Today marks 3 years since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, devastated infrastructure and displaced millions, a sad anniversary which has not drawn much attention, despite the fact that one out of every two Americans donated money to relief efforts. Shortly after the earthquake, the people of Haiti were further devastated by an unprecedented outbreak of cholera (Click here for more on cholera outbreaks in Africa). Since the initial outbreak, cholera has struck 1 out of every 16 Haitians — nearly 640,000 people, and killed 8,000. To add insult to injury, there hadn’t been a reported case of cholera in Haiti for over 100 years prior to the earthquake, and the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that it was introduced by the UN Forces that were on hand to aid in disaster relief efforts.
Haiti’s Long Road to recovery has been progressing slowly (more than 350, 000 people are still living in tents), and the promise to “Build Haiti back, better” remains so far unanswered. Unfortunately, the slow moving pace of Haiti, beautifully captured in the This American Life episode Island Time, has frustrated government agencies, such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). CIDA is concerned with slow progress of development, which it attributes to Haiti’s weak governing institutions and corruption, and as such funding for new projects would be “on ice“. However, in his new book The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came To Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, Jonathan M. Katz breaks down how foreign aid money was spent, and reveals that the majority of the funds were not available to the Haitian government nor its general population, a sentiment echoed in the recent New York Times article, Rebuilding in Haiti Lags After Billions in Post-Quake Aid.
Below are a sampling of links from around the web that deal with the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake and disaster response.
- Excellent resource for more reading, Three Year Later: A Round-up of News and Commentary from the Center for Economic and Policy Research
- 8 Reasons The Earthquake in Haiti Was Gravy for U.S. Contractors – Buzzfeed
- From The Christian Science Monitor, Haiti struggles to ‘build back better’ two years after earthquake, and the yearly followup, Three years since Haiti earthquake: Learning the art of listening
- From Elizabeth Ferris of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Haiti Three Years On: Overpromised and Underdelivered
- Haiti – Three Years Later (calltohumanity.wordpress.com)
- Photos: Bill Clinton visits Haiti on third anniversary of earthquake (photos.mercurynews.com)
- CBC shares insights from authors Amy Wilentz and Jonathan Katz, in Haitians still await rebuilding after 2010 quake
Haiti’s Reconstruction Barely Begun (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
Haiti says quake aid is failing (bbc.co.uk)
- Summary and links to 5 Articles Reflect on Information Technology in Large-Scale Disaster, from idisaster 2.0
- NPR has a nice piece on The ‘Second Disaster’: Making Well-Intentioned Donations Useful
And on a quasi-related note to that last link, in 2008 Haiti was struck by a series of hurricanes and storms in a very short time. As a result of the torrential rain, and years of deforestation, there were severe mudslides in much of the country. I had the opportunity to volunteer with Hands On Disaster Relief(now All Hands Volunteers), and help dig mud out of peoples homes and try and restore a sense of normalcy by getting a school cleared out and repainted. It was a humbling and inspiring experience, that I often feel guilty about having enjoyed so much. Leading up to my trip I was frequently asked, why wouldn’t I just write a cheque in the amount of my airfare to the organization, rather than going to Haiti myself. It was a fair question, one that I had grappled with for some time. While there is no doubt that monetary donations are crucial, the volunteer experience and the ‘global village’ it creates is a unique and important aspect. While on the ground in Haiti I was frequently asked by kids where I came from, and they were amazed to learn that I would travel from Canada to Haiti just to help them out and shovel mud. The feelings that both the locals and myself got from those interactions is not something that could have been captured with a cheque. On the next page are a few photos from my time in Haiti.