Haiti is one of the most impoverished and least developed country in the world.
“There are too many intermediaries. If we take the US contribution alone, about 99 per cent of it goes back to the Pentagon, the State Department, the NGOs and the contractors… The growth of the republic of NGOs in Haiti began about 40 years ago, before that Haiti could feed and clothe itself.”
– Kim Ives, journalist, Haiti Liberte
And since the January 2010 earthquake – the region’s worst in 200 years – it has been struggling with political upheaval, health crises and an annual barrage of hurricanes.
The magnitude 7.0 quake killed more than 222,000 people and injured more than 300,000 others.
At least 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes.
Most were resettled in makeshift camps like these. Others fled the city for rural areas.
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission was set up to oversee the rebuilding and recovery.
Led by Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s former prime minister, many of the approved projects remain unfinished.
“The $850m the UN spends each year on a force that has no legitimate peacekeeping mission there is eight times what it is spending to contain cholera which they brought to Haiti. And, the UN continues to deny responsibility despite the evidence. Can you imagine this happening in any other country?”
– Mark Weisbrot, Latin America analyst
While there has been some rebuilding, more than half a million Haitians are still living in tents.
Since the earthquake, Haiti has experienced a cholera epidemic with more than half a million people infected, and at least another 7,000 dead.
And 4.5 million people – almost half the population – are experiencing food insecurity due to low wages and high food prices. Many Haitians live on less than $2 a day.
So why is it taking so long for Haiti to recover from the earthquake? And what will it take to speed up the process?
Inside Story Americas, with presenter Anand Naidoo, discusses with guests: Kim Ives, from the Haïti Liberte newsweekly; Mark Weisbrot from the Center for Economic and Policy Research; and Ray Laforest, a Haitian activist and community organiser.
“The quake was anything but a natural phenomenon. Not only do we have a system where Haitians are, one more time, not consulted or part of the solution, it is also treated as an emergency. Ideally, we need elections that truly elect representatives who reflect our needs and desires, and assistance would come through that government.”
– Ray Laforest, Haitian activist