Hurricane season has begun. Flooding will be inevitable each year until environmental degradation is reversed. Still, leadership, preparation, and coordination can mitigate the human and economic costs. Jacqueline Charles describes, in the Miami Herald, the last minute efforts of the Haitian government to bolster infrastructure in Haiti's most vulnerable cities, yet to recover from the consequences of last year's storms. Haiti is more ready than it was last year, but still has a long way to go.
The Miami Herald ran an article concerning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming visit to Haiti, which will take place shortly after the International Donors' Conference. While the visit will be brief, we take this as a welcome sign that Secretary Clinton, whose responsibilities include overseeing the foreign assistance programs of both the State Department and USAID, is interested in and committed to Haiti's development.
The past year has been hard for Haiti. As usual, an emergency occurred that galvanized the attention of the international community temporarily. Humanitarian responders ramped up operations to deal with the crisis at hand. Commitments were made from donors, some of which were even kept. But other emergencies happened around the world in other countries, and the political will to help Haiti make it from emergency to development mode fades. Below is a Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles, touching on the issue of "Haiti Fatigue." Has the world grown tired of Haiti?
There is a Haitian Proverb, “fanm se poto mitan.” It means that women are the central pole of life, they support society. Sadly, the maternal clinics in Port au Prince are not able to support the numbers of pregnant mothers seeking a safe facility to give birth in. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald describes the under-resourced hospitals, their over-worked staff, and the negative impact on the health of women and children. As Paul Farmer notes in the article, ``…If you are really serious about reducing maternal mortality, you have to stay in the game a long time.'' You can read this and other Haiti related stories on the Miami Herald website. Then take a look at the short video and photos that convey the gravity of the situation.
Below is a Miami Herald article on the relationship between environmental degradation in Haiti and natural disasters. Click here to see an audio slideshow of the consequences of deforestation. The article also contains a link to an interview with Jane Wynne, who is intimately familiar with Haiti's environmental issues. As she puts it, "There is hope but only if we have the will to change." There is also a link to an interview with Prime Minister Pierre-Louis. Though it will take all of Haitian society to reverse the deforestation, her role is to prepare and coordinate a governmental response. It is long overdue.