Guest Blog by Lauren Smith.
The January 2010 earthquake left Haiti with 1.3 million homeless, 3,000 amputees (WHO estimate), over 220,000 people dead and the capital Port-au-Prince in ruins. What are the growing post-disaster challenges? What is being done to continue to rebuild and to recover Haiti?
The United States has identified agriculture, energy and health as top Haiti priorities. First, emergency response teams are focusing on agriculture as it relates to boosting crop production, investing in "high value" crops for export (see the Coca-Cola Company Haiti Hope Project), repairing irrigation systems and transferring good technologies. Second, renewable energy, a sustainable solution, brings light to a darkened Haiti and helps promote economic development. Lastly, focusing on public health can help to avoid future disasters. The monsoon season in Haiti is about to start. The rainy season increases the mosquito count, the spread of diseases like malaria and the need for immunizations. Each of the identified priorities are interconnected and each is a massive undertaking.
The global community has not stopped giving to Haiti. Nearly 10 Billion US dollars have been pledged to Haiti. This is a bigger amount than expected. The funds will help the nation to rebuild and recover over the next 10 years. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said "During the first six months, the focus will be on providing urgent humanitarian aid, opening health facilities and schools, and improving prevention and disaster management to prepare the country for the next hurricane cycle."