After several days, the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is clearer. Haitians say the heart can't feel what the eyes don't see - so look at these photos from Al Jazeera and the Miami Herald as well as aerial footage by the United Nations. There is concern that the flooding could cause an upsurge in cholera cases. Given the scale of destruction, Haiti's elections have been postponed and a new date has not been determined. The humanitarian needs are real - but so too is the need to better plan for and respond to future hurricanes. Elections are rescheduled for November 20th.
The FY 2013 Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report notes Haiti is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking including 150,000 - 500,000 children (restaveks) in domestic servitude. Given that, it is highly signficant that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) helped draft an anti-trafficking bill approved by the Haitian parliament. It establishes a National Counter-Trafficking Committee and intends to improve prevention, prosecution, protection, and partnerships.
The International Crisis Group's (ICG) latest report "Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus" examines the Haitian government's efforts to convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are achievable. The report emphasizes the need for good governance, consensus building among the elites, effectively implemented poverty reduction strategies and strengthened rule of law. Getting there will require a shift from highly confrontational politics to one of compromise and consensus. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report on the ICG website.
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.
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.
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.
I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.
Stability alone may not be sufficient for sustainable development in Haiti, but it is a prerequsite. One of the ongoing challenges to stability in post earthquake Haiti has been the escape of 4,500 hardened criminals from prison, many of whom were associated with gang violence, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. On January 12th at 9:00, PBS Frontline will air a special on the efforts of the Haitian National Police to aprehened the escapees and efforts to establish a functional justice system. More information on the special, which will also be viewable online, below.
“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.