Two years ago today, on January 12, 2010, the worst earthquake in 200 years – 7.0 in magnitude – struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0.
The quake killed more than 200,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.
Around the world, ordinary people and governments sought to help. So far, according to USA Today, these are the top givers:
* $3.3 billion – United States
* $940 million – Venezuela
* $634 million – European Commission
But What Is The Reality Of Life In Haiti Today?
It’s true that many nonprofits and other agencies have been on the ground, rebuilding, providing supplies, and helping to re-create the economy.
But meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in miserable conditions and nearly half of $4.5 billion pledged by governments for reconstruction has yet to be disbursed.
From USA Today:
“There’s been a remarkable lack of progress,” says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which has followed Haiti’s recovery.
As Haiti today observes the second anniversary of a disaster that leveled 300,000 buildings and left its economy and government in ruins, half a million people still live in tents, the United Nations reports.
Few have access to water, sanitation and other basic services, 60% are jobless and the world’s largest cholera outbreak has killed 7,000 people and infected 500,000 more, the U.N. and aid groups say.
Now, money is running short. “Funding is not coming in as before and that is becoming a challenge,” says Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Haiti representative.
The slow progress comes despite promises by the international community that the chronically poor nation with tremendous needs before the disaster would be rebuilt better than before. Since the earthquake, governments and international agencies have pledged $8.4 billion for humanitarian, recovery and development efforts ó $4.5 billion of it for rebuilding.
The U.S. has disbursed 85% of $1.45 billion pledged for humanitarian relief and pledged $1.8 billion for recovery and development, 37% of which has been disbursed, U.N. figures show. Weisbrot says governments did not pledge enough aid for reconstruction, estimated to cost more than $10 billion, and money that has been pledged isn’t being doled out fast enough.
But There Is Good News
Despite the slow pace, funds are slowly being allocated as efforts shift from short-term humanitarian needs to long-term reconstruction: creating more jobs by helping small businesses, removing debris, preparing the country for future disasters and helping the Haitian government become a functioning body.
To provide just one example, as first reported in USA Today, Beth Hogan, director of the Haiti Task Team for U.S. Agency for International Development says U.S. funds have provided temporary shelters for more than 300,000 families and created 17,000 jobs.
And here’s something you can do now.
Care2 has been working with nonprofit partner BRAC delivering signatures to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling on the U.N. to support programs to redevelop Haitiís environment.
Even before the devastating earthquake, millions in Haiti lived in poverty. BRAC is now working with families to provide them information about quality seeds, fertilizer and planting methods that will help them bring their families out of poverty. One pilot nursery is teaching children and adults how to plant and care for papaya, mango, and timber trees.
You can help reforest Haiti, by joining the 15,000 that have signed the petition and tell the U.N. that we need to bring more programs like this to the region.
And thank you.
Photo Credit: All Hands Volunteers