It can take years or even decades for countries to recover from major disasters. The aim is to build back better over time so the country becomes more resilient, better able to prevent and respond to a wide range of hazards. Haiti remains just as vulnerable to major disasters as it was when the earthquake hit ten years ago. There is not an improved building code nor a resourced and widely understood national emergency response plan nor drills to operationalize and refine such plans. Haiti remains consumed by political instability, the root of which is the lack of an effective, accountable government that invests in its people. Donors have become frustrated and less interested - that is until the next major disaster happens, which eventually it will. An article below by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles and Jose Iglesias traces what has happened since 2010 and why.
The Trump Administration has announced it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in 2019 meaning they must return by then or face deportation. While such status is meant to be temporary, Haitians have integrated, are working, and part of their American communities. It is clear that the Haitian government does not have the capacity to reintegrate tens of thousands of its citizens - particularly given the impact of Hurricane Matthew and the ongoing cholera outbreak. This could further destablise Haiti. The full article the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows.
Linked and copied below is a BBC article about yet another effort by the Haitian government to re-create a military force. The reasons given are job creation, disaster response, and border patrol. Costa Rica also does not have a military and is able to patrol its borders and respond to disasters through civilian institutions. In addition, Costa Rica creates jobs by encouraging investment. Given the sordid history of the Haitian military, donors would much prefer that Haiti continues to focus on strengthening the national police force. Recreating the military could very well result in more instability and uncertainty - as was the case in the past.
In conjunction with Timberland, HP Inc, and the Clinton Global Initiative, Pittsburgh-based company Thread International PBC LTD has launched a three year pilot project in Haiti to street-level plastic bottle collectors by providing education, health care, and job training. The collectors perform a valuable service as plastic, n addition to being an eyesore, can leech into the soil and clogs drainage canals that are meant to divert water during major storms. More information from Plastics News follows:
Amy Wilentz understands Haitian culture, history, and language as few other foreigners do. This, combined with candor about her own biases and emotions, makes her a compelling writer about a country where nothing is black and white. Like many of us, she seeks redemption of a sort through Haiti. Throughout her most recent book, "Farewell, Fred Vodoo", she emphasizes that Haitian perspectives are the best ways to understand the reality of post-earthquake Haiti. Below is a review by Hector Tobar of the LA Times. More information about the book and upcoming readings are available on Amy Wilentz's website.
Below is a review, from Reason, of Jonathan Katz's book on the shortcomings of the international community's efforts to "save" Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. While no response to the aftermath earthquake, no matter how well-organized or well-resourced would have been sufficient, he emphasizes that the subsequent reconstruction effort was hobbled by a top-down approach that excluded governmental institution, weak as they may have been, local firms, and community groups. To read an excerpt or purchase the book, take a look at Amazon.
Given the extent of internal displacement in Port-au- Prince and environmental degradation beyond, Haiti remains vulnerable to flooding. You can see the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in this Washington Post video clip. There will be much reporting in the days ahead about the loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods. Drawing on his experience living through the earthquake and reflecting upong Hurricane Sandy's impact, Jonathan Katz takes a moment to remind us of Haitian resilience and solidarity, qualities we can learn from.
Two years after the earthquake, I find myself asking are we there yet? We knew recovery would be difficult. The earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters the western hemisphere has ever experienced and arguably the worst urban disaster ever. Haiti’s institutions were/are weak. For decades, NGOs have been providing the services that a strong, capable, and accountable government should. One indication of recovery is the extent to which Haiti’s half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are able to access new homes and livelihoods.
Thanks to Digicel and Voila Comcel, obtaining a cell phone is the least of your worries when traveling to Haiti. Almost immediately after arriving at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, one spots red and neon green beach umbrellas, under which man holding a string of calling cards and other mobile phone related products. Need a cell phone? No problem.
“Tales from the Hood” is a blog written by an expat, currently based in Haiti, about humanitarian assistance, international development, and the good and bad that comes with it for aid worker and recipient alike. It includes observations, insights, criticism, and a willingness to raise (albeit anonymously) the questions that keep aid workers up at night. Below is a three part blog where he looks back on the Haiti response – what was different about it, whether responders are succeeding or failing, and implications for the future. For those interested in photography, you can find his Haiti photo album on Flickr.