Billions of Dollars Pledged for Haiti Recovery Efforts at International Donors' Conference

International donors met in New York City Wednesday in an effort to raise up to $4 billion to help rebuild Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince on January 12, Reuters reports.

The International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti brought together representatives from some 120 countries, international organizations, and aid agencies at the United Nations headquarters to discuss how to fund a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a new Haitian Recovery Commission would aim to channel $3.9 billion into projects and programs over the next eighteen months. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would pledge $1.15 billion to the long-term effort, while the European Union and a coalition of U.S.-based humanitarian groups have indicated they are likely to pledge more than $2.7 billion.

Donors and aid partners have insisted that the Haitian government direct the reconstruction effort but have indicated that it should include monitoring mechanisms. The World Bank will act as fiscal agent for a Multi-Donors Trust Fund.

Although Haiti was the main topic of discussion at the meeting, the UN also called for additional donations in response to its request for $1.4 billion in immediate humanitarian assistance, which so far has only been half funded. Fears are growing that the impending rainy season will compound the suffering of an the estimated 1.2 million Haitians left homeless by the quake. Estimates of damage from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake have ranged between $8 billion and $14 billion.

"What we envision today is wholesale national renewal," said Ban, "a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations."

"Donors Meet on Haiti Aid Drive." Reuters 03/31/2010.