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UN hires Haitians to jumpstart economy

Updated: 2010-01-21 09:37
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UN hires Haitians to jumpstart economy
A man walks on a destroyed building in downtown Port-au-Prince January 20, 2010. [Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS: As search and rescue operations shift gears to immediate assistance for the survivors, the UN Development Program (UNDP) announced on Wednesday that it will employ over 1,000 Haitians in an attempt to kickstart the economy.

"Time is of the essence in getting early recovery after a major disaster," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, who visited Haiti on Sunday.

By the end of the week, 1,100 Haitians will be paid about 5 US dollars a day for work that includes removing rubble, doing street repairs and bringing essential infrastructure, such as electricity, back online.

The first phase of the cash-for-work program will focus on Carrefour-Feuilles, a neighborhood just south of the nation's capital, Port-au-Prince.

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The initiative will soon be rolled out to other earthquake- stricken locations, including Leogane and Jacmel. Once fully operational, the project will employ 220,000 people, indirectly benefiting around 1 million Haitians, according to the UNDP.

Clark called for more donor support for the program, which has received 5 million US dollars from the UNDP and the Spanish government.

"This will accelerate early recovery and prepare for the longer- term rebuilding when it takes place," said Clark.

Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP assistant administrator and director of the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, told reporters the cash-for-work program is essential because "people are able to be not only spectators, but actors" in relief efforts.

As part of the wider UN flash appeal for 550 million US dollars, the UNDP has appealed for 36 million US dollars to help Haitians recover from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit on January 12.

"The overall task of rebuilding a devastated capital -- with a population of this size -- is huge," said Clark.