Inside Disaster is an interactive, educational website about the Haiti earthquake response and about humanitarian work in general. It is a companion to an upcoming three part documentary series that explores the complexities of the Haiti response. The website contains many useful resources for the aspiring or current humanitarian, the most interesting of which is a simulation that allows the participant to experience the earthquake as a survivor, as an aid worker, or as a journalist. The simulation, well worth a look, is called Inside the Haiti Earthquake. Inside Disaster would welcome your feedback on the website.
Without a doubt, post earthquake Haiti was a complex and difficult humanitarian situation. However, the response could have been much better. Below is a blog by Simon Levine which asks why we have not learned from past emergencies and why it is that we may not learn from this one as well. Immediately after is a special issue of Humanitarian Exchange, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which explores the experiences of humanitarian actors involved in the earthquake response.
Below is a report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the current state of reconstruction efforts in Haiti. It identifies ten critical issues for rebuilding Haiti. A recurring theme is the tension between the desire for the Haitian government to lead and the reality that, without increased human and technical resources, it will not be able to do so. Financial resources alone will not be sufficient. The report also emphasizes the United States Government must do a better job of coordinating with the broader international donor community and ensure that it supports Haitian plans/priorities. For now, Haiti remains at a crossroads between relief and development.
Lens, the New York Times photography blog, recently covered a Zanmi Lakay photography project in Jacmel. Through Zanmi Lakay, 28 Haitian children were given cameras and asked to document different aspects of daily life in a city trying to recover and rebuild. A description of the project is below. The photos are well worth a look and you can view them by clicking here. Who knows? Perhaps one day, some of these children will become photojournalists themselves.
John Holmes, the UN Humanitarian Chief, yesterday expressed frustration with the humanitarian response in Haiti. Holmes stated finding available land for transitional shelters, slow decision-making by the government and new waves of Haitians moving into the settlements (often for services not available in their own neighborhoods) have made responding to the crisis particularly difficult. The Haitian government, responsible for setting priorities and developing plans, lacks staffing and expertise. It is being pulled in many directions at once on issues relating to shelter, hurricane contingency planning, governance reforms, elections, law enforcement, food security, and decentralization.
Port au Prince lost many of its architectural landmarks in the earthquake. One of these was the Iron Market. While the market was hot and crowded, it was also full of energy. One cannot help but miss it. Half of the market was for vendors selling Vodoun flags, paintings and other works of art. The other side was an entrepeneurial free for all where you could find just about anything. The CNN article below notes that, while it will take years, the Iron Market will be rebuilt. Hopefully it will be bigger, stronger, and safer.
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.
The transition from emergency relief to reconstruction is happening, albeit slowly. It won’t be easy and there will be setbacks, particularly given that the rainy season is upon us along with the risks it brings of flooding, mudslides, infectious diseases, and infrastructure damage. Engineers have completed emergency mitigation measures at six of the most vulnerable settlements to protect the most vulnerable, but much remains to be done.
As we get closer to May, the rains will become more frequent and intense. Even brief rainfall to date gives an indication of how vulnerable the displaced in Port au Prince are to flooding and mud-slides. Some, such as the displaced at the Petionville Golf Club are being relocated to the hastily prepared Corail-Cesselesse site 15 km north of Port au Prince. Six other sites require urgent evacuation before the rainy season. Other sites can be made safer with engineering interventions. Disturbingly, hundreds sheltering at the National Stadium were reported to have been forcibly removed. Close coordination and rapid action are urgently needed to protect the displaced from the upcoming rains.
The upcoming Haiti Donors Conference is beginning to take shape. According to the Miami Herald, we can expect to hear support for the creation of a 20 member Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) to oversee how and where billons of dollars of aid flowing into Haiti are spent over the next 18 months. The IHRC will establish a Haitian Development Authority (HDA) to plan, sequence, and coordinate projects, all of which will require government approval. Take a look at the National Rebuilding Action Plan, based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, which will also be discussed at the conference. Thank you to Haiti Vox for posting the English version. There is a lot here to think about. Ill post my thoughts in the comments section, please do the same.