Regional Geography
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Why reconstructing Haiti has been so slow

Why reconstructing Haiti has been so slow | Regional Geography |
Experts and aid officials discuss ongoing challenges and lessons learnt on the ground in Haiti...


Development and humanitarian aid projects must always take local geographic factors into consideration when devising any plan for the future.  Political uncertainty, poor transportation infrastructure, disease and not enough locally based programs are but a few of the issues that continue to plague the communities in Haiti. 

Paige Therien's curator insight, February 13, 2014 7:06 PM

Haiti is in a prime "natural disaster" zone and it is difficult for a country to recover fully after each "hit".  Disaster after disaster begins to weigh heavily on an already struggling infrastructure, government, and hope.  The earthquake that Haiti experienced in 2009 was particularly devastating.  This article aims to shed some light on a few of the reasons why, two years later, Haiti was in pretty much the same condition.  Haiti's government was basically non-existent before this earthquake, and anything that did exist was quite ineffective at making decisions.  Bureaucratic procedures made incoming aid and their supplies move into Haiti extremely slow.  Some of it stopped coming altogether when cholera began to make a huge presence within the population.  As seen with this situation, as well as in other countries, uncoordinated aid and conflicting agendas of different organizations can do more harm than good.  Also, urban settings are extremely complex and can be puzzling to an outsider, particularly in times of desperate need.  When rebuilding, it is important to consider the future in terms of what else nature and location has in store for them.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 14, 2015 11:31 PM

There are a myriad of reasons for why “after almost two years…reconstruction has barely started,” but the lack of “local” help stood out to me the most. As the article mentions, the NGO’s have been responsible for taking care of Haiti’s relief efforts, most of whom are outside sources. On some level it isn’t surprising that the UN and NGO’s took the lead as their seemed to be no prominent leader in the country due to the lack of political stability mentioned in the article. However, for the outside efforts to “ignore” the actually population of the country just perpetuates the problem. As the people enforcing all the change, I consider the NGO’s to be more of a leader as they are trying to go about handeling the welfare of the nation (however misguided there attempts) as they are the ones calling the shots about what is done. Since they are doing work with no help, when they leave no one is around to lead once again because an atmosphere was never cultivated to encourage Haitian leadership.


Just throwing money at the problem without local support is also troubling because it doesn’t actually seem to be an effective met the needs of the population either. In the paragraph that discussed poor coordination, one sees a major concern is that groups are duplicating efforts of another group through the use of donations. We know this is happening without the “local community.” So one would think the people who actually live in the country would maybe know there country the best. Not the outside European relief efforts though despite the fact that they respond poorly to “urban settings” poorly. Time and time again, this has been a problem with the way developed countries respond to under-developed countries. I often think developed countries hold on to the success the IMF had with England after WWII, when throwing money at a situation actually worked. However, this isn’t the 1940’s anymore and there are many studies showing those methods just aren’t working (probably because the money isn’t being used correctly). As such, it should be time for a change in methods. Yet, it seems only the developed countries are capable of making that call and it’s not one they seem to be making anytime soon.


I am in no way suggesting the world just let Haiti be. One positive aspect of globalization is that communities in need can actually get relief from other parts of the world. Yet, in that same hand is the negative aspect. For that money is typically misused. Instead I propose that as a means to rectify the downside of globalization other nations work with the Haitian people to create a country that the Haitians can actually claim as their own. 

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