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Haiti Donors Urge Transparency in Relief Spending

March 31, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Haiti is asking the international community for $3.8 billion in aid to rebuild its torn infrastructure. Judy Woodruff reports on the international donor conference in New York and the U.S.'s pledge of $1.1 billion over the next two years.

JIM LEHRER: Making pledges to Haiti.

Judy Woodruff has that story.

JUDY WOODRUFF: By any accounting, the needs of post-earthquake Haiti are massive. Today, the Haitian government sought pledges of nearly $4 billion to get the rebuilding under way. The appeal came at a daylong conference at the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged representatives of more than 100 nations to help.

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations secretary-general: By the end of this day, I am confident we will truly have helped Haiti along the road to a new and better future.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Clinton said the U.S. pledge will amount to $1.1 billion over the next two years.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. secretary of state: This is not only a conference about what financially we pledge to Haiti. We also have to pledge our best efforts to do better ourselves, to offer our support in a smarter way, a more effective way, that produces real results for the people of Haiti.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The European Union also stepped forward with a pledge of $1.6 billion. And Haitian President Rene Preval asked donors to focus on education to help his nine million people rebuild their lives.

RENE PREVAL, Haitian president (through translator): Let us dream of a new Haiti whose fate lies in a new project that relies on a society without exclusion, which has overcome hunger, in which all have access to secure shelter, decent shelter, health care provided according to their needs, and a quality education.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Preval government’s request would be just the first part of a much larger package of more than $11 billion. The plan is to rescue Haiti from its current state by rebuilding schools, hospitals, courthouses, and entire neighborhoods that crumbled to the ground.

But getting promises of aid is one thing. Getting the money is something else. That’s partly because donors are demanding greater transparency in a country with a long history of official corruption.

On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton was tapped to co-chair a special commission. Its task is to make sure the earthquake aid gets where it’s supposed to go.

BILL CLINTON, former president of the United States: We’re just trying to provide a forum in which all the legitimate stakeholders can be heard and come together, and then implement the Haitian government’s plan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still homeless and facing the threats of disease, violence and floods, plus the approach of hurricane season.