PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – France will give €270 million (US$371 million) to Haiti to improve the reeling nation’s economy that took an enormous hit after the country was rocked by an earthquake last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Feb. 17. Sarkozy said he won’t require the country to pay its €56 million (US$76.9 million) debt to France, according to Reuters. “I have come to tell the Haitian people that they are not alone,” he told Reuters during his visit to Haiti, the first ever by a French president. Sarkozy also said his country will donate 1,000 tents and 16,000 tarpaulins that should provide shelter for 200,000 during the hurricane season, which could start as early as the end of next month, according to Reuters. France also will provide ten experts to work with Haitian President René Préval’s administration for the next two years to help in what is expected to be a very long rebuilding process. Sarkozy made the announcement at a media conference at the presidential palace that was severely damaged by the earthquake, but he also said he will authorize a study to see how much it would cost to rebuild it, according to Reuters.
ECLAC calls for advantageous social policies for women, children in Haiti
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) wants Haiti to establish social policies that are more favorable to women and children as the country begins life after the earthquake, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. ECLAC is concerned that just 2% of kids under the age of 5 are enrolled in preschool and the majority of those children are being taken care of by their brothers or sisters because their mothers have to work to provide for the family, according to the report “The Economy of Child Care in Haiti.” The report showed that less than 1% of working mothers have their children enrolled in a care center, and of those who take care of the children, 60% are women. Alicia Bárcena, the ECLAC’s executive secretary, said the results of the study should be used by the government to reform its policies when the country becomes more stable, according to Xinhua. “Just like the physical infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, it is also necessary to invest in social infrastructure to facilitate child care,” she told Xinhua. “One of the pillars of Haiti's reconstruction should be social policies geared at facilitating child care in order to avoid having women bear the burden exclusively.”
Report: Earthquake could cause nearly US$14 billion in damage
The earthquake that tore through Haiti on Jan. 12 likely inflicted between US$7.2 billion and US$13.9 billion in damage, according to a study by a team of economists who have scrutinized the wrath of 2,000 natural disasters the past four decades. The study showed that the cost of rebuilding in the impoverished nation could be much higher than the initial estimates of about US$5 billion. “These estimates are useful to put this event into perspective and to inform the international community of the enormity of the challenge that lies ahead in the task of reconstructing Haiti,” write economists Eduardo A. Cavallo, Andrew Powell and Oscar Becerra, as reported by The New York Times. The team formulated the predicted cost of the natural disaster by using two death tolls. Based on 200,000 deaths, the natural disaster caused US$7.2 billion in damage, but the number would increase to US$13.9 billion if the number of dead reaches 250,000.