UN Plans Massive Hiring for Post-quake Reconstruction in Haiti
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The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said Monday it plans to hire up to 200,000 local people in the post-quake reconstruction in Haiti.
"The first stage is to hire in the most affected cities and neighborhoods," UNDP country director Eric Overvest told Xinhua during an exclusive interview.
"The first stage is rubble removal to clear the streets and create access," he added.
UNDP hired 385 Haitians immediately after the January killer quake to turn solid waste into burnable "bricks" which can be used to fire stoves for cooking.
Now the UNDP payroll has extended to cover the labor of 30,000 Haitians. The UN body has prepared to hire up to 100,000 in two weeks and over 200,000 Haitians can be hired by UNDP as early as March.
"With 100,000 you are benefiting 500,000 people if you consider each household to be (of) five people," Overvest said.
"We will be here a year. We want to make sure it is really linked to a revival of the country and its infrastructure," he said.
The fund UNDP uses to hire local Haitians for self-relief has come from developing nations, rather than from more traditional donors of developed countries.
Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo have offered 3 million and US$2.5 million respectively while China has added US$500,000, said the UNDP sources.
The UNDP country director said that each Haitian hired by the UN body is paid 200 gourds (US$5) a day with meals, more than the Haitian minimum wage of 180 gourds which is paid in part in kind of food.
"We are also creating jobs like cleaning public places like markets, helping the local economy to restart," Overvest said.
"In the second stage we will be working with the United Nations Children's Fund on training teachers and creating infrastructure," he added.
UNDP is also planning to set up tree nurseries as Haiti has lost a large number of trees which have been felled for fuel or cash after the January 12 quake. The depletion of trees will expose the country to flash floods in the rainy season, he said.
UNDP is hiring local people through existing authorities like city halls and neighborhood committees.
Neighborhood committees responded swiftly to the quake by setting up temporary homes on streets to accommodate people who were afraid to return to their houses with cracks.
UNDP also plans to hire internally displaced people. An estimated 700,000 people are now residing in various refugee camps in and around Port-au-Prince.
While its immediate goal is to secure basic quality of life, UNDP's massive hiring project takes as its longer-term goal to prevent Haitians from solely depending on disaster relief following the quake that claimed at least 170,000 lives.
"It is very much about the dignity of Haitians and getting them
involved," Overvest said. "They must be in charge of the recovery process.
"The goal is to get Haitians involved in the recovery of their nation so that they do not become dependent on aid," Overvest said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2010)