WESTPORT, Conn. (Feb. 4, 2010) — In his testimony today before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, Save the Children President Charles MacCormack urged Congress to help ensure a brighter future for Haiti and its children by strengthening the capacity of its government, citizens and private sector. He noted that well-coordinated collaboration between the Haitian government and civil society, the United Nations, the U.S. and other donors and nongovernmental organizations such as Save the Children was essential to addressing both the immediate and long-term development needs of the country.
MacCormack shared his observations from his two visits to Haiti since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck three weeks ago. "While the Haitian people are extremely resilient and have exhibited much patience, their challenge is daunting," said CharlesMacCormack. "It will take a collective effort today to give the children and families of Haiti a better tomorrow."
In his testimony, MacCormack said that it will take 10 years and a substantial investment to rebuild the country, and will require a coordinated and transparent response. To help the Haiti government redirect its funding into investments that would help in its recovery, MacCormack proposed that Congress expand Haiti's trade preferences to include additional exports, issue grants instead of loans to the Haitian government and support cancelling Haiti's nearly $1 billion international debt.
"Future funds must go to providing children and families access to health services, education and economic opportunities," said McCormack. "This is a long-term disaster and the U.S. must commit for the long-haul. Sustaining significant investment over the next 10 years will be critical to ensuring the well-being of children and their families."
MacCormack applauded President Obama's appointment of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to oversee the coordination of the U.S. humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake but urged that this role be expanded to include the long-term development needs of the country.
"The U.S., with non-governmental organizations and donors, should intensify its commitment to building the capacity and systems of the Haitian government and Haitian civil society to lead and manage their own development," said MacCormack. "We must support Haitians in building back better for the children of Haiti."
Drawing on lessons learned from Save the Children's response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, MacCormack noted that putting Haitians at the center of their own development and recognizing the critical role of women and youth in the decision-making process would be essential for Haiti's recovery.
On-the-ground in Haiti for over 25 years, Save the Children launched one of its largest disaster responses ever. Save the Children has reached more than 170,000 children and adults, providing lifesaving food, medicines and supplies. In addition, the organization is working to protect vulnerable children, providing spaces to play and helping trace unaccompanied children and reunite them with their families.