Today marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives. In the time that’s passed since the dramatic quake, Haitian recovery and rebuilding efforts have been slow in coming, often hampered by destructive flooding, followed by a tumultuous presidential election riddled with corruption and fraud, and a cholera outbreak that took additional lives.
President Obama took time to commemorate that fateful day last January that brought new international attention to the caribbean island, but he also acknowledged that there is still work to be done.
“Over the past year, countless lives have been saved and many Haitians affected by the earthquake now have better access to food, water and health care than they did before the disaster,” President Obama stated.
“Still, too much rubble continues to clog the streets, too many people are still living in tents, and for so many Haitians progress has not come fast enough. As we have said all along, helping the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere recover from one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike our hemisphere will take years, if not decades.”
Unfortunately, many have said openly that Haiti’s leadership is not yet equipped to take over the bulk of the responsibility for restoring the country. Indeed, by many accounts, several of those who were made homeless after the quake are in the same position as they were last year, and aid has been slow to get to those most in need. Reuters reported that despite billions of dollars of donations and aid pledges, and the fact that 12,000 United Nations peacekeeping forces remain in the country along with several thousand relief workers, there is still a lot of work to be done. The millions living in Tent cities and debris filled streets are a testament to that fact.
British-based charity firm Oxfam released a report stating that various projects had been crippled by lack of leadership and cooperation from the Haitian government and the international community.
“As Haitians prepare for the first anniversary of the earthquake, close to one million people are reportedly still displaced. Less than 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared, only 15 percent of the temporary housing that is needed has been built and relatively few permanent water and sanitation facilities have been constructed,” the report said. Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post shared this morning, “a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 60 major relief organizations echoed those sentiments, stating that although Americans alone donated more than $1.4 billion to the country, only 38 percent of that has actually been used to provide recovery aid.”