Talks on Haiti in London


Talks on Haiti in London

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti, killing as many as 316,000 people. At its peak, 1.5 million internally-displaced persons (IDPs) lived in 1300 camps across the country. In October 2010, the situation of IDPs deteriorated even further when an outbreak of cholera struck Haiti, the first in the country in over a century, killing over 4,000 people by January 2011; currently over 8,000 people have died from cholera.

Through direct observation, interview, and survey data collected in Haiti since the earthquake, Mark Schuller, Assistant Professor in Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie abnd l’Université d’État d’Haïti will be in London this week to give a paper on the provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in IDP camps.

Mark will discuss several theoretical and policy explanations for this low level of services, despite the efforts and good intentions of many humanitarian actors, concluding with a series of recommendations to improve disaster response and coordination. Patterns in WASH services in IDP camps distill lessons about coordination and about proper roles for public and private actors following disasters. A Haitian proverb explains, kabrit ki gen twòp mèt mouri nan solèy. Literally translated, this means, “The goat with too many caretakers dies in the sun.” With too many helpers, no one takes responsibility for the goat, ensuring it has food and water. In the social science literature on disasters, this is known as the “bystander effect.” This proverb offers a useful mechanism to examine the strengths, limitations, and supporting policy environment of the humanitarian response to cholera in post-earthquake Haiti.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and others, Schuller’s research on globalization, NGOs, gender, and disasters in Haiti has been published in two dozen book chapters and peer-reviewed articles as well as public media, including a column in the Huffington Post. He is the author of Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs (2012) and co-editor of three volumes, including Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake (2012). He is co-director / co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). Schuller is co-editor of Berghahn Books’ Catastrophes in Context: a Series in Engaged Social Science on Disasters, board chair of the Lambi Fund of Haiti, and active in several solidarity efforts.

Here is some more information on the events:

Monday, January 20 – 5 p.m. – Royal Holloway – “Pa Manyen Fanm Nan Konsa: Aid and Gender Based Violence in Haiti’s IDP Camps

Tuesday, January 21 – 12:45 – School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – “Kabrit Ki Gen Twòp Mèt: Explaining Gaps in WASH coverage in Haiti’s IDP Camps” More info here.

Tuesday, January 21 – 6 p.m. – LSE – “Displaced Cultures: Humanitarian Ruptures in Post-Quake Port-au-Prince, Haiti

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