Plus ça change – the Republic of NGOs, but which ones? (HB65)


Rescued Yes, Recovery No, Redevelopment: by whom, for whom?

First the good news. To date there has been no second disaster in Haiti, in the form of epidemics, famine or tropical storm damage in the wake of the most deadly earthquake this century.

Second, the bad news. It could still happen.

If a Katrina-force hurricane tracks a path across central Haiti before the end of the storm season in November there will be thousands more deaths. And this time there will be massive protests and maybe more than that.

Tempers are fraying. Graffiti is everywhere. Some is overtly political such as Aba Préval! [Down with Préval!]. But the equally ubiquitous Nou Bouke! [We’ve had enough!] probably more accurately captures the general public mood.

Everyone agrees on the problems. Explanations vary as to why a humanitarian relief juggernaut that has averted another disaster is stalled at the junction leading to recovery. Visibly, very little has changed since 12 January. Rubble removal is sporadic and low-tech. By mid-July just 3,722 ‘transitional’, hurricane-proof shelters had been completed. With each designed to accommodate a family of five, that’s about 18,610 displaced Haitians. By any measure, there’s a long way to go. State v NGOs: Power and Glory Many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) at the sharp end of providing water, food, shelter and medical care blame the Haitian government for indecision, failure to evoke eminent domain laws to expropriate land for new camps, a lack of strategic planning. The government has frequently pointed the finger back at the NGOs. They have the money, capacity and personnel that it does not, it claims.

Simmering tensions between the two have become more public since June. In this, as in almost every other aspect of public life in Haiti, what were fissures before the earthquake h