pools worth of rubble that needed to be removed and that was an urgent thing to do to allow life to normalize again," said Lamothe.

"Now that we finished with the emergency, we are moving into a nation building phase and rebuilding such a destroyed place remains a big challenge," he said.

As a consequence of the earthquake, Haiti registered13 billion dollars worth of damage, about 40% of housing was destroyed, while about 50% (1.5 million) of the capital Port-au-Prince's population was living in makeshift tents. Now about 90% of them have been relocated in safer homes, according to figures released recently.

During his stay in Davos, Lamothe met with former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, with whom he discussed opportunities to develop partnerships in training and modernization of public governance. The discussions focused on education which is one of the priorities of government.

Lamothe also met with international experts and donors, and potential investors, including George Soros, to whom he exposed the business and investment opportunities they can find in Haiti.

After his participation in the 44th edition of the World Economic Forum, Lamothe left for Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), where he participates on January 30 and 31 in the 22nd regular session of the summit of the African Union.

By Joseph Guyler Delva

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