An interesting Miami Herald article circulated last week concerning Lake Azuei, the largest in the country and a source of livelihoods for many. The lake’s waters have been rising for two years as a result of clogged drainage canals and deforested mountains that are no longer capable of absorbing rainfall. If Haitian authorities do not demonstrate leadership in addressing the country’s environmental challenges, of which this is one, the end result will be yet more disrupted lives, livelihoods, and communities. From Gonaives to Lake Azuei to the slums of Port au Prince full of Haitians from the countryside who have given up on agriculture, the need for better environmental management is clear.
The devastation to Gonaives brought with it a sense of déjà vu for Haiti watchers. We’ve been here before - the damage from Tropical Storm Jeanne was massive. Then as now, there were serious humanitarian needs that donors, non-governmental, and international organizations struggled mightily to meet. Then as now, there were a steady flow of politicians and celebrities. Other disasters happened elsewhere and Haiti again fell of the radar. The long term steps needed to ensure the survival of the city were not taken. Will things be different this time or will a preventable tragedy happen yet again?
Below is an email Paul Farmer wrote to Partners in Health (PIH) HQ concerning the recent flooding in Haiti. The country is dealing with a true catastrophe, described by President Preval as a "nationwide Katrina." In addition to their responsibilities on the Central Plateau, PIH is stepping up by helping the Ministry of Health provide life saving services throughout the Artibonite. If you have been asking yourself how you can help Haiti, a donation to PIH to fund their emergency operations is an excellent way to do so. You can make a donation directly through their website. For additional information, read the transcript of an interview of Paul by Democracy Now here.