This is a guest post by Jack Lundee, offering an update on Haiti and the work done there by the Clinton Global Initiative (a UniversalGiving partner).
It has been one full year since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the capital city Port-Au-Prince and surrounding areas of Haiti. The Red Cross has estimated between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed as a direct result of the earthquake or waiting from medical rescue and services in addition to 2,000,000 peoples left homeless after the earthquake. The US government has given $171 million dollars in aid toward rescue and reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
A year after the earthquake a mere 5% of the debris and wreckage has been cleared. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living in tented communities. Most buildings sit destroyed including the National Palace, which remains partially caved in, in the same position it was left after the January 12, 2010 disaster.
There has been an outpouring of public and private aid into Haiti. Aid comes in the form of direct or indirect financial assistance and also private investment in various sectors of the Haitian reconstruction process. In the last year Special Envoy to Haiti and former United States President Bill Clinton, alongside personal aide Doug Band, has devoted his nongovernment organization the Clinton Global Initiative’s Haiti Action Network to Haitian reconstruction and rescue. Former President Clinton has uses the phrase, “Build Haiti back better”, to describe the goal of the spatial, economic, and social reconstruction processes going on. The Haiti Action Network is working to stimulate foreign private investment in Haiti, with particular attention to stimulating Haitian entrepreneurship and commerce. This is being done in a number of ways, for example Fonkoze a microfinance company has provided almost 80 no-interest loans to Haitian small business owners and entrepreneurs who were able to use the loans to make repairs to tools, work spaces, and inventory that was compromised in the earthquake. Fonkoze’s private sector investment in Haitian small business owners has created more than 600 jobs as a result of the no interest loans they provided.
Other initiatives incepted by the Haiti Action Network include collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Education to build a National Institute for Teacher Education and as well as an energy initiative which will provide 500,000 solar powered lights in an effort to off set the fact that most Haitians do not have regular access to electricity.
A project that has received a significant amount of international media attention is the reconstruction of Marché en Fer, the 19th century Iron Market located in downtown Port-Au-Prince. Historically Marché en Fer has been a significant cultural site attracting local artisans, farmers, and tourists who would come to the market to purchase hand crafted goods, produce, meats, dry goods, and textiles. Prior to the earthquake, Marché en Fer was in need of serious renovation and reconstruction, after the earthquake it was totally incapacitated. The reconstruction of Marché en Fer is being funded Denis O’Brien, the Irish billionaire and owner of Haiti’s largest digital communication company Digicel. O’Brien encourages private sector investment in the rebuilding of the Haitian economy and entrepreneurship.
One year ago the Caribbean island of Haiti was rocked by natural disaster. However, the particularly destructive way this environmental disaster affected the health and safety of Haitians, the island’s infrastructure, and political governing body works to unmask the fragile and shaky foundation of the country. The unity amongst the Haitian people, local and international agencies (i.e. President Clinton, Doug Band, and the CGI), and various world governments offers the hope that Haiti can be build back better.
Jack Lundee is the chief editor of Everything Left, and co-founder of Shades of Green. He’s an avid follower of all things left wing, green and progressive.