Sara Miller Llana
Two years after a devastating earthquake in Haiti - an event some have dubbed the most complex humanitarian crisis of modern times - fresh signs of progress are offering hope. Two-thirds of displaced Haitians have been moved out of camps. More than half of some 10 million cubic meters of rubble strewn across Port-au-Prince has been cleared. Schools are being repaired and rebuilt. Some 430 kilometers (about 270 miles) of roadway have been constructed or rehabilitated.
But the sense lingers that a comprehensive, long-term plan is sorely missing – even with an investment of $2.38 billion to rebuild from a disaster that killed up to 300,000 people and left 1.5 million people homeless. Many say the “build back better” mantra championed by former President Bill Clinton is nowhere near reflective of today’s reality of an often-chaotic reconstruction process.
“There are some signs of achievement,” says Bernice Robertson, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Haiti. “But I think actions are a bit too scattered to give any confidence that ‘build back better’ is happening. People are out of camps, but questions remain: are they in safer, better houses, and safer, better communities? These are the questions that are coming up.”