Donors Meet On Haiti Aid

Donors from around the world are meeting at the U.N. to discuss reconstruction aid for Haiti, which is seeking $3.8 billion in pledges to cover the next 18 months. It's been more than two months since an earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed the country's infrastucture.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

At the U.N. today, international donors pledged more then $5 billion to help Haiti rebuild after Januarys earthquake. The quake killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed the country's infrastructure.

Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money is at the donor conference, and he joins me now. Adam, $5 billion, is that more than what Haiti was expecting?

ADAM DAVIDSON: Its a lot more than they expected. Haiti said that they were asking for two amounts - around 3.8, 3.9 billion for the coming few years, and then a larger ask of more like 11.4 billion over the next decade or so. So today, they were really only expecting that 3.8 billion. I dont want to make it sound like 3.8 is nothing. But thats what they were expecting. And they were actually a little nervous, maybe they wont get it all.

So when the number was 5.3 billion for this short-term immediate response money and almost 10 billion for the long-term, the Haitians were really thrilled and really surprised. It was a lot more than they expected.

NORRIS: You noted the challenge is to make sure the money is spent well. I understand there is also a fundamental tension at the conference. Countries want to donate but few have faith that the Haitian government is able to execute this reconstruction on their own. Does the fact that more money was raised than expected mean countries perhaps are more comfortable with Haitis ability to govern and spend that money wisely?

DAVIDSON: They came up with a solution that seems to have been a rip-roaring success. I mean, you nailed it on the head. The issue here is that the Haitian government consistently scores as one of the most corrupt in the world, one of the least well-governed countries in the world.

By the way, thats stuff that the president and prime minister have told me. So its not like a fringe group thats saying it. I mean, everyone in Haiti says it and everyone in the international donor community says it.

What theyve come up with is a very complicated system of sort of three different international governing bodies. The full details arent in yet. But whats clear is at least for this initial round of five-plus billion dollars, an international commission co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton and current Haitian president Rene Preval will oversee that spending, along with Haitian government officials and a whole lot of experts from all over the world. So I guess that was enough to make donors around the world say, okay, we trust that our money will be wisely spent.

NORRIS: And did the money come with any conditions?

DAVIDSON: Thats the big question. And again, the presidents economic advisor, Gabriel Gurette(ph) was telling me, I still dont know the conditions, Ive really got to sit down with these numbers and figure it out. There certainly are countries that said, we want our money spent on roads or on schools or helping women or helping young people, et cetera. Thats all going to be figured out in the coming days.

NORRIS: Thats Adam Davidson, thanks so much.

DAVIDSON: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: Adam Davidson is with NPR's Planet Money. And he was at the international donor conference for the rebuilding of Haiti.

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