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Haiti remains blighted by past so-called assistance to the ravaged nation

Haiti has been hit yet again.   This time, it has been a cyclone, which has killed at least 900 people.   However, a legacy of simply poor and downright "bad" aid in the past, continues as a legacy for and to the country to this day.

"The storm sent 145-miles-per-hour winds through the nation's villages, ripping roofs off of houses and whipping up floods and mudslides. In addition to the immediate damage, the hurricane is expected to exacerbate existing, long-standing problems in Haiti, from a pending outbreak of cholera—introduced to the country by United Nations peacekeepers in 2010—to the widespread destruction of infrastructure.

 As the New York Times elaborates:

This latest disaster revives unresolved questions that continue to haunt the country from the 2010 earthquake, when international aid groups practically usurped the role of the government.

The government has been clear that this time around it will take the lead on coordinating aid, as donors bring in fresh water, food and money. Yet that approach, too, has its limitations.

The current government is an interim administration that was to be replaced in the Sunday election. There is no word on when that vote will be rescheduled.

For international aid organizations, striking a balance between working with the government and delivering lifesaving assistance expeditiously will define the coming months of the crisis, many say.

In a column for the Guardian, Jocelyn McCalla, executive director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), further explains aid groups' predatory legacy in Haiti—and how the hurricane could present new opportunities for them to take advantage of a country in need—writing, "Westerners looking on the island with concern should know: what we need most for long-term growth is investment, not charity."

McCalla continues:

[T]he Haiti Reconstruction Fund—a fund established in 2010 and managed by the World Bank on behalf of various donor countries—disbursed this year through 30 June just $16.7m out of a total of $351m for disaster relief purposes. One of the reasons why only a tiny fraction of that money has been used is that most of the money is meant to be used for earthquake reconstruction.

Relief aid should be empowering. It should be delivered quickly to meet urgent needs, not be used as a permanent channel for relieving normal stress and pain associated with development woes. In times of tragedy, it is important to distinguish between the do-gooders and the predators. It is quite easy for predators to have the upper hand when they can cast themselves as valuable intermediaries."



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