Photo: © Pan African News Wire Photo Files
Pierre-Louis Speaking in London
Haiti: building a future to last
Nine months after Haiti’s devastating earthquake what lessons are there for the international community – whether from before, during or since the disaster? What hope is there for Haiti’s long-term development and its struggle to overcome poverty and injustice?
Former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis will address these and other vital questions in conversation with BBC World Affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge at Progressio’s annual lecture.
Michèle Pierre-Louis took on a central role in rebuilding Haiti after the Duvalier dictatorship fell, and has since become a world advocate for the just rebuilding of Haiti following the earthquake in January. Mike Wooldridge won an OBE for ‘services to broadcasting in developing countries’ and has reported on some of the biggest world events of recent decades.
Monday 11th October at 7.30pm
The Royal Commonwealth Society
25 Northumberland Avenue
London WC2N 5AP
Numbers are strictly limited so reply now to avoid disappointment by emailing Denise MacMahon –Denise@progressio.org.uk or call her on 020 7288 8609
The former Prime Minister of Haiti has called for Haiti to seize the opportunity to implement positive changes in the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake that hit the country in January 2010.
Speaking to nearly 200 people at Progressio’s annual lecture in London on 11 October 2010, Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis said that a plan is needed – and fast – to ensure ordinary people know what is likely to happen to them in the medium and long term.
Ten months on from the earthquake, Ms Pierre-Louis spoke of the frustration felt by many Haitians, particularly those who remain without permanent shelter in the 1,300 makeshift camps. In particular, she called for greater involvement of Haitian civil society organisations, saying many felt they had been excluded from reconstruction plans.
Outlining her hope that Haiti could seize the opportunity to implement positive changes as a result of the disaster, Ms Pierre Louis called for the national government to be supported in overseeing a process that meets the needs of the Haitian people. She highlighted the role of higher education in building the skilled labour force that is key to longer term prosperity. In addition, she said her country needed to decentralise services away from the capital Port-au-Prince and fight against the “historical exclusion” of certain sectors of society.
“Haiti is not a lost cause or a basket case,” Ms Pierre-Louis said, adding: “We have a rare history – a unique history – and a vibrant culture. We have to look to the future, but the weight of this [disaster] is still on us.”
Ms Pierre-Louis spoke of the devastation caused by the disaster in which more than 300,000 people died. She recalled the scale of the human tragedy in which almost every Haitian lost friends or relatives – as well as the crippling effects of ruined businesses and buildings. “Nobody was prepared for this,” she said. “We were all at a loss.”
Ms Pierre-Louis, who is on her first visit to Britain since January’s earthquake, thanked the people of Britain for their generosity following the earthquake. “The international response has been incredible,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for that. The people of Britain raised over £100 million. This is such an important and incredible movement of solidarity which really touches us and we thank you.”