US Official Optimistic About Haiti’s Economic Future

Posted January 10th, 2012 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. State Department official says he is optimistic that sustained economic growth is possible in Haiti, which is struggling to rebuild following a deadly earthquake two years ago this week.

Tom Adams, the State Department's special coordinator for Haiti, spoke to VOA Tuesday, two days before the anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude quake that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas.

Adams acknowledged criticism about the slow pace of reconstruction efforts, but believes it is now improving because of greater engagement from the Haitian government. He said with good economic decisions, good governance and help from the West, there is “no reason” Haiti cannot put its economic house in order.

Adams also said Haiti remains a priority for the U.S. government and that even before the quake struck, there was interest in trying to get the Caribbean country heading toward economic prosperity. He said the American people have not forgotten the tragedy of two years ago and that the United States has committed about $3.1 billion for Haiti since the January 12, 2010 quake. He said $1.8 billion was for recovery and reconstruction with the rest for emergency relief.

The World Bank has also said it will spend $255 million in the coming months to provide thousands of Haitians with housing, education and food and to help support the country's agriculture and disaster management following the quake. Haitian President Michel Martelly hopes new investment in Haiti will generate 500,000 jobs over the next three years.

The quake two years ago left more than 200,000 Haitians dead and 1 million others homeless. Thousands of people still live in tent camps. A cholera epidemic that broke out in October 2010 also caused about 5,000 deaths. Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.