Haiti – The Slow Road to Reconstruction

Two years after the earthquake

Publication date: 10 January 2012
Author: Marc J. Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Humanitarian Policy, Oxfam America

After two years Haitians continue to grapple with the effects of the devastating earthquake that killed more than two hundred thousand people and rendered more than one million of them homeless. The future of Haiti hangs in the balance, with the road to reconstruction proving to be a slow and arduous one. While billions of dollars of aid have been pledged, only half of the funds have been disbursed.

This briefing note reports on the status of the reconstruction effort and the continued challenges in shelter, education and health facing the island nation. Haiti has been plagued by institutional weaknesses, political instability, and economic insecurity for decades, which the earthquake only served to exacerbate with devastating consequences.

Key recommendations

  • Create a national development authority to replace the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.
  • Focus on decentralization of authority in the reconstruction planning to mitigate the extreme urban/rural inequalities.
  • Devise a comprehensive resettlement policy, with a clear timeline and budget, including new public housing, return to safe existing structures, and a transparent mechanism to swiftly resolve land tenure issues;
  • Align assistance with government plans and policies.