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Before the devastating earthquake of January 2010, Haiti was showing signs of dynamism. However, the pre-existing extreme levels of poverty and inequality exacerbated the devastation. Haiti’s reconstruction, if badly managed, will perpetuate the country’s inequality, benefiting the rich and creating new risk for the poor. If well managed, it really could help to build a better Haiti.
The goal of reconstruction now must be a genuinely more equitable Haiti, in which poverty and instability are reduced. The way to achieve that is through reconstruction led by Haiti’s government and other institutions, genuinely accountable to all Haitians. The international community, including the donors meeting in New York on 31 March to discuss Haiti’s reconstruction, must commit now to support that effort in the arduous years that lie ahead.
Oxfam’s 32 years of experience in Haiti, 60 years of experience in disasters, and discussions with its long-term partners in Haiti, suggest that the reconstruction effort needs to meet three vital conditions.
- Haiti’s government and other Haitian institutions must lead the reconstruction.
- As they do so, they must be genuinely accountable to all Haitians, including civil society.
- Every Haitian must be given the information they need to make informed decisions on their future.