UN seeking support from donors to scale up cash-for-work initiative in Haiti


4 February - The United Nations is seeking to scale up its cash-for-work programme that is enabling Haitians to earn an income as they help their country recover from last month's devastating earthquake, and the world body is calling on donors to help fund the vital initiative.

“The goal of the next few days is to ramp up the coverage, depending on the generosity of donors,” Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), told a news conference.

UNDP coordinates the cash-for-work programme, which was identified as one of the priority activities in the early recovery agenda following the 12 January quake, which is estimated to have affected one third of the 9 million citizens of Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Ryan said the programme draws on the experience of the Government of Haiti and UNDP coming out of the 2008 hurricane season when over 100,000 jobs were created following those disasters.

So far just over 30,000 people in Haiti are working through the cash-for-work programme, receiving the equivalent of just under $5 a day.

“Clearly, we want to grow that up as rapidly as possible,” said Mr. Ryan, adding that this involves working closely with the Government as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which play a large part in dispersing the programme throughout Port-au-Prince and other affected areas.

As part of the wider $575 million flash appeal launched by the UN for humanitarian relief efforts, UNDP is seeking $35.6 million for immediate recovery priorities, including debris clearance, rehabilitation of basic infrastructure, and cash-for-work reconstruction activities.

So far UNDP has received $10 million to date for the cash-for-work programme, with another $7 million pledged by a number of countries, including China, Spain and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“There still is a funding gap for the early recovery of at least $18 million,” Mr. Ryan pointed out. “There are still a number of donors that have yet to come on board. We hope they will because this will allow us to scale up this early recovery activity.”

He stressed the value added associated with the cash-for-work programme. “It gives people a feeling that they've got a stake in the recovery. It gives them a bit of money in their pocket.

“We do believe it's one of those types of activities in an early recovery programme that can reduce social tensions,” he said, adding that it can also enable people to acquire new skills which they can use later.