Haiti Earthquake: Seven months and counting...by Stanley Lucas

Nadine Meriles - September 10 2010, 1:12 AM

Haiti Earthquake: Seven months and counting ...by Stanley Lucas

The shock and outrage at the lack of progress in Haiti seven months after the tragic earthquake that killed almost 300,000 people has unfortunately not translated into an uptick in action on the ground.

Still 2 million people sleeping in the streets, and there is no comprehensive plan to address this critical housing issue.

There have been increased efforts to get new tents and more regularly provide food, but today is no seven months.

Shouldn't we have moved to the longer term planning by this point?

Where is all the money?

After all the attention to the fact that only 10% of the promised aid money being delivered, there is no progress is collecting those funds?

Where did the US$1.1 billion in private donation from the US go?

Some Presidential candidates took advantage of the press bounce from the six month coverage to announce their candidacy, but little coverage has been given to anyone other than Wyclef Jean. The type of worldwide press coverage that his candidacy received does not come cheap; it is the big powerhouse public relations firms that can pull off that type of a media blitz.

There are at least three other Haitian Diaspora candidates that have announced and they do not have personal and professional misconduct.

Has anyone heard of them

Furthermore, Haitians are beginning to raise questions about whether or not humanitarian aid is quietly being used to promote the candidacy of one person over another.

Haiti has real issues to tackle, and there is a critical lack of coordination and big thinking to address those problems.

The biggest short term challenge is, of course, housing.

More than 500,000 people lost their homes in the earthquake.

Without their house, they are not only consigned to living in one of the 1,350 makeshift tent cities, but they have now lost any access to credit.

It is impossible to imagine how these people will ever pull themselves up out of this situation when there is absolutely no opportunity for them

Rather than continuing along with this patchwork of aid programs, the most beneficial path forward would be to establish a Haitian Housing Authority.

The Authority could essentially operate as a public private partnership with the participation of the World Bank, IADB, international governments, and even other NGOs that have received so much of the aid money.

This money would be a fund that Haitians who lost their homes could apply for low interest loans to build new houses, or essentially 30 year fixed mortgages at low interest.

This accomplishes many goals: kick starts the economy because people now have access to credit and there will be construction projects; gets the money directly to the people who need it; and eliminates the challenges with working with a corrupt Haitian government.

A good system could be set up to vet applicants to ensure that the money is going to the victims of the earthquake.

There is even the possibility that there could be a return on investment here and that those funds could be used to do other key projects in Haiti on infrastructure and addressing healthcare and education.

In other words, this would be sustainable development.

What we can be certain about is that the current approach in Haiti is woefully inadequate and is in no way sustainable.

And rather than address any of this, it seems the focus is now shifting toward elections which the country is not ready for and has the very real possibility of plunging Haiti into further chaos

Haitians do not want to be idling away their days in abysmal camps and model villages.

They need work. They need hope. And they need a vision for the future.

Right now, there are working toward nothing, abandoned and forgotten as NGOs toil away to address the critical issues in an ad hoc way.

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