Ellen Ward (Concern Worldwide) writes below of the importance of accurate maps for promptly responding to disasters. In developing countries like Haiti, dense urban neighboods and isolated rural areas remain unmapped. The Missing Maps Initiative is an effort to fill in the blanks through crowd-sourcing. Concern and other partners have been involved in mapping neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince such as Bois Neuf, Cite Gerard, Cite Soleil in addition to communities affected by Hurricane Matthew. The Missing Maps Initiative website has resources for interested volunteers to learn how to map buildings and roads in Haiti and elsewhere using OpenStreetMap (supported by the OpenStreetMap Foundation). More information is also available on the Missing Maps Blog.
Below is an article by David McFadden (AP) concerning the 50,000 people who remain in camps seven years after the earthquake. Not everyone in the camps was/is is a victim of the earthquake. Some were victims of abject poverty and the camps were better places to be than the slums where they were living. Ninety six percent of those living in the camps left - either on their own or with assistance from a range of organizations. Solutions remain elusive for those who remain.
To be fair, the Haitian government is trying to demonstrate the leadership that was absent from the 2010 earthquake response. It is setting priorities and specifying what interventions it will and will not accept from the international community. Still, the government is quite fragile and has limited capacity. Some priorities are being determined not based on the needs of the survivors as much as the needs of the government to show that it has changed. New York Times writer Azam Ahmedoct reflects on how the response to the earthquake is shaping the response to Hurricane Matthew below.
Haiti cannot change that it will always be affected by natural disasters. What the Haitian government and civil society can change is the extent to which it plans, prepares, and mitigates natural disasters. Very little of the assistance Haiti receives is devoted to mitigation. Haiti's partners should expect, encourage and support Haiti so that it is ready for the next hurricane, mudslide, drought, earthquake or other disaster. It may be a week or a year away, but it will come. IRIN Migration Writer Kristy Siegfried explores whether Hurricane Matthew might encourage participation, partnerships, and prevention.
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.
Homophobia is a problem in Haiti for many reasons including a lack of education and an environment still too permissive of human rights violations. Religious leaders may promote tolerance or incite hatred. Being openly gay in Haiti is both dangerous and courageous. Unfortunately, the Massimadi LGBT festival has been called off due to threats against participating organizations including FOKAL, Kouraj, and others. The festival will hopefully take place safely and at a later date. The full article by AP journalist David McFadden follows.
“Father Joseph” is an inspiring documentary about a priest and community leader who has devoted his life to empowering the rural poor. Father Joseph and his colleagues launched and expanded Haiti’s largest micro-credit bank network (Fonkoze), the country’s first rural University, schools, radio station, an orphanage, and more. While the earthquake destroyed much of what had been created, Fondwa has not given up. They are building it back, just as before, little by little.
Up to 7,000 Haitian migrants may try to cross the Southern California border in the months ahead. The majority of these migrants were given humanitarian visas to live and work in Brazil following the earthquake. While there were many opportunities to work in the lead-up to the Olympics, the Brazilian economy has taken a beating as of late. As work became harder to find, Haitian migrants increasingly sought opportunities elsewhere - and often travelling dangerous routes to do so.
Poverty Inc. is a documentary about the organizations created to address poverty and the extent to which they succeed in doing so. Haiti features prominently in this documentary and offers cautionary lessons about how sometimes those who claim to be helping Haiti and other countries like it are in reality helping themselves.
The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles has covered the re-development of the Fort National neighborhood in Port au Prince. This project required extensive consultations with residents, community leaders, and gang members to even begin. Port au Prince, with its ever-growing population, has no shortage of neighborhoods where electricity, water, and common spaces were an afterthought.