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Thursday, February 10, 2011

A "To Do List" for Haiti

I recently read an article posted in the New York Times which suggested, in order of importance, the next five essential steps Haiti must take in order to finally move forward after the earthquake that devastated the entire country a little more than a year ago.

The author suggests that the first and most important step is to elect a credible government.

"President Rene Preval has failed to provide desperately needed leadership. Many basic policy questions, such as where to build new housing, have still not been made. That leadership crisis was made even worse by November’s chaotic presidential election and charges that an electoral council, handpicked by Mr. Préval, may have cooked the results. Observers led by the Organization of American States have just re-examined vote tallies and reported that the second-place finisher, Mr. Préval’s protégé Jude Célestin, was, in fact, out of the running, as many Haitians and observers believed. Mr. Préval and Mr. Célestin should accept that result and urge the country forward to a swift, better organized, runoff between the top two candidates: Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly

The second step is to energize the recovery commission.

"The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, set up to unite donors and Haiti’s leaders, was also very slow off the mark. It has now approved $3 billion in projects, $1.6 billion of them financed. It needs to develop and implement more comprehensive strategies for housing, health care, government reform and agriculture. Former President Bill Clinton and Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, have provided important direction but need to push harder."

The third step, contain cholera.

"The epidemic is a horrifying reminder of why Haiti so urgently needs clean water and access to medical care — two of the yet-to-be-delivered-on promises. More than 3,000 people have been killed and thousands more are threatened. Aid has been slow to arrive and the response — despite valiant relief efforts — has been hobbled by poor coordination and overconcentration in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The epidemic must be contained, and relief organizations need to learn from this flawed effort."

The fourth step, clear more rubble and house the displaced.

"These are inextricably linked. The country is drowning in its own rubble, and needs space to rebuild. Many main roads in the capital are now clear, and every day the government removes debris that residents gather from local streets. Even with the best coordination, this task may take another year or more. Building homes for more than one million displaced people could take two or three years. The next president must quickly make important land-use decisions and employ all of his or her legal and persuasive powers against entrenched landowners and the bureaucratic status quo to get construction moving."

And the last step, promote jobs and investment.

"Here, too, there are glimmers of progress. The Haitian government, the United States and Inter-American Development Bank have signed a deal on an industrial park in northern Haiti. A South Korean textile company will be an anchor tenant and expects to hire 20,000 people. The project includes improvements in the port of Cap Haitien and in water supply, sewage treatment and electrification. Haiti obviously needs more than one showcase project. But this is the kind of sensible planning and long-term commitment that will help build stability and bring more investment. It recognizes that new industrial development also needs houses, roads, schools and services, so that factories do not become surrounded by shantytowns. And that as the economy is rebuilt, it must also be relocated out of badly crowded Port-au-Prince."

What do you think? Do you agree with the order of importance? Is there anything you would add or remove from this list?

-GlassFrog Blogger Jessica

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Particularly with the last step- which I think can viably be intertwined in all of the steps by empowering the Haitian community to take control of their own destiny. By guiding them in the right direction, offering support and funding for LOCAL initiatives, I think we could see a real turnaround. But no matter how successful the first 4 steps are, nothing will change in the long run without the accomplishment of step 5. Without it, the cycle of dependency will continue to cripple the nation.