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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Careful planning is needed for Haiti's re-development!

The earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this year was a dreadful catastrophe that shook the conscience of every human being with a heart that beats in their body.

The comments made by certain quarters of the American political community and the religious community at large, are unwarranted. It is unwarranted because the facts, as seen in the eyes of the persons who made them, are largely irrelevant to the issues at hand. Gratuitously cruel to some extent.

The major, current issues are in finding ways for aid to reach Haitians in Haiti on the ground as well as what Haiti needs, in the form of development, to ensure that a catastrophe like this is not repeated.

We can surmise that no one can predict an earthquake with any certainty, even though scientists are becoming more accurate with their information. However, Haiti won't miraculously move off of the plateau of the tectonic plates that caused the earthquake. Also, Haiti still would need strong infrastructure and strong human services, to be able to better handle a catastrophe, like an earthquake, if a natural disaster happens again.

In a nutshell, considering the earthquake as well as for the fact that Haiti is prone to hurricanes as well, Haiti needs to not only rebuild, but rebuild stronger, considering the unnecessary loss of life that occurred.

Stronger building codes and a disaster management plan, is an obvious must.

Resetting the government agenda is also vitally important, but also an obvious must.

In addition, another issue that has arisen, more strongly post quake, is debt relief for Haiti. This, in conjunction with the almost bound to happen cry for reparations from France, are issues that have their merit grounded in historical and redistributive fact and need.

However, the question one must ask is; would spending money, via debt relief and reparations to and through the government of Haiti be worth its effort? A government, which had its parliament collapse along with other government agencies, on top of the other issues as they relate to its fragile state before the quake (2008 mini-coup/riot that was quashed)? Would this really work towards a better long term solution to the social, economic and political situation in Haiti?

I have my doubts on the viability of those options at this time. Perhaps it may be something to consider in the future of Haiti.

However, what about the underlying issues that has prevented Haiti to move, in the past, towards building a stronger, more progressive society? A stronger, more progressive society, which would help to strengthen the people and the institutions of Haiti, in order for Haiti to sustain such a disaster- God forbid, but more than likely, would to happen again in light of the obvious realities.

Without going into a historical diatribe about the merits of any particular organisation, whether it was political or religious, the fact of the matter is, is that the distractions as it relates to the disruptions which were caused by political instability- even if we speak to the heart and the socio-economic fibre of Haiti when we mention the name, Duvalier, and the Voodoo belief system, which was seen to have propped up the dictator- is something that needs to sorted out, if Haiti must become progressive.

Conventional wisdom, which in this case I will indulge because many indicators have shown that belief in this particular, even if one considers it axiomatic, position, is relevant; is the issue of the Haitian civil society and their private sector and the fact that they have been virtually non-existent in the past, if not, moribund, to say the most about it.

Civil society organisations have been proven to anchor communities and, by effect, stabilise communities through their organised nature and their ability to negotiate with business and political directorates and lobby for sensitive, effective and meaningful socio-economic solutions to critical issues.

Fostering a sense of common values, commitment and investment interests in the Haitian society, must never be repressed, ignored or uncultivated in the new Haitian society.

Where people have interests and investments’, coalescing around shared values on where the country is headed and what is needed to maintain sustained, positive development- issues as they relate to human and structural development, will be a synergistic, progressive positive.

The private sector must be engaged most vigorously. For the fact that the minimum wage in Haiti, is, roughly, $5 USD- and we can imagine that most employers don't adhere to it- is one that cannot be ignored and issues as they relate to 1. Curbing oligopolistic and monopolistic activity, 2. Providing for sustainable local markets, 3. Ensuring fair value in and access to external markets and 3. Trade and development assistance from all the relevant partners and stakeholders in the global community, is a large task but must be essential for a new Haitian, country wide progressive model.

Creating wealth in Haiti is an obvious task that must be addressed and attacked with full commitment from the Haitian government and their international partners.

The concerns as the relate to officials taking a mechanistic approach to the matter, is something that the Haitian government, non-governmental organisations and technical expertise from the development community- bearing in mind the daunting task of country wide buy in and creating economic synergies that are self sustaining- must take in hand from a prejudiced standpoint of the status quo and assist their weaker partners, in that the civil society organisations.

Certainly, there are enough 'what to do's' to go about. This author is not void of any. However, what Haiti and its partners in assistance needs now is to identify which 'what to do' to target and work at it. The second hardest part is 'how to do' as well as measuring the success of the 'what to do' as it would be and is impacted by the 'how did'? This is obviously after immediate reconstruction and investment for that reconstruction.

Partners from around the globe must converge on Haiti and assist the society at large with whatever decisions are made. This includes not just assistance with debt relief- if that be the case- or development through trade or just supporting NGO's stationed in Haiti.

But, assist Haiti with the technical expertise to build a better nation, from the inside out.
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