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.
To be fair, the Haitian government is trying to demonstrate the leadership that was absent from the 2010 earthquake response. It is setting priorities and specifying what interventions it will and will not accept from the international community. Still, the government is quite fragile and has limited capacity. Some priorities are being determined not based on the needs of the survivors as much as the needs of the government to show that it has changed. New York Times writer Azam Ahmedoct reflects on how the response to the earthquake is shaping the response to Hurricane Matthew below.
The Catholic and Episcopalian cathedrals were two prominent landmarks in Port-au-Prince prior to their destruction in the earthquake. Plans are now underway for the reconstruction of each. A Puerto Rican team has won an international design competition to rebuild the Catholic Cathedral. The Episcopalian cathedral will be rebuilt by a Virginia-based firm. Each will be built back better, able to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Learn more at the websites of the Catholic and Episcopalian Cathedrals. Full Miami Herald article below.
The U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2011 Haiti Human Rights Report is copied below. Haiti's development depends in large part upon the extent to which human rights are protected, especially for the vulnerable. That takes the engagement of civil society and a government with the capacity and political will to do so. As the report makes clear, much remains to be done before we get there.
The response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was exceedingly complicated and much did not go well. According to ALNAP, over 45 evaluations to date have examined why. The attached report by the Brookings Institution examines one shortcoming in particular - the failure to protect women and children in an urban environment. Haitian cities remain vulnerable to natural disasters - women and children should be at the forefront of prevention and response.
Given poor access to and accountability of financial institutions in Haiti, much has been written about the potential benefits of mobile money. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Haitian Government are planning 2,000 mobile money transfers over the next three months in support of housing repairs. The funds do not change hands, the possibilities for corruption are reduced, and earthquake survivors can get started rebuilding their homes. The full press release follows.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) recently released a report summarizes the challenges that the Haitian government has faced in rebuilding Port au Prince and facilitating resettlement of the internally displaced. Chief among these challenges has been the lack of a formal land tenure system. While several communities have developed their own local solutions to land ownership, a strategy from the central government is needed. ICG notes that this will require political will, creativity, and consensus. To put off resettlement further is to put off a transition to development.
Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking. Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively. Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.
Refugees International (RI) researchers Melanie Teff and Emilie Parry traveled to Haiti in September to assess the needs of Haitians displaced by the earthquake. Attached and below are their findings. For the displaced, this is still clearly an emergency. Less than 30% of camps have managers, a serious problem given insecurity and the fact that the majority of the displaced are not going anywhere until the Haitian government develops a systematic approach for determining land ownership and resolving property disputes. Most agree that the response of UN agencies could have been improved with better surge capacity, clarity over who is responsible for protection and a concerted effort to include Haitians in coordination efforts instead of shutting them out.
This week marked six months since the earthquake. According to President Preval, it also marked the week that the emergency phase ended and reconstruction began. Yet at the same time residents of the Corrail Cesselesse camp were struggling with the consequences of a rain storm that destroyed up to 300 tents and caused 1,700 to seek emergency shelter. With the rainy season underway, the situation is precarious for the displaced. Security, especially for women and children, is still a major concern. Is this an emergency operation, a reconstruction effort, or both?