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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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The Rains Begin Print
Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:29
With hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Haitians living in make-shift camps, the lack of rain since the earthquake has been a relief. Today, however, Reuters reports that:
Heavy rain drenched earthquake survivors in the tent camps of the Haitian capital on Thursday, bringing a warning of fresh misery to come for the 1 million people living on the streets.


Calls for Artistide's Return Print
Thursday, 11 February 2010 11:38
While Haiti continues to dig itself out of the rubble, and various individuals and groups lay out their ideas for reconstruction, there is a notable absence in Haiti. Ousted in 2004, the overwhelmingly popular Jean Bertrand Aristide is still in Pretoria, South Africa.  Yesterday, actor and activist Danny Glover, recently back from Pretoria, appeared on Democracy NOW! He was asked why Aristide has not yet returned:
Well, he’s mystified by that. You know, there’s been several calls for him to return. His party still—the Lavalas is still the largest party, that’s not participating, that’s not active in the electoral process. And yet, he’s dismayed by that, the fact that both—it seems as if the South African government and the United States are complicit in his not returning to the hemisphere.


Port-au-Prince Residents Want a Say in Their Resettlement, As is Their Right Print
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:29
Most people in Port-au-Prince recently asked by Oxfam say they do not want to move to camps outside the city. The survey also shows that most people have received very little direct information about the Haitian government’s plans to move people to new camps, leading to uncertainty about the strategy. Yesterday, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive revealed that the government itself is unclear on its relocation plan.

Oxfam states
“If new camps are set-up then people should be not be forced to go. The camps should be safe to reduce criminality and protect vulnerable groups such as women and children. They should also be seen as temporary solutions not end up as long term slums outside the city limits.”


HousAll Shelters to Haiti Print
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:30
CBC News reports that 1,200 HousAll shelters will be shipped to Haiti on Friday. The shelter "consists of plastic panels that pop into a steel frame" and will be used for medical clinics and daycares. The Founder of HousAll, Miles Kennedy is reported as saying:

"Two people can put them up with only one tool — a screwdriver," he said. "They'll withstand monsoon rains, near-hurricane winds and phenomenal snow loads."


UNASUR Makes Commitment to Haiti Print
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 13:29
This week in Quito, Ecuador, heads of state from South American nations are meeting to discuss and coordinate Haitian relief efforts. Yesterday, the leaders endorsed a proposal to create a $100 Million fund, supplemented with another $200 Million from the Inter-American Development Bank.


Haiti Needs Sunlight and Accountability on Relief and Reconstruction Effort Print
Monday, 08 February 2010 20:07
Mark Weisbrot
The Guardian Unlimited, February 8, 2010

See article on original website

Last week actors and human rights advocates Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, along with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, sent a letter to Congress and the Obama Administration calling attention to “serious mistakes that have unnecessarily delayed the delivery of medical supplies, water and other life-saving materials” to Haiti. The letter was also signed by some 90 scholars and Haiti advocates. (Disclosure: I was also a signer).


Urgent Need for Food, Shelter, Sanitation, and Medical Care Remains Print
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 18:16

A must-read article from the Washington Post today surveys the aid and relief efforts, noting there is still a dire need for more food, shelter, sanitation, medical supplies and equipment, crutches for amputees, post-operative care and rehabilitation, and much more.

“Every day, tens of thousands of Haitians face a grueling quest to find food, any food. A nutritious diet is out of the question,” as “…Overwhelmed doctors and nurses are now facing converging streams of need, from untended wounds and the illnesses born of poor sanitation to the ailments of a population that had inferior health care long before Jan. 12.”



Disaster Capitalism Print
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 15:40
The Miami Herald reports today that at least two US firms, AshBritt Inc. and DRC group, are using powerful connections both inside Haiti and the US to try and secure contracts in the aftermath of the earthquake. As the Herald notes:
It's unclear at this point who will be awarding the cleanup contracts, but there is big money to be made in the rubble of some 225,000 collapsed homes and at least 25,000 government and office buildings.


Numbing Numbers Print
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 13:11
Center for Constitutional Rights legal director Bill Quigley breaks down the Haiti relief numbers today on Common Dreams, such as:

1 million – the number of “people who have been given food by the UN World Food Program in Port au Prince – another million in Port au Prince still need help.”

63,000 is the number of “pregnant women among the people displaced by the earthquake.”

Bill notes that 7,000 tents have been “distributed by United Nations …President Preval of Haiti has asked for 200,000 tents.”



To Help Haiti, Upend Aid Habits, and Focus on its Women Print
Monday, 08 February 2010 19:57

Elaine Zuckerman, President of Gender Action and the former Inter-American Development Bank Programs Officer for Haiti, writes about what needs to be done to make sure that aid to Haiti does not repeat the mistakes of the past:

To Help Haiti, Upend Aid Habits, and Focus on its Women
By Elaine Zuckerman

The growing discourse around solving Haiti's many tragedies has, for the most part, ignored the unique plight of that nation's women, and their equally essential role in recovery.  Even before the earthquake, Haiti's women suffered disproportionately, and recently announced aid may already be headed in the same wrong direction as in decades past.  This article highlights pre-earthquake Haiti’s poverty and gender discrimination, and discusses how external assistance can end bad practices, especially by targeting women.



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