July 22, 2012
The deadly earthquake that leveled Haiti’s capital more than two years ago brought a thread of hope: a promise of renewal. With the United States taking the lead, international donors pledged billions of dollars to help the country “build back better,” breaking its cycle of dependency.
But after the rubble was cleared and the dead buried, what the quake laid bare was the depth of Haiti’s dysfunction. Today, the fruits of an ambitious, $1.8 billion U.S. reconstruction promise are hard to find. Immediate, basic needs for bottled water, temporary shelter and medicine were the obvious priorities. But projects fundamental to Haiti’s transformation out of poverty, such as permanent housing and electric plants in the heavily hit capital of Port-au-Prince have not taken off.
Critics say the U.S. effort to reconstruct Haiti was flawed from the start.
You’d think that in Haiti, at least, we’d have been able to find some shovel-ready projects. The reader who forwarded this, who has experience in the area, says that it’s a mistake just to write Haiti off as a basket-case because it has a lot of problems. Rather, the problems we’re having in Haiti represent systemic problems with how we do business.