Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 17 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Haiti: Let the Pontificating Begin

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Stanley Lucas

Reconstruction plans for Haiti proliferate, but who decides which plan goes forward?

The Haitian people still do not have tents to live in or regular access to drinking water and food, but attentions have shifted to reconstruction. There are now as many reconstruction plans as there are aid organizations. Everyone who has even had tangential exposure to Haiti has put forth an opinion on how it should be rebuilt. Bill Clinton has a plan and the funds to implement it developed by pre-eminent poverty experts, including Paul Farmer, Jeffrey Sachs and others. The US State Department has put together several rebuilding scenarios and shared them with the Haitian Government. The French have a plan. The Canadians have a plan. The Haitian Diaspora are developing a plan. The World Bank, IMF and UN have plans. Economists are writing op-eds about what the plan should and should not include. Conferences and seminars are being convened to discuss myriad plans. Prominent development experts are advocating for a Marshall Plan and other are pointing out why that will not work. In short, there is a proliferation of pontification. Surely, there will be many areas of accord and many areas of discord. However, no one has addressed the central question the elephant in the room namely, who will decide which plan will go forward?

In most countries, the government would have the authority to set forth the national priorities and then develop, organize, oversee, and implement the plan to achieve those priorities. In Haiti, however, the government is not in the position to develop a plan or manage reconstruction on its own for three main reasons:


First, the international community has completely lost confidence in the Haitian government. While most actors are likely willing to work with the government, they do not trust the current regime, which has come under so much fire for corruption, to undertake such a massive humanitarian effort. As evidence of this lack of confidence, currently, only one cent of every aid dollar flowing into Haiti is under the control of the Haitian government. This is a clear vote of no confidence.

Second, the government lacks the capacity to develop, vet or implement a massive reconstruction plan. They simply do not have the bandwidth. Only three of the 18 Cabinet ministers are competent and qualified for their job. The Prime Minister is extremely qualified, but the President has been implicated in numerous corruption scandals and is completely beholden to the business cartel, the Groupe de Bourdon. Furthermore, more than 10% of Haiti's civil service was lost in the earthquake.

And third, the Preval Administration is facing the very real possibility that simmering frustration as a result of their inability to get basic necessities to the victims will come to a full boil, and people will riot in the streets demanding a change in government. Hopefully, this type of political instability can be avoided because Haiti is in no position to be able to absorb this stress to the system.

The ineptitude of the Haitian government, however, should not be viewed as an open path for international actors to take matters into their own hands; Haitian national sovereignty must be respected. Furthermore, such an uncoordinated approach to developing a reconstruction plan is inefficient, prone to waste, and worse, could result in divisive turf battles. In short, this uncoordinated approach can only lead to chaos. We have already witnessed such chaos with the distribution of aid to the victims. Without central coordination in the aid and recovery efforts, interagency turf battles sometimes crept into the aid distribution on the ground resulting in significant and sometimes life threatening delays. That said, the international community has obviously shown a tremendous outpouring of support in the wake of this tragedy, and the Haitian people look upon their efforts with gratitude. It should be noted that everyone on the ground is working against tremendous obstacles and in the worst conditions. However, the fact is that people are still having trouble accessing basic necessities a month and a half after the quake despite the $1 billion and counting that have been donated to recovery. This approach simply does not work.

In light of these dynamics, some observers have advocated that the UN or an international reconstruction authority take over the management of the country. The absence of Haitian input in most of the proposed reconstruction plans seems to indicate that this is a very real possibility. Recent press articles have highlighted the exclusion of Haitians both Diaspora and Haitians organizations in-country and the limited role of the Haitian government in the preparatory meetings for the March 31 donors conference in New York. But the lack of Haitian input in these plans only undermines Haiti when it is most vulnerable, and puts the country on a continued path of failure. The international community is not equipped to develop or manage a reconstruction plan without Haitian guidance, support and most importantly, buy-in.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Stanley Lucas Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Stanley Lucas is a specialist in political development projects. He has worked as a Senior Program Officer in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Lucas is currently the Executive Director for for the Washington Democracy (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Sestak Case: Foreshadowing Clinton's Influence on Haitian Elections?

Duvalier Returns to Haiti; Merely a Pawn in the Political Chaos

Haiti interim reconstruction commission: Haitian members express outrage with foreign counterparts.

Stanley Lucas: Response to Calls for UN to Govern Haiti

Haiti: Let the Pontificating Begin

Response to Senator Dodd: The Haitian People Deserve Sovereignty

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend