The best way to help Haiti is to build capacity and lessen the island nation’s dependence on foreign aid, former U.S. president Bill Clinton told a business group in Vancouver Thursday.
“In Haiti, if we spend this $9 billion that the world has promised them, and we do not increase their capacity not to need that anymore, we will have failed,” said Clinton during a half-hour, wide-ranging speech titled Embracing Our Common Humanity at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.
Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, has been co-ordinating aid fundraising for the island nation in the aftermath of January’s earthquake.
“No matter how many people we put in school, how many sick kids we see in health clinics … within a matter of years it will be gone again unless we can build the capacity for them to live their own lives and not need us anymore. Except as partners.”
In his speech, Clinton, the 43rd president of the United States, touched on the economic crisis in Greece, climate change, even the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.
“By the way, you did a fabulous job and I hate to say it, but you deserved to win the gold.”
His main message, however, was about the world economic crisis and problems facing poor and rich countries.
In Haiti before the earthquake, three quarters of the population lived on less than $2 a day, 85 per cent of people did not have electricity in their homes and half of young people did not go to school.