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Brazil becomes first major contributor to Haiti Reconstruction Fund

CMC

Thursday, May 13, 2010 | 10:42 AM    

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WASHINGTON, USA — The World Bank says the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF) has gathered momentum after Brazil contributed US$55 million to the multilateral mechanism set up to help the impoverished, French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country rebuild following the January 12 devastating earthquake.

But the Washington-based financial institution said while Brazil is the first donor country to make such contribution, at least 14 other countries are expected to “chip in” to replenish the fund that has been in operation since April.

The World Bank said it had made an initial grant of US$189 million to the fund.

Haiti country director Yvonne Tsikata said confirmations of intent to date have come from donors such as Canada, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In welcoming Brazil’s contribution, the World Bank praised its long-standing commitment to Haiti, which, it said, has become “increasingly prominent” over the last few years in project funding, peacekeeping initiatives and technical advice.

“Brazil's leadership in supporting Haiti underscores an important feature of our multi-polar world, where emerging powers are taking on new responsibilities to assist those struggling with major development challenges,” said World Bank president Robert B Zoellick.

The HRF was set up by the government of Haiti and multiple donors to “pool, mobilise and allocate resources” from the international community in support of Haiti’s recovery and development.

HRF manager Josef Leitmann said the fund will channel resources “in a manner that builds the capacity of the Haitian state and society in the longer term,” adding that the fund will also be “flexible enough” to respond to unmet priorities in the recovery program, including the provision of budget support.

Leitmann said activities financed by the HRF would include technical assistance and capacity building, infrastructure investments, delivery of basic services, community development, environmental protection and clean-up, job creation and income generation.

The international community pledged US$5.3 billion towards Haiti’s reconstruction over the next two years at a March 31 United Nations meeting in New York.

The World Bank said, judging from experiences with previous reconstruction funds, about 10-15 per cent of those pledges will find their way into the HRF, which has been designed to fill gaps in the financing available from development partners.

At least 300,000 people were killed and more than 1.3 left homeless following the earthquake.

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