Viewpoint: After Hurricane Matthew, Will Aid Predators Ravage Haiti?
On Tuesday, Hurricane Matthew moved slowly through Haiti’s south-west armed with heavy rain and 145 miles per hour wind. Any country subjected to a category 4 hurricane would suffer great damage to its infrastructure. Haiti, however, experienced a catastrophe.
Because of that, you are certain to see more pictures of a devastated Haiti in the next few days. Yet westerners wanting to help shouldn’t assume that there are no resources available to Haitians in country. They may not be sufficient and may become depleted quickly, but there are resources. While charitable goods may provide temporary relief, they can hinder recovery in the long run to the extent that they can have a negative impact on the local economy.
A great problem in Haiti is a lack of investment – not humanitarian funds – and that is evident in the aftermath of Matthew. Neither Haitian authorities nor their international allies have invested much in response capacity. The international community’s lack of trust and confidence in Haitian authorities leads to reliance on international NGOs. This results in a piecemeal approach to addressing Haiti’s serious shortcomings.
The hurricane lifted off roofs and destroyed much of the housing stock in Les Cayes and Jérémie, the two major provincial capitals in the south-west. It washed out roads and destroyed bridges, halting regular commerce and travel. Authorities have reported that more than 100 people have lost their lives. Haitians expect the toll to be much higher. A slow, frustrating recovery process is certain to follow, hampered by outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Whether it will be successful is unclear.