USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives Closes in Haiti and Celebrates Hundreds of Community Achievements
On Thursday, September 19, 2013, the USAID Mission in Haiti held a close-out celebration of its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which started the U.S. Government’s Haiti Recovery Initiative following the 2010 earthquake. OTI completed over 900 projects in Haitian communities and helped thousands of Haitians gain employment opportunities and improve their lives during the past three and a half years. The festive event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, USAID Mission Director John Groarke, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau Beth Hogan, Acting Director of OTI Stephen Lennon, and representatives of the Haitian Government, community organizations and groups. The assistance provided through USAID/OTI, done in close coordination with close to 1,000 Haitian groups and partner organizations, aimed to strengthen relationships between Haitian citizens and the Government of Haiti and empower Haitians to take control of their own lives.
“The Haiti Recovery Initiative is among the U.S. Government’s biggest earthquake response programs, and throughout its entire lifetime, the program has remained committed to helping Haitians rebuild their communities and work with national and local leadership to prioritize and respond to community needs,” said Ambassador White at the closing event.
USAID/OTI’s $155 million program supported the U.S. Government earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti in the regions of Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc and Cap Haitien. This assistance was divided into two distinct phases: a) 2010-2011 post-earthquake rapid emergency response efforts, and, b) 2011-2013 transitional assistance activities aiming to stabilize communities, strengthen the Government of Haiti’s service capacity, and increase citizens’ involvement in making decisions about and managing their own communities.
Immediately after the earthquake, the program focused on providing emergency relief to displaced people, including tents, blankets, and emergency kits, and contributing to the overall recovery efforts, such as removal of 860,000 cubic meters of rubble, 32% of the total rubble USAID helped remove, as well as providing cash for work opportunities to more than 45,000 people.
USAID/OTI also helped rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and provide temporary structures, such as the Parliament building, and the Ministries of Agriculture, Planning, Justice, and Communications and Culture. To address critical information needs after the earthquake, the program supported “News You Can Use” broadcasts, short radio programs developed by local journalists to disseminate humanitarian assistance and cholera awareness news to the public.
In 2011-2013, USAID/OTI’s focus shifted from responding to immediate humanitarian needs to strengthening community stability by funding initiatives that increased citizens’ engagement and strengthened the Government of Haiti’s capacity to provide public services. In addition to hundreds of community projects, the program helped resettle over 1,300 earthquake-affected families from camps in Place Boyer and Place St. Pierre in Petion-Ville near Port-au-Prince, rehabilitate public spaces, such as community centers and recreational facilities, promote public security by installing over 1700 solar lights in key neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc and Cap-Haitien, and provide vocational training and job skills development to over 1,500 Haitians.
USAID/ OTI’s Haiti Recovery Initiative laid the groundwork for other U.S. Government programs working in partnership with the Government of Haiti to improve Haiti’s health care, infrastructure, economy, rule of law and education for a more prosperous and stable Haiti.