Haiti 6 Months Later: Recovery is Slow

Claire is on travel this weekend and asked me, Kim Stephens, to add this blog posting.

This summer has been filled with images of oil-soaked marshes and underwater engineering feats and failures; the worst oil spill in our nation’s history has taken our attention away from the worst earthquake in our hemisphere’s  history.  Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of good news to report with regards to Haiti’s recovery.

As testimony to the flagging recovery, images of Haiti still show piles of debris clogging the streets,  the National Palace remains in ruins without any signs of reconstruction,  and a make-shift camp, erected soon after the quake, still sits directly across the street from the Palace.

Marking the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, John Kerry issued the following statement:

“As we pause today to remember the lives lost and communities devastated as a result of the terrible earthquake in Haiti, we must also assess what we have done for the recovery process and how we can do better. Frankly, the results are mixed. Although the initial rescue effort was commendable for its quick response, the reconstruction process has been considerably slower and too many critical priorities remain unaddressed. Rebuilding Haiti requires not just resources, but decisive action, vision, and leadership from the United States, the international community, and the Haitian government. The window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing for an effective, coordinated international and Haitian effort that can make a real difference. We will all be responsible if progress grinds to a halt. I urge my colleagues in Congress to do their part by swiftly passing the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act, as well as the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.”

For a good assessment of the situation, read the report entitled “Haiti at a Crossroads” . This report was issued to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by the majority staff who traveled to Haiti in June in order to determine “the effectiveness of relief and recovery efforts”. From the report’s introduction:

On May 25, 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Kerry-Corker Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act of 2010, S. 3317. This bill authorizes $2 billion over 2 years to support the sustainable recovery and long-term rebuild- ing of Haiti. The legislation establishes a policy framework that emphasizes just, democratic and competent governance and invest- ments in people, particularly women and children. It tasks the U.S. Agency for International Development to put together a comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy for Haiti. And it establishes a senior Haiti policy coordinator responsible for advising and coordinating U.S. policy toward Haiti.

The committee takes seriously its responsibility to oversee the expenditure of the funds that the U.S. Government has pledged and spent in Haiti, and to ensure that the administration has the policy, personnel, and processes in place for effective use of funds within the strategy. While any sustainable strategy for rebuilding Haiti must be Haitian-led, given the dire circumstances in Haiti and the decimation of Haiti’s civil service, the United States and other donors must take an active role in guiding the reconstruction process. This report highlights 10 critical issues for Haiti’s rebuilding that require urgent attention by the Government of Haiti and the Obama administration.

The ten critical issues:

  • Establish a feasible, comprehensive rebuilding strategy
  • Build leadership and capacity in the Government of Haiti
  • Empower the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission
  • Address the resettlement issue
  • Hold elections expeditiously
  • Donors need to speak with one voice and improve coordination
  • Coordinate U.S. assistance efforts with the Government of Haiti and other donors
  • Rebuild Haiti’s decimated civil service
  • Maintain security gains
  • Bring the broader Haitian community into the rebuilding process

One thought on “Haiti 6 Months Later: Recovery is Slow

  1. The failure in Haiti was the US continuing to manipulate the internal affairs of Haiti and pretending that there was a functioning Haitian Government after the earthquake. This is going to end very very badly for the Haitians and for the US soft power impact on the entirety of the Western Hemisphere and perhaps world wide. There should be a much different approach to Haiti and as a starting point the US should have admitted permanently at least 250K Haitians to the US as permanent residents. Only racism has continued to prevent the US from seeing its real responsibility in Haiti. This is one of the great failures of the Obama Administration.

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