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The United Nations Development Programme employs 400 Haitians

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2010 | 1:00 AM

UNITED NATIONS (CMC):

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) disclosed yesterday that it has employed almost 400 Haitians to give the local economy a boost and swiftly deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid following the catastrophic earthquake which struck the Caribbean country last week.

UNDP said that by week's end, the cash-for-work programme will be expanded to include another 700 people to remove rubble and bring essential infrastructure, such as electricity, back online.

"Time is of the essence in getting early recovery after a major disaster," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, following a visit to the earthquake ravaged country.

Clark said there was need for countries to support the project to get people back to work as quickly as possible, adding "this will accelerate early recovery and prepare for the longer-term rebuilding when it takes place."

The programme, which has received US$5 million so far from the UNDP and the Spanish government, allows people to receive US$5 daily and hopes to ultimately involve 220,000 people.

The cash-for-work scheme is essential, not only because it augments humanitarian activity, "but also because people are able to be not only spectators, but actors" in relief efforts, said Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean.

It will focus first on Carrefour-Feuilles, a neighbourhood just south of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and will soon be rolled out in other hard-hit areas, including Leogane and Jacmel.

Assessments

Meanwhile, as part of a wider UN flash appeal, UNDP is calling for over $36 million and is working with the Haitian government and partner agencies to assess damages and needs and devise plans for rebuilding.

Clark underscored the enormity of the challenges ahead, pointing out that "the overall task of rebuilding a devastated capital - with a population of this size - is huge."

UNDP's past cash-for-work schemes in Haiti have laid the groundwork for the programme currently underway.