But concerns remain. First, 16/6 only targets a fraction of people still displaced in Haiti: 30,000 are targeted, out of the 515,000 living in more than 700 camps. Second, its funding is shaky: with costs estimated at $78 million, only $30 million is currently secured by the Haiti Reconstruction Fund because of bureaucratic snags.
This financial uncertainty is further amplified by the fact that the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the body established to coordinate relief efforts and the allocation of resources, ended its 18-month mandate last October and a new mandate has not been extended, amid split opinions about its actual accomplishments. And many worry that the philosophical underpinnings of the plan – including getting residents back to their places of origin – is only a goal on paper, as Haitians are likely to scatter to wherever they can find an affordable place, most likely in a poorer area.
“What saved Haitians, even in the worst camp conditions, was the community spirit whereby everybody helped his neighbor,” says Nicole Phillips, staff attorney at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, whose lawyers monitor the respect of human rights and the accountability of international actors in Haiti. “When you break up these communities and their ties, surviving becomes more difficult.”
Humanitarian groups partnering in the project consider it a step in the right direction. “Giving cash to people to move, when integrated within a reconstruction and recovery plan, can be a very effective method,” says Emmett Fitzgerald, program manager for 16/6 for the International Office on Migration. But extending the plan is possible only if rebuilding proceeds at the same pace, as there would never be enough housing for the entire population living in camps.
Residents of camps also support it. In a shady corner of the Maïs Gaté camp, a young man named Jackie, a young father of three, eagerly takes down his family tent at the end of December. “I can’t wait to leave the camp. It took me a long time to find a house,” he says, not interrupting his work. He will pay the equivalent of $500 for a year’s rent, a sum the program underwrote.