Haiti -- Two Years Post Earthquake: What You May Not Know

Posted by Cheryl Mills
January 9, 2012
Amelia, a Haiti Earthquake Survivor and Student in Port-au-Prince

The power of Haiti's heritage and its people is tremendous. For America, Haiti has held, and continues to hold, a unique and rich role in African-American history. Before and since the earthquake in 2010, Haiti has faced great challenges -- ones they are working to confront and to lead the international community in helping them solve. The U.S. government -- and the American people -- has had the privilege of being a steadfast partner in Haiti's efforts. As we approach the second anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, it is important to remember those who lost so much; and, to honor Haitians' unrelenting commitment to realize a more prosperous and stable nation by shining a light on some of the progress toward the great future they seek.

There is so much work still to be done -- by the government and people of Haiti, international partners, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Too often when things begin heading in the right direction, commitments wane and past habits reemerge. We must not let that happen. On the part of the United States, we know in Haiti we have not always measured success by whether the lives of Haitians visibly improved. And, we are continuing to take steps to do better, implementing the principles President Obama set out for effective development in his administration: coordinating with other stakeholders, working closely with the Government of Haiti and following their lead, and holding ourselves accountable through rigorous monitoring of results. We are focused on improving our impact further -- from decreasing the time it takes to contract for critical needs and increasing the number of contracts we award through Haitian entities and local partners, to widening the scope and enhancing the effectiveness of our work to build Haitian capacity, to speeding the time it takes for our investments to get on the ground and have an impact.

In the coming days there will be stories about Haiti that focus on what still must be done -- like speeding the progress of donors' deployment of assistance, finding homes for the 500,000 people who still live in camps, remaining vigilant to dampen the impact of cholera, and creating more jobs, investment and economic growth. We agree. But we also think it is important to recognize the successes that are too seldom discussed or celebrated -- particularly given how great Haiti's needs were even before the earthquake. And Haiti has made progress. So I wanted to take a moment to share some of those successes.

Ten Things You May Not Know About Haiti Today

1. Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has completed more than 28,500 temporary shelters, housing approximately 143,000 people. The U.S. government has also funded repairs to more than 6,000 "yellow" structures -- those that were deemed structurally safe if repairs are made. Today, more than 40,000 have returned to those homes.

2. Over half of the estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble created by the earthquake has been removed -- almost 50 percent of which was removed through efforts of the U.S. government.

3. In 2011, Haitians went to the polls and elected a new President, Michel Martelly, to succeed Rene Preval. This election marked the first democratic transfer of power from one democratically elected government leader to a member of the opposition.

4. For the first time in more than 25 years, Haiti is poised to have all three branches -- executive, legislative and judiciary -- of government in place. President Martelly has appointed three members of the Supreme Court, including the Court's president -- a position that was vacant for six years and is central to the judiciary's oversight body.

5. The Haitian Ministry of Health, supported by the international community including USG through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID, led the international community's response to prevent and treat cholera -- bringing the case mortality rate below the international standard of one percent.

6. According to the UN Special Envoy for Haiti's website, of the 4.5 billion pledged for Haiti for 2010-2011, approximately 2.4 billion had been spent by December 2011. In October, the legislative mandate for the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) ended. During its tenure, the Commission approved 89 projects across 8 sectors valued at more than 3 billion dollars. Even in the absence of a legislatively mandated coordination mechanism, the 12 largest donors continue to leverage the relationships built through the IHRC to coordinate among themselves and work with the Government of Haiti through resident representatives.

7. The Government of Haiti, with the support of stakeholders, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is providing schooling to 260,000 elementary students for a total of 750,000 elementary students enrolled this school year.

8. The Government of Haiti is overhauling its state-owned electricity company, Electricite D'Haiti (EDH), which provides electricity to just 12 percent of the population and requires more than 100 million a year in government subsidy to operate. The Government of Haiti has appointed new Haitian leadership and an internationally respected turnaround management team funded by the U.S. government. In the first three months, the new management has helped the utility company improve its operations, its transparency and its fiscal efficiency, identifying more than 1.6 million in monthly savings. The new management will not only improve and expand services, but also help reduce the substantial government subsidy for EDH's operations, freeing these resources up for other critical needs.

9. The U.S. government is doing development differently in Haiti, consistent with the principles of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and its focus on catalyzing economic growth:

Caracol Industrial Park: In November, President Martelly, President Clinton, and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno and more than a 1,000 members of the local community took part in an official ceremony laying the Park's foundation, on track for its March opening. The speed and efficiency of implementation rivals the fast-moving construction schedules of industrial projects across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The 250-hectare Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti is a 300 million public-private partnership supported by increased U.S. trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act and the coordination mechanisms created by the IHRC. The USG helped convene the GOH, the IDB and Korea's largest apparel manufacturer, Sae-A, the Park's anchor tenant. Sae-A has committed to create 20,000 direct jobs and invest 78 million over six years, one of the largest investments in Haiti's modern history. With the arrival of other tenants, the Park has the potential to create 65,000 direct jobs, with additional opportunities expected for vendors, repair shops, farmers and other small businesses. USG investments will provide for electrification, new housing, and port facilities. IDB investments will provide for the construction of the park facilities and roads. The GOH is contributing the land and managing the project top to bottom with a team of Haitian professionals.

Agriculture: Through USG investments in agriculture and food security, more than 9,700 farmers have benefited from improved seeds, fertilizer, technologies, and techniques. This has resulted in a 64 percent increase in rice yields, a 338 percent increase in corn yields, a 97 percent increase in bean crop yields and a 21 percent increase in plantain yields for these farmers. As a result of a full value chain approach, incomes are up over 50 percent for 8,750 small farmers.

10. Haiti is experiencing continued and increasing international investment interest. A multi-day conference on business development opportunities in Haiti drew around 1,000 business leaders from the private sector as well as officials from 29 countries spanning the Americas, Asia and Europe. Marriot and Digicel announced the construction of a new 45 million Marriot hotel in Port-Au-Prince, with the construction by several developers of more than 750 hotel rooms in the pipeline -- representing the largest growth in the industry for the Caribbean region, which includes popular tourist destinations in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

When I first started working in Haiti, someone steeped in working there said to me, "you cannot chase needs in Haiti because Haiti's needs are too great. You must chase opportunities." I urge everyone to continue to chase opportunities in Haiti -- to stay committed. In the days and weeks after the earthquake, more than half of all Americans gave money to help make a difference in Haiti's future. I encourage you to go back to the organization you supported -- you will see the difference you helped make -- and can continue to make. Together we can help Haitians achieve the future they deserve.

Editor's Note: This entry appeared first on the Huffington Post.



January 10, 2012

Derek in Pakistan writes:

Great photo! Good content too. What about 5 or 6 more showing some of the people in the process of being helped?

United States
January 10, 2012

Holly in the U.S.A. writes:

I think these strides are exemplary for a struggling country, but let's not forget that at the end of the day 30,000 children still die from hunger related causes...1,000 women still die from child birth and pregnancy complications and due to the poor and or lack of economy for the Haitians children are placed in positions of "restaveks" or child slavery for very little food or shelter

District Of Columbia, USA
January 10, 2012

Demba N. in Washington, D.C. writes:

The facts and figures are breathtaking:

230,000 Estimated Deaths
2 Million Estimated Displaced Individuals in Haiti
1.6 Million VERIFIED of Displaced Individuals in Settlements
3 Million Estimated Affected Population

Despite all the international community sudden compassionate outcry, and pouring dollars, a lot is being learnt as who really are the invisible hands making or breaking deals in Haiti reconstruction schemes.

It's not means which make development sustainable, but the ability for stakeholders to size up the challenge and envision indigenous exit strategies in accordance with local priorities. In the case of Haiti, stakeholders are shareholders meticulously weighing, simulating and gauging, day in and day out, several predatory assistance schemes making the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere a sudden object of attention, a safe heaven for an open and orchestrated scramble for Haiti, a "Berlin Conference-1884-1885" bis to divide and conquer Haiti.

This, nothing else, is the reason why it takes time for the reconstruction effort to evolve as sought from a practical standpoint! From the point of view of those millions of families directly or indirectly affected, from the point of view of those children now spending this wintry season out under a shaky tent... This dilatory assistance scheme itself is sought to lead to more additional deaths and disabled that would count as a surplus of saved money towards the assistance plan in mind when those monies was sought to reach the century old horseshoe shaped country...

Article Source: "http://EzineArticles.com/5729917"

Richard P.
Michigan, USA
January 10, 2012

Richard S. in Michigan writes:

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 – Is the U.N. Human Trafficking Awareness Day

"http://www.combat-trafficking.army.mil/documents/training/TIP Haiti Relief Efforts.ppt"

Haiti Earthquake Relief - Combating Trafficking in Persons

WARNING: This training deals frankly and candidly with the realities of trafficking in persons (TIP), which capitalizes on human misery and exploitation. To some people, being exposed to the details about trafficking in persons (TIP) may be considered distasteful.

January 10, 2012

John in Canada writes:

Completely avoidable crisis - how much aid $$ - for what value? Failure begets failure. Embarrassing and inexcusable waste of aid. If you had people that had a clue what to do, with no nonsense and excuses, some WILL to do what is right - problem solved. The world cant manage a crisis in such a small nation.

When and not IF multiple global crisis hit simultaneously - lets say it together - SCREWED.

In so many ways we are really quite screwed. This Haiti issue should be a wake up call. These areas that are hit with disaster WILL be ground zero for a very nasty disease.

Whats staggering is that this is still a problem.

Carrie g.
Oregon, USA
January 13, 2012

Carrie G. in Oregon writes:

Through medical missions which are self financed we provide a brief bandage to those we see in Haiti. As a nurse, our focus needs to more specific toward teaching poorer villages prevention of basic health care issues (scabies, ringworm, other fungus related illnesses, water purification practices, food preparation). Birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies should be a focus. Many of the men and women we see are frightened of simple techniques for temporary birth control that this free offer is often unused. Some religious beliefs do interfere with our efforts, cultural as well, however, more widespread education will bring about a healthier change, if not slow.

We as volunteers, need to unite through our embassy to be aware of local resources available to the cities and villages we visit. It could include avenues for low cost, free medications, to written education we volunteers can utilize when seeing patients.

By combining the country's resources and our embassy's we can provide a more unified approach to medical care provided for Haitians.

Jean L.
United States
January 24, 2012

Jean L. in the U.S.A. writes:

One always talk about helping Haiti or Haiti funds mismanagement: But the reality is that the International Community is enriched itself through Haiti's problem. The money is controlled and distributed not really to the people in needs. It is big business in Haiti and because everyone knows that there are problems in Haiti, therefore it is easy to blame it on Haiti and Haitians. Most funds don't really go to Haiti or are spent through gang of big friends. Some of the money doesn't really help Haiti but destroy Haiti. No real change in the infrastructure as it is done in other countries with similar problems. For instance, Minustah opens several markets in Haiti and orders markets to sell to other markets JUST TO AVOID PAYING TAXES. What kind of help is that?

Haiti needs big infrastructure. Haiti needs Airports, Ports, Roads, Power plants. US built an 80 million power plant in Afganistan where US soldiers are being killed. They don't even use this plant. Haiti needs Power plant as well, none is built. US refused Venezuela to build or restore Haiti only one International Airport, but doesn't help in building one. Why? What is giving to Haitians is food, why don't they help them feed themselves? They are talking about reconstruction when they are building a bunch of extremely small quatters that will be overpulated in the years to come and make more mess than it is now. Why? Why don't make normal villages as US do in Irak, Afghanistan , Europe and elswhere? All the money is being spent but there is no real change. Big guys are buying Haiti's land for monies and exploit their big business; Al Gore : the Haitian Coffee in Cap Rouge, Bill Clinton has bought lands and lands.The International community is dividing the country in pieces and the Haitian people gets nothing. Let's be serious, just let's be Human. Please. Just treat the Haitian the same way you treat other people. USA has rebuilt Europe in Plan Marshall after World War II, USA has rebuilt Japan, USA can do it because they do it where they want. Why Haiti? Give Haiti also big infrastructures, roads, power plants for electricity, irrigation, etc. You can do that, you have done that elsewhere. If US prevents China, Cuba and Venezuela to help Haiti, US should do it themselves. It doesn't matter where the help comes from, Haiti just needs real help. Haiti needs good schools, Universities, research Labs, Stop exploiting its resources or prevent their exploitation for your own goods. Haiti has gold, gas, copper, gold, coal, beauxite, etc. some US companies have taken all of those for free in the past, without paying any taxes to Haiti and without paying its people. Dauphin plantation etc.

Haiti is being occupied and ripped not helped.

T G.
March 24, 2012

TG in Georgia (U.S.A.) writes:

It is great that we become aware of need for compassion towards all on Earth. In time of crisis, we need each other. The ego of man is no longer flaring up when he is down. We are grateful when we come together to the same understanding in the same compassionate spirit instead of division. It is not in time of crisis that we must come running. It is not when we're dying that we become aware of our neighbors' dying. We all have the same basic need for love, food and shelter. The competitive spirit is negatively destroying us. We need to walk in the spirit of compassion, love and understanding than in a negative spirit. This is what we all owe to humanity. The time is short. Love you all. Continue the good work of love.

"Toninno & Gigi"

Rev. S.
Florida, USA
July 5, 2012

Rev. John F. Stanton in Miami writes:

I read the article, "Haiti - Two Years Post Earthquake" with great interest. It describes several good initiatives. Nevertheless, many Americans still ask the question, 'What happened to all the money which was given from all over the world to help people in Haiti?" Where can we get an accounting of the money which was donated, the money which was spent and the money which remains to be spent?


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