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Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Haiti

Household Development Agents – Haiti

Personal coaches help Haitian families try to get out of poverty, By David Brown, August 29, 2012, Washington Post: “The people who live in this part of Haiti’s Central Plateau need more of pretty much everything that makes life safe, comfortable and predictable. Three-quarters of families do not have enough food and two-thirds do not have access to clean water. Thirty percent of households are headed by women, and 40 percent of children are not in school. One in four children is unvaccinated, and half are underweight. About 80 percent of houses do not have latrines, and 60 percent of farmers do not own the land they cultivate, according to a survey of 5,200 families in the commune, or county, of Boucan Carre…”

Mobile Banking – Haiti

How Haiti is fighting poverty by killing cash, By Margo Conner, January 27, 2012, Christian Science Monitor: “In Haiti, cash is escaping from wallets and savings accounts are breaking free from brick-and-mortar banks. Two years after 2010’s devastating earthquake, mobile money has taken off in the island nation. While the country has seen setbacks in many areas and continues to struggle, one bright spot is the transformation of the country’s traditional banking sector. Physical banks were wiped away by the quake and subsequent hurricane, and a mobile banking network that uses cell phones has grown up in their place…”

Nongovernmental Organizations in Haiti

NGOs in Haiti face new questions about effectiveness, By William Booth, February 1, 2011, Washington Post: “In the days after the earth shook and the government collapsed, the municipal nursing home here became one of the most desperate sights in Haiti, as old people lay swaddled in dirty sheets, huddled in cramped tents, begging visitors for water. But little by little, order was restored. A humanitarian aid group called HelpAge International arrived at the nursing home. They paid salaries for security guards, health-care workers and cooks. The last building left standing was patched, and the elderly residents no longer were bathed with buckets in the yard. But six months later, HelpAge abandoned the project after it failed to negotiate a new agreement with city hall. The group Project Concern International, which was operating a clinic on the grounds of the nursing home, also closed down after the mayor asked for rent. The travails at the municipal nursing home illustrate both the promise and the perils of the unprecedented humanitarian aid response in Haiti…”

Post-Earthquake Haiti

After massive aid, Haitians feel stuck in poverty, By William Booth, January 11, 2011, Washington Post: “One of the largest and most costly humanitarian aid efforts in history saved many lives in the aftermath of last January’s earthquake but has done little to ease the suffering of ordinary Haitians since then. As U.S. officials, donor nations and international aid contractors applaud their efforts – all the latrines, tents and immunizations – the recipients of this unprecedented assistance are weary at the lack of visible progress and doubtful that the billions of dollars promised will make their lives better…”

Post-Earthquake Rebuilding – Haiti

Funding delays, housing complexities slow Haiti rebuilding effort, By William Booth and Mary Beth Sheridan, November 25, 2010, Washington Post: “Yolette Pierre says thank you, America. She points to the plastic over her head, to a gray sack on the dirt floor, to a bucket in the corner. Thank you for the tarp. Thank you for the rice. Thank you for the water, too. She is as sincere as she is poor. The $3.5 billion in international relief spent after the worst natural disaster in a generation succeeded in its main mission. ‘We kept Haitians alive,’ said Nigel Fisher, chief of the U.N. humanitarian mission. Now the really hard part begins. To weary Haitians such as Pierre, mired in a fetid camp, hoping to sweep away the tons of earthquake rubble and remake broken lives, the wait for $6 billion in rebuilding money promised in March by the United States and other donor nations is more than frustrating. It is almost cruel. Ten months after the earthquake left more than a million people homeless, only a small fraction of that recovery money has been put into projects that Haitians can see…”

Haiti Cholera Outbreak

  • Cholera reported in several areas in Haiti, By Donald G. McNeil Jr., October 22, 2010, New York Times: “A cholera outbreak in a rural area of northwestern Haiti has killed more than 150 people and overwhelmed local hospitals with thousands of the sick, the World Health Organization said Friday, increasing long-held fears of an epidemic that could spread to the encampments that shelter more than a million of Haitians displaced by the January earthquake. Even as relief organizations rushed doctors and clean-water equipment toward the epicenter – the Artibonite, a riverine rice-producing area about three hours north of the capital, Port-au-Prince – Haitian radio reported that cholera cases had surfaced in two other areas: the island of La Gonâve, and the town of Arcahaie, which lies closer to the capital. In addition, a California-based aid group, International Medical Corps, said they had confirmed cases in Croix-des-Bouquet…”
  • Haiti’s first cholera epidemic in a century kills scores, By Rory Carroll, October 22, 2010, The Guardian: “Haiti’s first cholera epidemic in a century has swept a region north of the capital Port-au-Prince, killing dozens and overwhelming health services. At least 142 people have died and more than 1,500 were stricken by diarrhoea, fever and vomiting in the worst public health crisis since the January earthquake. Authorities and aid agencies scrambled to contain the outbreak in the largely rural Artibonite region before it reached tent cities housing vulnerable quake survivors…”

US Rebuilding Aid for Haiti

Haiti still waiting for pledged US aid, By Jonathan M. Katz and Martha Mendoza (AP), September 29, 2010, National Public Radio: “Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble. One reason: Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived. The money was pledged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in March for use this year in rebuilding. The U.S. has already spent more than $1.1 billion on post-quake relief, but without long-term funds, the reconstruction of the wrecked capital cannot begin. With just a week to go before fiscal 2010 ends, the money is still tied up in Washington. At fault: bureaucracy, disorganization and a lack of urgency, The Associated Press learned in interviews with officials in the State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the White House and the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy. One senator has held up a key authorization bill because of a $5 million provision he says will be wasteful. Meanwhile, deaths in Port-au-Prince are mounting, as quake survivors scramble to live without shelter or food…”

Haiti Earthquake and the Displaced

In Haiti, the displaced are left clinging to the edge, By Deborah Sontag, July 10, 2010, New York Times: “Hundreds of displaced families live perilously in a single file of flimsy shanties planted along the median strip of a heavily congested coastal road here called the Route des Rails. Vehicles rumble by day and night, blaring horns, kicking up dust and belching exhaust. Residents try to protect themselves by positioning tires as bumpers in front of their shacks but cars still hit, injure and sometimes kill them. Rarely does anybody stop to offer help, and Judith Guillaume, 23, often wonders why. ‘Don’t they have a heart, or a suggestion?’ asked Ms. Guillaume, who covers her children’s noses with her floral skirt when the diesel fumes get especially strong. Six months after the earthquake that brought aid and attention here from around the world, the median-strip camp blends into the often numbing wretchedness of the post-disaster landscape. Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains a tableau of life in the ruins. The tableau does contain a spectrum of circumstances: precarious, neglected encampments; planned tent cities with latrines, showers and clinics; debris-strewn neighborhoods where residents have returned to both intact and condemnable houses; and, here and there, gleaming new shelters or bulldozed territory for a city of the future…”

Post-Earthquake Haiti

  • Rebuilding Haiti, By Kenneth Kidd, March 28, 2010, Toronto Star: “The rows of mounded, soggy earth stand nearly a metre tall, all of them fashioned by hand and hoe. By one row, his knee braced against the side, a farm worker is plunging long green shoots into the soil, sweet potatoes in the making. He’ll toil like this for six days a week, six hours per, and take home the equivalent of roughly $14 (U.S.). Next week, or maybe the week after, he’ll tend to his own little plots of land, his other role in the complicated agricultural system that reigns in the Artibonite region, about halfway between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien to the north. The Artibonite is laced with winding rivers and irrigation canals, like strands of leftover spagetti on a dinner plate. Sweet potatoes, bananas, mangoes, rice and corn all flourish, the rich soil yielding three full crops annually. But apart from a few mangoes, scarcely any of this horticultural largesse makes its way south along Rue nationale #1 to Port-au-Prince – a three-hour journey over a dusty, heavily potholed road whose hazards sometimes reduce speeds to 10 km/h. After such a trip, most Artibonite produce simply can’t compete with crops grown closer to the capital in poorer soil, much less against imported, subsidized food from the United States…”
  • Quake accentuated chasm that has defined Haiti, By Simon Romero, March 27, 2010, New York Times: “The lights of the casino above this wrecked city beckoned as gamblers in freshly pressed clothes streamed to the roulette table and slot machines. In a restaurant nearby, diners quaffed Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne and ate New Zealand lamb chops at prices rivaling those in Manhattan. A few yards away, hundreds of families displaced by the earthquake languished under tents and tarps, bathing themselves from buckets and relieving themselves in the street as barefoot children frolicked on pavement strewn with garbage. This is the Pétionville district of Port-au-Prince, a hillside bastion of Haiti’s well-heeled where a mangled sense of normalcy has taken hold after the earthquake in January. Business is bustling at the lavish boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs that have reopened in the breezy hills above the capital, while thousands of homeless and hungry people camp in the streets around them, sometimes literally on their doorstep…”

Displaced Earthquake Victims – Haiti

  • Rural Haiti struggles to absorb displaced, By Deborah Sontag, March 16, 2010, New York Times: “Before the earthquake that changed everything, Chlotilde Pelteau and her husband lived a supremely urban existence. A cosmetics vendor and a mechanic, they both enjoyed a steady clientele and a hectic daily routine, serenaded by the beeping cars and general hubbub of Port-au-Prince. Now, as roosters crow and goats bleat, Ms. Pelteau, 29, toils by day on a craggy hillside in the isolated hamlet of Nan Roc (In the Rocks), which she had abandoned at 14 for a life of greater opportunity. At night, she, her husband and their two children sleep cheek-to-jowl with a dozen relatives in the small mud house where she grew up. ‘With everything destroyed, what could I do but come back?’ said Ms. Pelteau, wearing a floral skirt as she poked corn seeds deep into arid soil unlikely to yield enough food to sustain her rail-thin parents, much less those who fled the shattered capital city to rejoin them…”
  • Haitians who fled capital strain impoverished towns in countryside, By William Booth, March 15, 2010, Washington Post: “The earthquake that struck Haiti’s capital city has also jarred the impoverished countryside, sending 600,000 people into the provinces — where locals are now overwhelmed with the task of feeding and sheltering desperate newcomers. Haitian and international aid officials describe the migration as one of the largest and most wrenching in the hemisphere, as internally displaced people stream out of Port-au-Prince and head to struggling provincial towns in the aftermath of the earthquake like civilians fleeing war zones in places such as Rwanda, Kosovo and the Swat Valley in Pakistan. ‘They are everywhere. They are in the town, and they are sleeping in the fields,’ said Gerald Joseph, mayor of Lascahobas, a farming and trading town about three hours north of the capital. ‘Our schools are beyond full now. Our hospital is full. All our houses are full of people. We don’t have an empty house. Where four people were sleeping before, there are now 14…'”

Haiti Earthquake and the Poor Elderly

Weeks after quake, Haiti’s elderly hobble through chaos, By William Booth, March 12, 2010, Washington Post: “It was always hard to be old in Haiti, but after the earthquake, to be old and poor feels like a curse, say those who are both. ‘We struggle to maintain a little dignity, but look at us,’ said Lauranise Gedeon, who sat, embarrassed, in soiled sheets in the ruins of a municipal nursing home here in the capital. Residents were bathed outdoors with a bucket, trying to cover their nakedness. They spent the long, hot afternoons in hospital beds lined up side by side, six to a tent, fanning themselves with pieces of cardboard. They begged for water to drink. ‘No water today. We are waiting. We are waiting for medicines, for the doctors, for God to help us,’ said nurse Yolette François. ‘I am serious. These old people have a lot of troubles.’ Her patients, about 80 men and women, were scooping rice and beans from dented metal bowls. Asked what they need most, one resident said, ‘Something for the flies.’ Another complained that her spoon had been stolen and held up her fingers, sticky with food. ‘Look!…'”

Temporary Housing in Haiti

Rebuilding effort in Haiti turns away from tents, By Damien Cave, February 3, 2010, New York Times: “Shifting tactics in the race to shelter an estimated one million Haitians displaced by the earthquake, aid groups on Wednesday began to de-emphasize tents in favor of do-it-yourself housing with tarpaulins at first, followed by lumber. Mark Turner, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said that a move toward ‘transitional shelters’ – built eventually with lumber and some steel – would give people sturdier structures and more flexibility. ‘Tents really have a shelf life of not much more than six months,’ Mr. Turner said. In contrast, he added: ‘You can stand up in a shelter that you build. You can start a business there.’ Officials from the migration agency said they were hoping to give people the means to create temporary housing, and the power to build where they wanted. They acknowledged that it could be five years before most people moved back into houses, which means that under the current best-case situation, Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, will soon be blanketed with hundreds of thousands of simple structures that designers describe as ‘garden sheds’ and others see as shanties…”

Haiti Earthquake

  • Haiti to relocate 400,000 homeless outside capital, January 22, 2010, BBC News: “Haiti is planning to house 400,000 earthquake survivors in new tented villages outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, officials have announced. Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said 100,000 people would initially be sent to 10 settlements near the suburb of Croix Des Bouquets. He gave no timeframe, but said the moves would start as soon as possible. An estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which killed as many as 200,000…”
  • Haiti plans tent cities for homeless as rebuilding begins, By Scott Wilson, Mary Beth Sheridan and Manuel Roig-Franzia, January 22, 2010, Washington Post: “The Haitian government is planning to erect 11 tent cities to house as many as 400,000 people displaced by the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, hoping to establish safer and more sanitary conditions as the country’s rebuilding begins. Most of the camps will be in and around the capital, officials said, replacing more than 500 squalid, makeshift settlements that have materialized out of desperation and despair. The plan, which is being coordinated with international relief officials, also calls for a camp to house 100,000 Haitians in the town of Croix de Bouquets, about eight miles northeast of the capital…”
  • Economy in shock struggles to restart, By Simon Romero, January 21, 2010, New York Times: “The price of candles in the teeming La Saline market here has climbed 60 percent since last week’s earthquake. A box of matches is up 50 percent. A package of Perdue Chicken Franks has gone up 30 percent. As Haitians begin to turn their attention to rebuilding a crippled economy, the rapid surge in prices of crucial products is just one of the many challenges they face. The port here was also knocked out of operation, hobbling exports. The banking system, largely shut down because of fear of robberies, is struggling to restart. The earthquake destroyed the finance ministry and part of the central bank, and killed senior financial officials including Jean Frantz Richard, director of the tax collection agency…”

Haiti Earthquake

  • Poverty opened eyes of Haiti visitors, By Annysa Johnson, January 14, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Scott Hamel tries to describe the poverty that plagued Haiti even before Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, he always goes back to a young mother he met there a few years ago. She was living with her six children, two under the age of 1, in a hut the size of a walk-in closet. Her husband had gone to the Dominican Republic for work, and she had not heard from him in more than a year. She had no other family and was on the verge of being evicted. ‘Basically, she had the clothes on her back, no income and no way to feed her children,’ said Hamel of Madison, who has traveled to Haiti repeatedly as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Engineers Without Borders. ‘It was staggering to see this woman in her 30s who had nothing,’ he said. ‘It took me awhile to get my head around that.’ Nearly every story coming out of Haiti since the quake mentions its status as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. It is one thing to read about it, but many Wisconsinites have seen it firsthand, working alongside Haitians in health clinics, food kitchens, construction projects and more…”
  • Impoverished, storm-prone Haiti is a magnet for disasters, By Seth Borenstein (AP), January 14, 2010, Worcerter Telegram and Gazette: “When it comes to natural disasters, Haiti seems to have a bull’s-eye on it. That’s because of a killer combination of geography, poverty, social problems, slipshod building standards and bad luck, experts say. The list of catastrophes is mind-numbing: This week’s devastating earthquake. Four tropical storms or hurricanes that killed about 800 people in 2008. Killer storms in 2005 and 2004. Floods in 2007, 2006, 2003 (twice) and 2002. And that’s just the 21st-century rundown. ‘If you want to put the worst-case scenario together in the Western Hemisphere (for disasters), it’s Haiti,’ said Richard Olson, a professor at Florida International University who directs the Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas project. ‘There’s a whole bunch of things working against Haiti. One is the hurricane track. The second is tectonics. Then you have the environmental degradation and the poverty,’ he said…”
  • Haiti, Editorial, January 14, 2010, New York Times: “Once again, the world weeps with Haiti. The earthquake that struck on Tuesday did damage on a scale that scarcely could have been imagined had we all not seen the photos and videos and read the survivors’ agonizing accounts – of the sudden crumbling of mountainside slums, schools, hospitals, even the Parliament building and presidential palace. Whenever disaster strikes, we are reminded that Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. And each time there is a disaster, this country and others help – for a while. This time must be different…”
  • Helping Haiti help itself, Editorial, January 14, 2010, Los Angeles Times: “Haitians have long been prey to hurricanes and coups, their nation ravaged by erosion and corruption, mudslides and marauders, poverty and violence. Now the few economic and political gains made over five years of relative stability have been buried along with thousands of corpses in the rubble of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The presidential palace, parliament, government ministries and hospitals — indeed most of the capital of Port-au-Prince — are in ruins. An already dysfunctional state now lacks even the edifices of government. Gone too are some of the buttresses: the archbishop and his cathedral; the head of the United Nations mission and some of his top aides, who died when their headquarters collapsed…”