Today marks one year since the earthquake. There has been a great deal of commentary, dialogue, and debate over what is going well, what is not, what should be improved and how. Much of Port au Prince is still in ruins, a cholera epidemic has yet to peak, and the most recent elections were a debacle. The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to consider what will get Haiti out of survival mode and on the path to development. Doing so will depend in large part upon the Haitian government, its willingness to change, and ability to lead.
Haiti is in the midst of a cholera outbreak, the origin of which is and may remain unclear. We live in a mobile world and the source could be Africa, Asia, South America, or it may have already been in the environment. Where it came from is less important than the fact that Haiti, and especially the poorest of the poor, will always be vulnerable without clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene. This is an update on the current cholera emergency and a reflection on actions that can prevent this from happening again.
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.
Peace Corps/Haiti was never a very large program. However, Peace Corps Volunteers have long made a difference in Haiti both through the projects we participated in and the relationships we made. Likewise, Haiti made a difference for us, most of all, in the way we view the world. While Peace Corps is no longer active in Haiti, those who served there certainly are. All have been affected by the earthquake and all are taking action in some way. Below is a summary of what Haiti Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) are thinking, feeling, and doing in response. In this way, we both bear witness and re-affirm our commitment to stay connected to Haiti.
By most accounts, the Haitian Government responded well to Gustav. The Haitian Ministry of Interior’s Office of Civil Protection (DPC) played an active role, gathering information and establishing shelters nationwide. However, Hanna overwhelmed the country's capacity and produced a national catastrophe that was exacerbated by Ike. The storms affected 600,000 people in nine of ten departments. Of them, the UN is reporting that 331 people have died and 70,000 people remain in shelters. Relief has been slow because of damaged infrastructure but it is arriving.