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Opinions: Haitian Housing; U.S. Foreign Aid

Haitians, International Donors Need To Do Better On Housing

“The only thing that seems to be moving relentlessly ahead in Haiti is the weather, with punishing heat and near-daily thunderstorms settling in for the summer – and the hurricane season that just begun,” according to a New York Times editorial highlighting some of the problems with the Haitian reconstruction effort. “Meanwhile, more than a million people are still displaced, many in tent cities with little protection from the storms. And Haiti’s government has no clear strategy to get them out of the camps and into more secure shelter any time soon,” the newspaper writes.

The New York Times describes the situation in Corail-Cesse Lesse, “a new camp about 10 miles north of Port-au-Prince,” which is highlighted as “one example among many of disastrously poor planning.”

The editorial concludes: “With all the attention to Haiti’s problems and the vast outpouring of generosity, it is intolerable that so many Haitians still have no safe place to live. [President Rene Preval] and his government urgently need to do better. So do Haiti’s backers in Washington and at the United Nations” (6/8).

U.S. Investment In Development, Diplomacy Is Essential

In a Politico opinion piece, former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) outline why the U.S. should “engage with the world” through a “renewed commitment to development and diplomacy – as well as our military strength.”

“As the military does its job in stabilizing troubled states, vigorous humanitarian and diplomacy efforts can ensure that we build a lasting peace by strengthening communities and governments, reinforcing the foundations for growth and opportunity and neutralizing those who wish our country harm,” Daschle and Frist write. “Whether it’s a Peace Corps volunteer introducing a local farmer to a new crop that is more nutritious and marketable, or a women’s group receiving a small loan to start a basket-weaving business to provide for their families, America spreads a message to the people of the world that we are a valuable partner – and friend. Aid works,” according to the authors, who laud various global health efforts including PEPFAR and President Barack Obama’s “plan to address global hunger and food security and … maternal and child health through the Global Health Initiative.”

Daschle and Frist write that they “see eye to eye on why rebuilding our civilian-led tools of development and diplomacy is important” and conclude that for “slightly more than 1 percent of the federal budget, our investment in helping others to help themselves overseas is one of the most cost-effective ways our government can keep us both safe and prosperous” (6/7). 

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.