Helping Haitians Lead Long-Term Recovery
I just returned from a visit to Haiti as part of a Congressional delegation to observe the earthquake relief effort and meet with officials from the UN mission, MINUSTAH, and the U.S. Embassy. Despite the renewed awareness of Haiti’s problems, accounts in the press still seem to point to the earthquake as the source of the country’s present woes. But one can quickly see that it is a country that is as much stricken by poverty and instability as it is by natural disaster.
Indeed, the earthquake destroyed what was already a precarious economic and political situation, albeit one that was on the path to rebuilding. Several people we spoke with acknowledged the difficulty of distinguishing between earthquake relief and the efforts to address the challenges in Haiti that existed long before this recent disaster.
In the displaced persons camps, for instance, some people are there not as a result of their homes being destroyed, but because they did not have adequate homes to begin with. This poses both a moral and policy challenge. As one MINUSTAH official said, “If we make them leave or don’t provide them with aid, the message is, I have to get hit by an earthquake to get help.”
What have been long-standing issues in Haiti -- extreme social inequality, ineffective and corrupt government, and political instability -- have been exacerbated by the earthquake. Part of the challenge of managing the delivery of emergency relief and recovery is understanding and navigating these sensitivities so that the relief effort does not undermine long-term stability.
**Read the entire post on Better World Campaign's United in Peacekeeping site.