FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Working with the Haitian Government

Haiti’s lack of infrastructure and history of corruption should be considered in shaping the international response to Tuesday’s earthquake. But these factors should be a reason for investing in infrastructure and good governance, not for bypassing Haiti’s government.

Help the government provide basic honest services to its citizens both in the short term and the long term.

Excluding the government now might expedite aid and relief in the short run, but it will also expedite the return of the disaster relief set when Haiti is unable to handle the next environmental stress.

Haiti’s devastation exposed the disadvantages of an extremely limited government. The earthquake itself was a natural phenomenon, but its horrible toll was largely the product of manmade factors like the failure to prevent shoddy construction on precarious slopes (or provide safer housing) and a health care system already stretched to the breaking point. Sixteen months ago, and five years ago, similar factors produced high death tolls from tropical storms that hit neighboring countries harder but less lethally.

The international community should also be modest about our own aid and disaster response capability. We do not always execute relief well as seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And there are inefficiencies: a joke in Haiti says a minister skimming 10 percent from a foreign aid project is corruption, a Washington consulting firm skimming 40 percent is overhead.

Aid often conforms to needs of U.S. campaign donors over the needs of Haitian victims. Food aid, for example, reduces stockpiles of excess, subsidized U.S. corn better than it fights hunger. It sometimes even increases hunger in Haiti by undermining otherwise sustainable local farmers. When farmers cannot sell their grain because Uncle Sam is giving it away, they close down their farms and move — to a shoddy house on a precarious slope in the city.

An effective international response to the earthquake will minimize the damage of the next stress in Haiti, by including both short- and long-term measures to develop the government’s capacity to provide basic, honest services to its citizens.

BRIAN CONCANNON Jr., a human rights lawyer, is director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail