Meeting with the Prime Minister
The meeting with the Prime Minister went very well. There were a number of issues we needed to discuss with him, and we also needed to hear from him, what he saw as priorities and issues as they pertained to the future of Haiti. Both these objectives were met. I will not cove rall the points, but summerize the most important ones.
We wanted to better understand the planning process for the medium and long term recovery efforts for the Country and the priorities that the Government of Haiti saw. There has been a Post Disaster National Assessment Committee (PDNA) put together to formulize a plan scheduled for local review in mid March and for presentation to the United Nations at the end of March. As of our meeting, the Prime Minister agreed to give Rotary a seat on that Committee and we will be involved in the development and production of the plan as a result. Barry Rassin will assist us with Rotary Internationals presence at the UN presentation to be sure we stay connected with the process at that level as well.
This is probably the single most important advancement we have made in identifying our role as we move forward. We are going to be a part of the planning process from the beginning and as such will be knowledgeable of all the elements and understand the full scope of the recovery initiative. This coupled with the Rotary Clubs in Haiti being in the communities will give us a very clear understanding of our role in whatever sustainable initiative we decide to undertake.
We discussed the idsue of Customs and the challenges we have faced and possibly may face as we continue our medium term relief efforts. We are assured that we could get a letter that would make clear our customs privilege and any other issue that may develop at any port of entry we chose to use. This was a great and necessary assurance.
We discussed the status of our NGO, (ROTAH) Regroupement Oeuvrant a Travers des Actions Humanitaires en Haiti. We have been given assurance that this would be approved very expeditiously and we would have temporary approval by next week.
We discuss the issue of trying to get supplies to La Gonave and the challenges therein. I had recommended that we have approval to ship directly by sea to La Gonave by sea. The Prime Minister said he would look into the possibility of that as a regular port of entry, but assured us that we could under special request do so. This will help the Island Community a lot.
We also discussed the overall response to the Disaster and the furure of Haiti. There are many VERY difficult decisions to be made and actions to be taken. At the forefront of all of them is the understanding by all involved that this may well be the only time that an effective calculated plan for a sustainable recovery may be possible, and we must do it right. The pressure to do it soon is also critical as the patience of the population is already being tested. They need to see and hear the plan and then immediately initiatives that indicate that it is a reality and not rhetoric.
We discussed the need for a quick switch in our recovery efforts from relief to sustainable initiatives. Don't continue to send drinking water when the local water production plant can produce the water. Support the local production plant by buying water from them to distribute. Don't send rice that can be produced in the Artibonite region, help them get back into full production and then help by buying some of it for the needy.
In the very short term, food, shelter for individuals and for schools, School, scholarships, water and specific medical supplies is still the priority but this should only be for the short period unless there is a very specific need identified.
I hope this update helps. On these trips, Captain Paul has taken photographs for us. He is downloading the latest one for me on a drive today, and Barry will take this and put a Photo presentation together for us all.
I am going back to Port au Prince Tuesday. Rotary International President John Kenny will be there and is wanting to discuss the relief efforts to date in Haiti and to meet with a number of NGO's. He is coming in from the DR as he is actually visiting that District. I think its important he is informed of our efforts and understands the direction we are taking.
A quick Thank You to Captain Paul Aranah for supporting us through all this and arranging flights and sponsorships. Thanks to again Barry for his unwavering support for anything this district does and for being there when we need him EVERY time. Thanks to Claude for his exceptional Leadership and support during what must be the most challenging period of his life, Thanks to all our Rotarians in Haiti who make our efforts so rewarding, and thanks to all of you for your continued interest and support.
I'll keep you posted