The power of Haiti's heritage and its people is tremendous. For America, Haiti has held, and continues to hold, a unique and rich role in African-American history. Before and since the earthquake in 2010, Haiti has faced great challenges -- ones they are working to confront and to lead the international community in helping them solve. The United States government (USG) -- and the American people -- has had the privilege of being a steadfast partner in Haiti's efforts. As we approach the second anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, it is important to remember those who lost so much; and, to honor Haitians' unrelenting commitment to realize a more prosperous and stable nation by shining a light on some of the progress toward the great future they seek.
There is so much work still to be done -- by the Government and people of Haiti, international partners, the private sector, and NGOs. Too often when things begin heading in the right direction, commitments wane and past habits reemerge. We must not let that happen. On the part of the United States, we know in Haiti we have not always measured success by whether the lives of Haitians visibly improved. And, we are continuing to take steps to do better, implementing the principles President Obama set out for effective development in his administration: coordinating with other stakeholders, working closely with the Government of Haiti and following their lead, and holding ourselves accountable through rigorous monitoring of results. We are focused on improving our impact further -- from decreasing the time it takes to contract for critical needs and increasing the number of contracts we award through Haitian entities and local partners, to widening the scope and enhancing the effectiveness of our work to build Haitian capacity, to speeding the time it takes for our investments to get on the ground and have an impact.
In the coming days there will be stories about Haiti that focus on what still must be done -- like speeding the progress of donors' deployment of assistance, finding homes for the 500,000 people who still live in camps, remaining vigilant to dampen the impact of cholera, and creating more jobs, investment and economic growth. We agree. But we also think it is important to recognize the successes that are too seldom discussed or celebrated -- particularly given how great Haiti's needs were even before the earthquake. And Haiti has made progress. So I wanted to take a moment to share some of those successes.
10 Things You May Not Know About Haiti Today
- Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.
- The USG, through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has completed more than 28,500 temporary shelters, housing approximately 143,000 people. The USG has also funded repairs to more than 6,000 "yellow" structures -- those that were deemed structurally safe if repairs are made. Today, more than 40,000 have returned to those homes.
- Caracol Industrial Park: In November, President Martelly, President Clinton, and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno and more than a 1,000 members of the local community took part in an official ceremony laying the Park's foundation, on track for its March opening. The speed and efficiency of implementation rivals the fast-moving construction schedules of industrial projects across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The 250-hectare Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti is a 300 million public-private partnership supported by increased U.S. trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act and the coordination mechanisms created by the IHRC. The USG helped convene the GOH, the IDB and Korea's largest apparel manufacturer, Sae-A, the Park's anchor tenant. Sae-A has committed to create 20,000 direct jobs and invest 78 million over six years, one of the largest investments in Haiti's modern history. With the arrival of other tenants, the Park has the potential to create 65,000 direct jobs, with additional opportunities expected for vendors, repair shops, farmers and other small businesses. USG investments will provide for electrification, new housing, and port facilities. IDB investments will provide for the construction of the park facilities and roads. The GOH is contributing the land and managing the project top to bottom with a team of Haitian professionals.
When I first started working in Haiti, someone steeped in working there said to me, "you cannot chase needs in Haiti because Haiti's needs are too great. You must chase opportunities." I urge everyone to continue to chase opportunities in Haiti -- to stay committed. In the days and weeks after the earthquake, more than half of all Americans gave money to help make a difference in Haiti's future. I encourage you to go back to the organization you supported -- you will see the difference you helped make -- and can continue to make. Together we can help Haitians achieve the future they deserve.