Haiti 2010 Earthquake Response

People of Haiti left out of recovery planning process

One would expect that the United States, which proclaims itself a friend of democracy everywhere, would insist that the world community give the Haitian people a voice in the development of post-earthquake recovery plans.  Instead, the planning process has been exclusive, with input confined to a handful of wealthy and powerful Haitians and international aid organizations.

The Haiti government’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, launched February 18, granted one week, March 14-20, for “consultation with civil society and the private sector,” according to the terms of reference. However, the government is to approve the draft plan on March 15. Furthermore, the government has failed to invoke even the token discussions, not consulting civil society in any way except informally with some businesspeople and several non-governmental organizations who do not speak for citizens.

The majority of Haiti’s workers and families, whose cooperation and labor will be essential to rebuilding Haiti, have been left out in the cold, as if they were mere set dressing for the recovery.  Thus, the Haitian people are being disenfranchised on a scale that threatens to make the January 12 earthquake only the secondworst disaster to strike the nation in 2010.

In response, local NGOs and grassroots organizations are organizing to develop a plan of their own, not just for repairing the damage caused by January’s earthquake, but for a just and participatory government.  Ricot Jean-Pierre, director of the Platform to Advocate Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA) describes the core problem.

“When the people take to the streets to say that they are hungry, for instance, the state is deaf. When the international community speaks, the state listens. The international community is giving orders. The people need to get the attention of the state, which must respond to their demands and needs.

The solution, says Jean-Pierre, is to “build a model of cooperation.”

“We want to create another world which is based on solidarity and equality between women and men, rich and poor, North and South – not just one above and another below being exploited. We need to learn how we each can complement and learn from the other.

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