Opinions: Haiti Aid Efforts

Former Pres. Clinton: ‘We Will Create Better Tomorrows By Building Haiti Back Better’

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.N. special envoy for Haiti, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece that “early estimates indicate that nearly 3 million people – almost a third of Haiti’s population – may need aid, making this one of the great humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas.” Clinton outlines Haiti’s immediate and long-term needs and writes, “The U.S. government has pledged its full support to the recovery effort, as have the governments of many other nations. Nongovernmental organizations and ordinary citizens have offered to help. Even small contributions will make a big difference in the aftermath of such destruction.”

“[W]hat Haiti needs most is money for water, food, shelter and basic medical supplies to bring immediate relief to those who are homeless, hungry and hurt,” Clinton continues. “But after the emergency passes, the work of recovery and reconstruction will remain. … As we clear the rubble, we will create better tomorrows by building Haiti back better: with stronger buildings, better schools and health care; with more manufacturing and less deforestation; with more sustainable agriculture and clean energy” (1/14).

New York Times Opinion Examines Challenges, Successes Of Aid Efforts In Haiti

“[W]hile earthquakes are acts of nature, extreme vulnerability to earthquakes is manmade,” writes Tracy Kidder – the author of a book about Haiti who serves on the development committee of Partners in Health – in a New York Times opinion that examines the country’s history. Kidder notes that while “at least 10,000 private organizations perform supposedly humanitarian missions in Haiti, … it remains one of the world’s poorest countries.” He asserts that “[t]he ultimate goal of all aid to Haiti ought to be the strengthening of Haitian institutions, infrastructure and expertise” and outlines why he thinks “a great many efforts, past and present, appear to have been doomed from the start.”

As a result of Tuesday’s earthquake, many “places that could have been used for disaster relief – including the central hospital, such as it was – are now themselves disaster areas,” Kidder writes. “But there are effective aid organizations working in Haiti. …Partners in Health, or in Haitian Creole Zanmi Lasante, has been the largest health care provider in rural Haiti,” an organization that also offers “a solid model for independence – a model where only a handful of Americans are involved in day-to-day operations, and Haitians run the show. Efforts like this could provide one way for Haiti, as it rebuilds, to renew the promise of its revolution,” he concludes (1/13).  

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