On January 12th, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti. The earthquake leveled much of Port – Au – Prince and reversed much of the positive gains made in the past few years.
Over 70,000 deaths have been confirmed and some estimates put that number as high as 200,000.
Over 3,000,000 people have been left homeless.
The international response to the people of Haiti has been incredible.
Out of this tragedy comes an enormous opportunity to redress the historical iniquity that has burdened the Haitian since their inspired slave revolt that expelled the French colonial government and set in motion the freeing from colonial power much of Latin America.
As a result of the revolt the Haitian people were saddled with an enormous and onerous debt to be paid to the French government in the amount of 150,000,000 French francs. Or in current dollars $21,000,000,000.
Under the brutal and ruthless dictatorship of the Duvalier family, lasting some thirty years, Haiti’s debt increased some 45%.
- 47% of Haiti’s population lives in urban settings
- 75% live in abject poverty
- 56% live below the extreme poverty level of $1USD/day
- Median age is 20.2 and is approximately 50/50 male/female
- Only 21% get a secondary education
- 1% university
- UN estimates show that it is the 4th most undernourished country on the planet (June to August are known as ‘the hungry months’)
Cancel Haiti’s Debt:
This frees the Haitians from servitude to the international community.
Stop International ‘Lending’ and instead provide grants.
Doing these two things are the most significant things that can be done for the Haitian people. While it is true that the Paris Club and other lenders have eliminated much of Haiti’s debt there is still much more to go.
As we move forward, it is essential, that the Haitian people, in conjunction with the United Nations and countries that are willing, define and design a realistic plan to rebuild the infrastructure that we all take for granted.
Haiti, the United Nations and French speaking countries should develop a series of steering committees and working groups with technical expertise that address the following issues:
1) Infrastructure: Roads, Sewage, Electricity, Telecommunications, Hospitals, Education, Agriculture, etc.
2) Housing: Develop a housing plan that allows Haitians to live safely; standardize codes for building, introduce modern methods for design and build including green technologies
3) MDG’s: Find innovative and creative ways to address the MDG’s in Haiti especially as relates to nutrition, education and infant mortality
These three areas are vast in scope and in meaning to the Haitian people themselves. By addressing these not only will the international community best serve the Haitian people by modernizing the country we will also be providing knowledge, expertise and most importantly lasting JOBS and opportunity – thus HOPE – for the Haitian people.
In the National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy paper (G-PRSP) of March 2008 a plan was put together to aid Haiti. At that time it was estimated that $3,864,000,000 was what was needed to implement the first 3 year phase of the plan.
There is no quick fix in Haiti. Our efforts must be measured, practical and support the overall goal of modernizing a country that has long been ravaged by environmental, social and political strife. However, we, as the international community have an opportunity to redress the past and help modernize Haiti in a meaningful way.
“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
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