Haiti, Qatar Launch Joint Fund, With Help from New Orleans

Above: Qatar Ambassador Mohammed Abdulla Al-Rumaihi and Haiti President Michel Martelly

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The governments of Haiti and Qatar launched a joint development fund Tuesday, the culmination of a funding plan first pledged at a conference in New York in 2010.

The reported $12 million Qatar Haiti Fund, which was first announced earlier this week during a visit to Haiti by former US President Bill Clinton, will cover projects in areas including health, housing, education and institutional strengthening, according to the office of Haiti President Michel Martelly.

Clinton is also the United Nations special envoy for Haiti.

Haiti’s leader received Qatar Ambassador Mohammed Abdulla Al-Rumaihi and the special coordinator of the fund, Mohamed Abdouh Kabir, for a visit this week, inviting Qatar to invest in Haiti’s economy in areas such as tourism and energy.

Also on hand this week was New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who led a delegation of city officials to Haiti for the fund’s launch.

New Orleans has pledged cooperation with the new fund; Qatar contributed significantly to post-Katrina reconstruction efforts in the city.

“We are bound to Haiti by our rich culture and history, dating to when 19th century Haitian refugees relocated to New Orleans during the slave revolts,” Landrieu said. “Since then, Haiti has influenced what you see, hear and taste in our city to this day.”

The link between Haiti and New Orleans extends to other areas as well, like architecture, as architect Mark Gilbert told Caribbean Journal last year.

As part of an agreement with the Qatar Haiti Fund, a New Orleans city task force will advise a newly-formed “Prime Minister’s Advisory Unit” to help build capacity in the office of Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

“The state of Qatar values the partnership with the City of New Orleans in our effort in helping in the reconstruction of Haiti through the Qatar Haiti Fund,” Al-Rumaihi said.

Among the board members of the Qatar Haiti Fund are Haiti Senator William Jeanty, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti Michaelle Jean and Wyclef Jean, among others.

It is the latest support for Haiti from the Gulf in recent weeks, following the announcement earlier this month that Haiti and Kuwait had established diplomatic ties.