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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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MSF: "Shelter, Hygiene and Basic Living Conditions Are Not Being Met" Print
Friday, 05 March 2010 11:47
A critical look at the situation in Haiti by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) highlights the "broadly insufficient" aid efforts on the ground in Haiti. Colette Gadenne, manager of MSF activities in Haiti and Christopher Stokes, General Director of MSF in Brussels,  both recently returned from Haiti. Stokes, while acknowledging what has been accomplished, says:
But for a large percentage of Haitians, some two months after the earthquake, it must be said that this solidarity has not always been reflected in actual aid on the ground, mainly in terms of shelter and sanitation.
Gadenne adds:
There are around 20 sites, the largest of which have received material assistance – tents, tarpaulins, toilet facilities, water, food, etc. – and basic medical assistance. The assistance given to these sites is incomplete, and there are dozens of other sites which still lack even the most elementary aid. Thousands of Haitians have still not seen any aid.
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Haitian PM: Aid Bypassing Government, Better Coordination Needed Print
Thursday, 04 March 2010 13:57
Although the US and UN have stressed the fact that the Government of Haiti is playing an active role in the relief efforts, and numerous experts have stressed the importance of strengthening the Haitian State, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive's comments indicate the Government's growing frustration over the relief efforts. Reuters reports:
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive decried a lack of coordination by aid donors with his government but stopped short of saying all bilateral aid should be funneled through the government.

"We don't know who has given money to NGO's (nongovernmental organizations) and how much money have they given. ... At the moment, we can't do any coordination or have any coherent policies for giving to the population," Bellerive told a news conference.
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The "Fault Lines" in Haiti's Relief and Reconstruction Print
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 18:15
A thought-provoking piece from anthropologist and filmmaker Mark Schuller on Huffington Post today asks some hard questions of the international community:
As of a month after the earthquake the estimate of aid donated is $600 million for Haiti relief efforts (compare this to the $20 billion in Wall Street bonuses).

And yet, there are still an estimated 600,000 people today who are not covered when the rainy seasons come. According to aid agencies' own estimates, only 35% of the needs for tents and tarps in Port-au-Prince are being met - and this up from 30% a week and a half ago. While the rains haven't come yet, they surely will. I join many others in asking why this is, especially given this outpouring of generosity.
But there is hope for moving beyond some of the obstacles to aid delivery, Schuller writes:
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Closer Coordination With Local Groups Key to Improved Relief Effort Print
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:22
This is the main message from an evaluation of relief efforts released Tuesday by Refugees International. The report concludes that "By all accounts, the leadership of the humanitarian country team is ineffectual."
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"I Have Seen Too Many Big NGOs Waste Too Much Money And I Am Fed Up" Print
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 13:54
The AP reports today on the difference in approach, and outcomes of large aid organizations versus smaller do-it-yourself operations; especially prevalent given the lack of shelter and the rainy season fast approaching.
The Miami property developer, volunteering after Haiti's earthquake, was horrified to see children sleeping in the dirt under makeshift tents of bed sheets propped up on sticks. A global, billion-dollar aid effort should be able to do better, he thought.

He decided he could do better himself.

Michael Capponi flew home, collected donated tents, flew them back to Haiti and persuaded a mayor to let him build a proper camp for hundreds of families on the soccer field of a gated community of luxury villas. It took him three days and less than $5,000.

"I didn't put this together to get a pat on the back, but to show the world it can be done rather quickly, and with limited funds," said Capponi, 37.
Read more...

 

 
"WSJ: Global Aid Is No Relief for Small Haitian Businesses" Print
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 10:25
The Wall Street Journal reports on the effects of aid on local markets and small businesses in Haiti:
After the Jan. 12 quake, which killed as many as 300,000 people, the world launched a massive relief effort to bring food, water, medicine and other supplies to needy Haitians. The U.S. alone has spent more than $665 million, official figures show.

But only a tiny fraction of that money is being spent in Haiti, buying goods from local businesses. Worse, the aid is having the unintended consequence of making life harder for many businesses here, because of competition from free goods brought in by relief agencies. The damage to Haitian companies is making it harder for them to get back on their feet and create the jobs the country needs for a lasting recovery.
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Shelter: Planning to Fail Print
Tuesday, 02 March 2010 16:02
After chaos and confusions surrounding changing plans for providing shelter last week, sources on the ground say the shelter cluster has decided on a three step strategy. First, register those in the camps and if their homes are safe, ask them to return home. If this is not an option tarps will be handed out. If the camp is unsafe, or has been targeted for decongestion then those who cannot return home will be moved to different camps, although land has not yet been secured for this.

As of today, 40% of shelter needs have been covered, representing just over 500,000 people. This leaves more than 700,000 in dire need of shelter with the rainy season fast approaching, and more rain in the forecast for later this week. Yet the shelter cluster's goal is to provide one tarp per family by May 1 – possibly well after the rainy season has begun (at least 13 people were already killed in flooding over the weekend in Les Cayes).
Read more...

 

 
Debt Relief Legislation Moves Forward Print
Monday, 01 March 2010 13:39
The "Haiti Recovery Act" passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The bill, introduced by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) would eliminate Haiti's outstanding debt to International Financial Institutions (IFI) and any debt incurred during relief efforts. Also, the bill would encourage IFIs to make available grants rather than loans "in order to end the debt-relief cycle." Other aspects include the creation of an international infrastructure fund and the extension of trade benefits.
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Six Weeks On, Only 33 Percent Shelter Coverage Print
Monday, 01 March 2010 10:47
One month after the earthquake, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) had the following to say:
"It's hard to believe that four weeks after the quake, so many people still live under bed sheets in camps and on the street," said Christophe Fournier, MSF's International President who recently returned from Haiti. "Where it can, MSF has been distributing tents as well as hygiene kits and cooking supplies, but it is mainly concentrating on providing medical care. "One can only wonder how there could be such a huge gap between the promise of a massive financial influx into the country and the slow pace of distribution. MSF is concerned that with the onset of the rainy season, we'll be facing new medical emergencies, when people who are living without shelter, come to us with diarrhoea or respiratory infections."
Read more...

 

 
Food Aid Undermines Local Producers Print
Friday, 26 February 2010 18:37
*This post has been edited slightly for accuracy.

The AP reports today on the effects of US rice on Haitian farmers:
Subsidized U.S. rice has flooded Haiti for decades. Now, after the Jan. 12 quake, 15,000 metric tons of donated U.S. rice have arrived.
Read more...

 

 
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