Such is the shock at the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the US that it has gone largely unnoticed that long-suffering Haiti was hit very badly too.
Not only is Haiti’s death toll of 54 much higher given that only 10m people live in the impoverished Caribbean nation, but Sandy destroyed thousands of hectares of crops, making the import-dependent country even more reliant on expensive foreign food. Continue reading »
You could hardly argue that things have been going well lately for Haiti. Quite apart from being cruelly ravaged more than two years ago now by an earthquake from which it is still struggling to recover, more recently the Caribbean country’s president was struck down by a pulmonary embolism, while a rogue band of paramilitaries stormed parliament in his absence, and is still refusing to disband despite repeated demands from the government.
But there are one or two more positive developments. Continue reading »
It has now been two years since an earthquake tore apart Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, and it’s obvious that there’s widespread dissatisfaction at the excruciatingly slow progress of reconstruction.
But amid all the desperation, there have been some successes, in which the private sector has exercised an important role. Ideally, it would play a much bigger part. Continue reading »
Finally, Haiti’s long and drawn out presidential elections are over, and there is a winner: the flamboyant carnival singer Michel Martelly, self-styled “bad boy of kompa” (a kind of slowed down, Haitian version of merengue).
Whatever we may think of “Sweet Micky”, or “Tèt Kale” (bald head), as he is variously known, the arrival of a new government is a chance to usher in a new phase of the reconstruction process, with much of Port-au-Prince still lying in ruins after the earthquake struck well over a year ago. Continue reading »
The situation developing in Haiti does not look promising. With serious outbreaks of violence across the country in protest against “massive fraud” in the recent presidential elections, those that hoped the vote might produce the strong government that is so desperately needed to haul Haiti out of the ditch could be disappointed.
The multiple consequences of an unstable government that neither Haitians nor the international community regard as legitimate are almost too dismal to contemplate. But there is no question that the reconstruction process to which international donors have pledged to contribute almost $11bn will suffer. Continue reading »
It’s very hard to be upbeat about Haiti at the moment. Lurching from crisis to crisis, it is in the thick of a cholera epidemic, which the UN now thinks could affect double the amount of people – 400,000 – than it had previously thought. Worse, the outbreak could undermine elections this Sunday, and consequently the legitimacy of the resulting government, which is so crucial if the reconstruction process is to succeed.
But occasionally there are positive developments, however small. Continue reading »
After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January, people around the world whipped out their mobile phones to send millions of dollars in aid via text message to charities including the Red Cross. Now a new $10m fund aims to help Haitians use their own mobile phones to send, receive and store money – services known as “mobile money” or “mobile banking”.
The fund, a partnership between the Gates Foundation and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will award cash to companies that set up mobile banking services in Haiti. More than a third of the island nation’s banks, ATMs, and money transfer locations were destroyed in the quake, according to the Gates Foundation – and few Haitians had access to traditional banking in the first place. Continue reading »