Haiti has suffered multiple disasters throughout its history, starting with a traumatic colonial period, and equally abusive post-colonial treatment. It should now be pretty clear that conventional efforts by foreign governments and NGOs, while helpful, will not be enough to solve the root problems.
Every disaster will get exponentially bigger because of compromised infrastructure, sub-standard housing and a virtually nonexistent safety net. The world should treat Haiti with urgency and as a preventable super-disaster. If we do not act now, and in unison, things will only get worse.
Many people around the world need urgent help, but Haiti is our close neighbor and currently in a region with no conflict.
After the critical period of early response and stabilization, all the major NGOs should come together with a coordinated five- or 10-year plan. Then they should build hurricane- and earthquake-proof schools, clinics and hospitals.
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Let’s engage Haitian women with micro-loans, teachers with micro-schools and doctors with micro-clinics. Let’s solve the critical energy problems that have led to nearly total deforestation.
As a professor, I interact with numerous Haitians who are willing and able to be part of this. They are ready.
Amir Abtahi, Boca Raton