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Opinions On Rebuilding Haiti: Role Of U.S., Good Governance Efforts, Orphans, Poverty

U.S. Must Continue To Support Haiti’s Vision For ‘Reconfiguration’

In McClatchy opinion piece, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discusses her recent trip to Haiti and outlines the U.S. role in the country’s rebuilding. “Congress is committed to helping Haiti recover from this tragedy. Congress has not only taken action to express condolences and solidarity with the Haitian people, but also to incentivize charitable giving for Haiti,” Pelosi writes. “In the coming weeks, Congress will consider a request from the Obama Administration to help the Haitian people by providing long-term assistance to strengthen the capacity of Haiti’s institutions and help its leaders focus on sustainable economic development, reduce the risk of disaster, and prepare for future emergencies.”

According to Pelosi, U.S. “actions will be part of a global effort aligned with the priorities of the Haitian government and aimed at directly empowering the Haitian people to build a future that is better than the past. Strong accountability and transparency must rest at the center of this undertaking.” She concludes: “It is imperative that we continue to support the Haitian people in the reconfiguration of Haiti” (3/4).

Past Aid Failures In Haiti Should Inform Rebuilding Efforts

Dozens of governments and aid groups are scheduled to meet at the United Nations later this month to pledge millions, perhaps billions, in assistance to Haiti. My advice to many of those donors: Stay home,” former New York Times foreign correspondent Joel Brinkley writes in a McClatchy-Tribune News Service opinion piece. Two decades of efforts in Haiti have been “nearly all … for naught,” Brinkley says as he examines reports by the World Bank, USAID and the National Academy of Public Administration.

Brinkley continues: “The U.S. State Department classifies Haiti as one of the world’s two least functional nations. … So when the donors meet at the United Nations later this month, what should they do? Give up on good governance projects, a favorite of NGOs. Decades of effort have accomplished practically nothing. As the World Bank put it, ‘projects in Haiti have unusually low outcome ratings, along with very limited institutional-development impact.’ What the world should do is what it has been doing since the earthquake on January 12: Supply emergency food, clothing and medical supplies. Help Haitians rebuild the homes, schools, medical facilities and other infrastructure that collapsed in the quake. Reunite families; help orphans find homes. … Don’t throw money at programs that have been proved to produce no useful results” (3/4).

U.S. Must Adopt New Approach To Global Orphans

When it comes to Haiti’s reconstruction, “the well-being of Haiti’s children” is “[o]f particular concern,” according to a Washington Examiner opinion piece by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.). “Prior to the earthquake, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that 380,000 of Haiti’s children were orphans. This number could double or triple in the months ahead,” write the senators, who co-chair the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Children who lose parents in natural disasters should be provided with “permanent families” and in Haiti’s case the U.S. should assist with “the development of a child welfare system that supports the healthy development of children in and through families,” the senators write.

They go on to describe and defend the Families for Orphans Act, which would “establish the State Department Office of Orphan Policy, Diplomacy and Development to assist countries like Haiti in developing a child welfare system that promotes the idea that children are best raised in families rather than in institutions.” In response to critics of the bill who say the new office would be “duplicative of existing U.S efforts on orphans,” Landrieu and Inhofe write that “there is absolutely nothing redundant about creating an office to address an issue that is admittedly not a focus of USAID or UNICEF child protection efforts” (3/3).

Poverty Underlies Disparate Outcomes From Haitian, Chilean Earthquakes

“The earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday morning was 500 times more powerful than the one that ravaged Haiti less than seven weeks earlier. Yet the difference in death tolls and damage is even more striking: More than 200,000 Haitians perished in a matter of minutes, while the body count in Chile likely will not exceed 1,000,” Richard Stearns, president and CEO of the U.S. offices of World Vision, writes in a Seattle Times column where he points to poverty as a source underlying these different outcomes. “On Jan. 12 Haiti had few government safety nets for the poor, a substandard health-care system in most of its communities, and a nearly nonfunctioning economy,” he writes.

“In the aftermath of these tragedies, Chile will need support, but Haiti will need intensive investment, not for months, but years. Years of economic development, years of building and staffing clinics and schools, years of enforcing the rule of law and good governance,” Stearns concludes (3/2). 

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