Washington, June 2 (DPA) Former US president Bill Clinton's foundation Tuesday pledged $1 million towards disaster preparedness and hurricane safety in Haiti ahead of a conference to discuss the earthquake-shattered country's future.
Clinton announced the pledge in Leogane, Haiti, and it is the first financial commitment made to the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) that was officially launched Tuesday.
The funds were in addition to $1 million each pledged by the Haitian government and the Clinton Foundation earlier Tuesday to support the operational costs of the commission.
The IHRC was set up by an international donors' conference March 31 and subsequently approved by Haiti's parliament.
Along with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Clinton will co-chair the IHRC, which will permit foreign donors to participate in rebuilding the impoverished Caribbean nation after the Jan 12 earthquake.
The IHRC will decide which reconstruction projects will receive billions of dollars in funding from foreign donors, over the next 18 months.
"The Haitian government is committed to ensuring that reconstruction efforts are quick, transparent, and effective; this body is designed to ensure that," Haiti's President Rene Preval said.
The additional pledge money will be used to build and improve emergency shelter in areas at risk, including Leogane, as the hurricane season in the region has begun.
An estimated one million to two million Haitians are still living in temporary settlements. Leogane is at high risk for hurricane damage and currently has 200,000 people living in camps, the foundation said in a statement.
"With the hurricane season underway, we are reminded of the importance of contingency plans to prevent another tragedy, not only during this time of reconstruction and recovery, but for years and decades to come," Clinton said.
Haiti is no stranger to natural disasters. In August-September 2008, Haitians suffered tropical storms Fay and Hanna and hurricanes Gustave and Ike, which killed an estimated 800 people.
In October 2007, Tropical Storm Noel left 80 dead. In September 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne set off a mudslide that devastated the city of Gonaives, 150 km north of Port-au- Prince, leaving more than 1,000 dead.
Clinton will also travel to the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, for the Conference on the Future of Haiti in Punta Cana.
The conference was called by the governments of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Spain, in its capacity as the current president of the European Union.