Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 in Haiti; disasters strike fast but help arrives slowly

Throughout the year 2010, the happenings in Haiti has dominated the posts on this blog. What has happened in the little country has really touched our heart, so we have focused much of our posts on it.

To sum up what has happened to the country and really most disasters in the world, the disasters have been quick, but the response has been slow. The rubble is beginning to be cleared from Haiti's streets, but the process has been slow. The cholera is spreading across the country quickly but there are still no vaccines for the people.

NPR conducted this interview over the weekend with their correspondent who has been in the country all along. Jason Beaubien gives us some analysis on the slow moving recovery efforts.

HANSEN: Jason Beaubien, have the U.S. and the international community been able to live up to their promises of financial aid and assistance?

BEAUBIEN: Certainly in Haiti there's a great sense of frustration that things are moving slowly. More than $10 billion was pledged from the international community. Less than a billion of that has actually come into the country over the last year. There's very much a risk that after this anniversary, Haiti could completely fall off the radar of the international community. And there's no way that Haiti's going to rebuild without that assistance from the international community.

They're not in a position to do it on their own and certainly there's going to be other disasters, other things that are going to pop up. And I think in Haiti there's very much a sense that the pace this last year was so slow that if that continues that Haiti could be stuck in this limbo waiting for this international aid to come at a time when there really isn't that much pressure for that to happen.

HANSEN: Again, billions of dollars were pledged to help. Money has come in. Who administers the money that comes in? I mean, the Haitian government is barely functional.

BEAUBIEN: There is a large consortium. It's called the Interim Haitian Reconstruction Commission. It's being headed by former President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Bellerive. They are administering billions of this money. They are overseeing sort of the biggest chunk. A lot of it is also in the hands of individual non-governmental organizations, aid groups.

HANSEN: The earthquake basically left whatever medical care there was in Haiti in ruins. A lot of people weren't treated for the injuries related to the quake. Then the cholera outbreak hit. I mean, what is the state of medical care in Haiti today?

BEAUBIEN: It's actually kind of strange. Medical care is actually better in Haiti now than it was before the quake. The number of international health care organizations that have come in - Doctors Without Borders and many others - are providing health care for free to the population at a level that they never were getting before the quake. So, that's sort of a perverse consequence of this.

At the same time, the cholera outbreak has put huge new strains on that system. This strain of cholera, this strain can kill people in a matter of hours. And so, now there's this need to have specialized cholera treatment facilities just about everywhere so that people, within a matter of hours, can get them. So, it's sort of a win on one hand and a loss on the other.

HANSEN: Has the cholera outbreak been curbed?

BEAUBIEN: No, and the problem is that it's clear that in a place like Haiti where the sanitation facilities are at times nonexistent, where getting clean water is one of the daily challenges that people face, that they're not going to be able to completely contain cholera and wipe it out. It's going to be in the country for years to come, people are saying.

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