Commentators quote the estimated 5 billion dollars donated to the country since the earthquake and wonder why the money hasn’t secured better results. Articles have also covered the spread of the cholera epidemic, brought to the island by UN troops, and the squalid tented living conditions in which more than 300,000 Haitians still live.
However, as the third anniversary of the disaster approaches, some journalists and commentators are turning their attention to the success stories. In The Guardian, for example, Prospery Raymond gives an overview of initiatives in Haiti which are a cause for hope. For example, investments in the private sector are beginning to create more jobs. And cash grants provided to local people through charitable organisations such as Christian Aid and its partners, are enabling people to start their own businesses. Farmers have also been receiving training, livestock and seeds, and even though hurricane Sandy destroyed over two-thirds of crops in the south last year, the food security situation is gradually improving.
Mr Raymond (who was himself pulled from the rubble) also writes of how dire the situation in Haiti would be now if there had been no international support over the last three years. Many Haitians owe their lives to the emergency food and medical aid which poured into the country. Nevertheless, he acknowledges all the work there is still to do if the country is to be rebuilt and problems with infrastructure, agriculture, energy, community services and the environment are to be resolved.
High levels of poverty also remain a huge burden on society. A recent article in The London Evening Standard looks at the high numbers of Haitian children being abandoned at orphanages, because parents aren’t able to cope. At one orphanage in the capital Port-au-Prince, the director says it’s common for jobless people to bring their children to be cared for. Around 5% of parents eventually return to collect their youngsters when their situation has improved. But many children are left for good and either remain at the orphanage until adulthood or are put up for adoption. The director tells the paper that sometimes she cries when people come to her for help, because being a parent herself, she understands “how awful it must be to give up your children”. But she says that until jobs and prosperity can be created in Haiti, cases of child abandonment will continue.
SOS Children in Haiti
Three years on from the earthquake, SOS Children continues to help vulnerable children in Haiti. Our work is focused on supporting local communities to become independent. Find out more.