What Can an Equitable Recovery Look Like?
by The Opportunity Agenda, Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 12:25:57 PM EST
Recovery from a natural disaster should be able to make survivors “whole.” However, when the starting point is life in one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the Western hemisphere, getting back to normal becomes a trickier proposition. Haiti has the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the Western hemisphere. In 2003, 80% of the population was estimated to live under the international poverty line. As demonstrated by the extended recovery process from Hurricane Katrina, economic condition has a determinative effect on the ability to recover from a natural disaster, with the worst impact and least independent ability to recover suffered by the poorest residents.
Although this paints a bleak picture, and there’s no denying that the reality is grim, the only possibility for hope or optimism lies in a new roadmap for recovery. Any attempt to rebuild Haiti must be developed with an eye to erasing past inequities. It cannot be enough to rebuild the Haiti of January 11, 2010. Most Haitians lived by subsistence farming. With a lack of arable land, continuing deforestation, and destruction of much of the country’s infrastructure, Haiti’s economy must be rebuilt on a new basis. If the country must begin anew, the opportunity to develop something entirely new exists.
The lingering effects of colonialism, racism, and poverty must be eliminated as the country begins to map out its future. Internal and external factors that have perpetuated, and actually increased, the disintegration of Haiti – its infrastructure, its agriculture, and its people – must be left out of the country’s future. The color line of Haiti’s elites must go. An economy based on unsustainable agriculture must go. Governmental instability and corruption must go. Unacceptable mortality rates for infants, children under five, and women giving birth must go. All of which leaves room for a new, more equitable, more self-determined Haiti – with the help of all of us.
Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.