Slice of Life: Haiti: 3 Years post-earthquake
January 12, 2013 marked the three year anniversary of Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake that claimed over 222,000 lives and devastated the Port-au-Prince region. Much attention has been given concerning the fate of the $7.5 billion of international aid designated for Haiti. Many are asking why the repercussions of this money are not more visible. Approximately half of the money has been spend on relief aid: tents, food and water, medical needs, etc. These certainly saved countless lives following the quake, yet fail to contribute to a lasting infrastructure. Only a small portion of the aid money, about $215 million, went to the survivors’ most persistent needs: permanent housing. Joseph Leitmann, manager of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund claims that “Housing is difficult and messy, and donor shied away from it”. Instead, donors invested most in sectors such as transportation, health, education, water and sanitation. Jessica Faieta, senior country director of the United Nations Development Program in Haiti, laments this fact: “One area where the reconstruction money didn’t go is into actual reconstruction”.
Yet significant strides have taken place. Over half of the 10 million cubic meters of debris has been removed, with about 20% being recycled. The American Red Cross has spent 70% of its $193 million in the “Neighborhood and Housing Recovery” sector which has proven to be the largest of their programs in Haiti. According to the World Bank, the Haitian government has pledged to pay school tuition for 900,000 children with donors financing tuition for an additional 230,000 children.
So let us not forget to pray for our Haitian neighbors, as many are still struggling with the effects of the earthquake. For more information about post-earthquake Haiti, visit these sites:
Photo curtsey of Damon Winters/The New York Times