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.
Port au Prince
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.
Groupe Haïtien d’Étude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infectieuses Opportunistes (GHESKIO) was selected as the 2010 winner of the prestigious Gates Award for Global Health. The honor is well-deserved given GHESKIO’s innovative clinical service, research, and training programs and rapid response in treating those injured during the earthquake. GHESKIO's leadership is needed more than ever as the Haitian health care system is reconstructed. The press release is below, a fact sheet and an interview with GHESKIO Director Bill Pape are attached, and finally click here to see the award ceremony.
It is no secret that the environmental degradation caused by Haiti's over-reliance on wood fuels negatively impacts the country's ability to feed itself, to prevent disasters, and to protect the health and nutritional status of its children. After the earthquake, many people are now finding themselves more reliant than ever on wood charcoal, while having less money with which to pay for it. Securing access to alternative, inexpensive fuel sources is key to Haiti's future. Yet no one agency owns this issue. To address the need for increased attention, resources, and coordination, the Women's Refugee Commission and the World Food Program carried out a joint assessment of cooking needs in post earthquake Haiti, attached and copied below.
The United Nations has called this the most challenging disaster response in its history. More challenges lie ahead, one of which is the upcoming rainy season. While it will not begin for several weeks, heavy rains are already occurring sporadically. Recently, eight people were killed in flooding around Les Cayes. The rains also caused a landslide that destroyed a school in Cap Haitian two weeks ago. Those who have been displaced in Port au Prince require solutions, whether that be temporary shelter or staying with a host family. Their protection, health, and well being depends upon finding shelter before the rains become a daily event.
While the impact of the earthquake was felt most acutely in Port au Prince, the entire country has been affected. Hundreds of thousands of the displaced have returned to a long neglected countryside and to secondary cities like Cap Haitian. Nate Nickerson, Director of Konbit Sante, provides an update on how Cap Haitian is dealing with the influx and what is being done to meet the health needs of returnees. You can learn more about Konbit Sante's important work, and how you can support them, on their Website and Facebook Page.
Immediately after the earthquake, information came out of Haiti in a trickle. It is now more like a flood. As of February 3, the Government of Haiti (GOH) increased its death toll estimate to over 200,000. 300,000 are reported to have been injured, 250,000 homes destroyed, and 30,000 businesses disrupted. Assessments carried out by MINUSTAH now indicate a 15-20% population increase in the South, Grand Anse, Nippes, and Central Plateau departments due to displacement from Port-au-Prince. Below is a summary of where things stand in terms of emergency response and recovery.
Haiti is a nation of resistance and resilience. Were this not the case, it would not exist. Despite what Pat Robertson and other misguided religious zealots may so, the Haitian people did not deserve this. They will pick up the pieces and begin the long, hard task of rebuilding. As Amy Wilentz states in her op-ed piece to the LA Times below, it would be a mistake to count them out. Haiti won't be the same, but it will recover.
Kathie Klarreich, who has been covering Haiti since 1986, recently wrote a Miami Herald article on the many small yet promising signs that Port au Prince is becoming calmer, better governed, and more stable. Challenges abound, including improving the delivery of health services and reforming the justice system, but these visible signs of progress contribute to a growing sense of optimism and a belief that things can and will continue to improve.
Haiti Pro is new website for entrepreneurs interested in private sector solutions to Haiti's developmental challenges. Haiti Pro Members can easily share videos of their ideas and efforts. There are already a number of interesting clips on topics including dairy franchising, wood charcoal alternatives, reforestation, and women's groups. Below are summaries of the clips that are in Kreyol and/or French. Consider joining if you are interested in small business development in Haiti.