NEW ORLEANS, LA — Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a team of City officials traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for an announcement of the first set of projects to be funded by the State of Qatar Fund for the Reconstruction of Haiti (Qatar Haiti Fund). The Qatar Haiti Fund announced it will provide support for a team from New Orleans that will be involved in the continued rebuilding of Haiti. Mayor Landrieu is joined in Haiti by Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Judy Reese Morse, Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo, and senior advisor and director of Strategic Partnerships Brooke Smith.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Qatar donated $100 million to Gulf Coast entities through the Qatar Katrina Fund. The entirety of this gift, known as the "Qatar Katrina Fund," has now been committed to 18 prominent local organizations for specific projects in the Gulf Coast region focused on health care, housing, and education assistance to the people most affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Now, in recognition of the catastrophic loss of life, personal injury and property damage caused by the devastating earthquake in the Republic of Haiti on January 12, 2010, the State of Qatar established the Qatar Haiti Fund to assist with reconstruction and development efforts in Haiti through the granting of funds to projects in the areas of healthcare, housing, education and capacity building. Being that the City of New Orleans has developed rebuilding expertise following the widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina, the Qatar Haiti Fund and the City are looking to leverage that expertise for the benefit of others by transferring lessons of what did and did not work to communities facing similar challenges in Haiti. The people of Qatar have pledged a total of $20 million for the Qatar Haiti Fund.
Board members of the Qatar Haiti Fund include, Haitian Senator William Jeanty; Honorable Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, former Governor General of Canada and Chancellor of the University of Ottawa; Dr. Norman C. Francis, President, Xavier University of Louisiana; and Wyclef Jean, Roving ambassador of Haiti.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who serves as the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, was in Port-au-Prince for the announcement with Mayor Landrieu today. In addition to serving as UN Special Envoy, President Clinton and former President George W. Bush have led a major fundraising effort called the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, a non-profit organization designed to help Haiti build back better. That fund has raised well over $50 million.
“Through extraordinary generosity the people of Qatar, we have received critical support to rebuild housing, hospitals and schools in our community, and now we have an opportunity to pay it forward with a nation that we share deep cultural and historical ties with,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We are bound to Haiti by our rich culture and history, dating to when 19th-century Haitian refugees relocated to New Orleans during the slave revolts. Since then, Haiti has influenced what you see, hear and taste in our city to this day. We are now bound by tragedy and loss as well."
Landrieu continued, "As much as the Haitian people have given New Orleans over the past two centuries, New Orleanians now need to return the favor by sharing our knowledge from our own cataclysmic loss. Following large-scale disaster, governments must rebuild all sectors at once. That requires trustworthy leadership and significant capacity within the executive branch of government to manage the depth and breadth of decisions related to policy development, resource generation, community involvement, priority setting and program delivery. We are particularly interested in assisting the Haitian government in building capacity around the areas of international cooperation, urban redevelopment, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture.”
Also present at the signing ceremony today include dignitaries such as Pamela A. White, US Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti; Mohammed Abdullah Mutib Al-Rumaihi, Qatar Ambassador to the US and Mexico; and Michaelle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti.
Under an agreement with the Qatar Haiti Fund, a task force from the City of New Orleans will advise a newly-created “Prime Minister’s Advisory Unit” to build capacity in the Prime Minister’s office. The group will consist of five full-time senior advisors – Haitian experts who are based in Port-au-Prince and who report to the Prime Minister. These advisors will assist the Prime Minister in advancing his recovery agenda for and will focus on the specific sectors identified by the Prime Minister. The City task force and the Prime Minister will identify sectors where there is a need for additional staff capacity and expertise, including but not limited to tourism, international cooperation, health, agriculture and urban development. The New Orleans Task Force for Haiti’s Reconstruction will provide technical assistance on an advisory basis – on-site and remotely - to the Prime Minister and his senior advisors.
Qatar Ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al-Rumaihi, Chairman of the Qatar Haiti Fund for the Reconstruction of Haiti, "The state of Qatar values the partnership with the City of New Orleans in our effort in helping in the reconstruction of Haiti through the Qatar Haiti Fund. The City of New Orleans will put in the service of Haiti their best experts to set up a Qatar-New Orleans capacity building unit in the Office of the Prime Minister where Haitians will be hired then trained and guided by their New Orleans counterparts."
Deputy Mayor Judy Reese Morse said, “The City of New Orleans has recent and practical experience in a number of areas relevant to Haiti’s long term rebuilding efforts, from standing up a tourism industry following disaster to neighborhood-based urban planning to rebuilding infrastructure and operations. Thanks to the generosity of the Qatari people, we will be able to transfer the lessons we have learned in the seven years following Hurricane Katrina.”
In addition to the capacity building project, His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al-Rumaihi, Chairman of the Qatar Haiti Fund for the Reconstruction of Haiti, announced the signing of several other agreements related to the following Qatar Haiti Fund projects:
Partners in Health and the City of New Orleans Mobile Health Care Project: A grant to implement a program to provide a comprehensive community approach to healthcare in the Central Plateau and in the Lower Artibonite by creating mobile clinics (consisting of all terrain vehicles and ambulances staffed with doctors, nurses, and other support technicians) and integrating transportation and referrals to community health workers and facility-based health centers.
Xavier University of Louisiana and Universite Notre Dame d'Haiti (UNDH) Academic Cooperation and Exchange Memorandum of Understanding: An agreement to implement an exchange of students and scholars for the development and recovery of Haiti's education and health care fields through the creation of a professional development program for Haitian educators and pharmacists at UNDH, with the assistance of Xavier University educators and graduate students; a formal program to train new pharmacists and teachers; and scholarship support for secondary students and college level education and pharmacy students.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Qatar Haiti Fund Foreign Assistance Cooperation Activities Memorandum of Understanding: A memorandum of understanding through which the Qatar Haiti Fund will finance the building of approximately 165 permanent houses, a vocational school, and an elementary school, in conjunction with USAID's efforts to develop sustainable residential settlement communities on public land in the Cabaret Municipality, located about 20 kilometers from Port-au-Prince. USAID will fund the site preparation for the project.
Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Nursing Standards of Care Project: A project to develop formal clinical nursing standards of care at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, a series nurse trainings to implement the standards after their development, and a formal evaluation of the performance of nurses at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer.
In addition to the announcement and signing, Mayor Landrieu and City officials will meet with Haitian President Michel Martelly and Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
Mayor Landrieu closed, “If anybody should understand the situation in Haiti, we should. It’s a long journey back. We are still in the midst of a massive rebuilding effort, but we are intent on building back better than before. We want to help build capacity in Haiti, and we want to help them reimagine what Haiti can be. We’ll be with them for the long haul.”