It sounds like a contradiction, but the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $50 million grant to Haiti for the second phase of construction of the Caracol Industrial Park, a modern manufacturing facility in Haiti’s northern region. At the same time, it is funding a marine natural park in Caracol Bay, as part of efforts to protect a large mangrove system among other marine life, such as the longest uninterrupted coral reef in Haiti. It will be interesting to see how the Industrial Park will deal with waste management and other efforts to protect the environment. [For more information on the ongoing concerns about this industrial park, see previous post Industrial Park in Caracol: A “Win-Win” Situation?].
The IDB expects to provide up to $180 million in grants over a six-year period for the new industrial park, which is being built on a 250-hectare plot of state-owned land. Once the project is completed, the facility could host as many as 40,000 workers in a region where there are few formal job opportunities.
Since the IDB made an initial grant of $55 million for the project in July 2011, the Caracol Industrial Park has welcomed its first tenant, a Korean textile manufacturer that has started to hire and train hundreds of workers to export garments to the United States.
Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels (SONAPI), the government agency that owns the new manufacturing facility and an older one in Port-au-Prince, is in talks with several foreign and local companies interested in establishing operations in northern Haiti. A Haitian paint manufacturer has already signed up to become the second tenant, with plans to hire as many as 300 workers.
IDB resources are financing the construction of factory shells, administrative and residential buildings, internal roads, water and wastewater treatment plants, and utility connections. The new grant includes funds for additional hydrological studies, as well as for hiring firms to manage and maintain the new facility and to monitor tenants’ compliance with labour laws, health and safety standards and social and environmental safeguards.
Beyond the industrial park’s perimeter, the IDB will provide technical assistance to strengthen local municipal governments by improving their capacity to manage urban planning and public services and by financing small infrastructure projects, such as access roads and community centres, with a particular emphasis on gender issues, as well as a solid waste management and recycling facility.
IDB resources will also support a project, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environmental Facility, to establish a protected area and marine natural park in the Caracol Bay, which features a large mangrove system.
For more information (and photo), see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/world/americas/earthquake-relief-where-haiti-wasnt-broken.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www