May 13, 2010
about land, what else? Until the Haitian government makes deals with private landowners to free up space for evacuees, all the complaints about tents, proper housing and the coming rainy season won’t mean much. Consider: tent cities turn into long-term cities and folks riot if they think land’s being unfairly appropriated. This March article provides an excellent overview of the land issue and identifies key decision-makers. (that’s what journalism does that blog posts typically don’t)
One US think tank advises using food aid money to buy all of Haiti’s rice for the next two years:
International donors have committed $5.3 billion for the next 18 months, or $3.53 billion on an annual basis. The cost of buying Haiti’s rice crop is therefore only 1.8 to 2.3 percent of international aid funds.
And the Haitian government and diaspora could take some cues from the Liberian government, which is working hard at tapping its diaspora for development.
April 24, 2010
The little reported highlight of the March donor conference at the United Nations was the part about what Haitians in Haiti want. I checked. Media coverage focused on the billions donated, doubts about whether pledges will be kept and how to track all that money. Very little ink went into broadcasting what a sample of 1,750 Haitians told donors they want. And it wasn’t just dignity and respect.
I don’t mean to be flip but the few (seriously, like, three) articles which even mention former Haitian journalist and UN spokesperson Michele Montas’ presentation of survey results focused on airy-fairy demands for inclusion, dignity and respect. Why the basic prerequisites for healthy human existence is presented as news, I haven’t a clue. But while businessmen are understood to want tangibles like money, property and ownership the poor are frequently reported by others to want some existential reward–like they can eat inclusion, dignity and respect. The appropriate and more telling question, in keeping with a political and not philosophical discussion, is: what tangibles did the Haitian people demand?
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April 13, 2010
UN/DPI Photo by Eskinder Debebe
If you owned land would you want refugees living there? Rent-free? Indefinitely? Folks don’t even want their own family shacking up on their property much less strangers.
Land, was the answer that the aid worker who recently returned from Haiti gave when I asked him what was the most critical issue for Haiti in the next year. Want a home? Whose land are you going to use? Want a job? Whose land are you going to work on? Want a school? Whose land are you going to build on? Want a clinic? And so on.
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