The Groupe URD Review

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Reaching Resilience
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Haiti: daring to choose the future
Bernard Husson

 

The present situation should also lead to the rethinking of regional planning so that state infrastructure and services are more equitably distributed throughout the country. Though the capital needs to be rebuilt, some resources should be directed towards the regions. Already in 2007, in an interview given to the Le Matin newspaper, Talégrand Noël said, "We can not think of the country’s future purely in terms of Port-au-Prince". This is even truer today. The quantity and quality of services available in the regions needs to be improved, new activities need to be created and funding systems to help the creation of small businesses need to be set up. Commercial and distribution networks need to be supported so that producers can sell their merchandise. Training needs to be provided at all levels in the different regions of the country to consolidate local dynamics and improve skills.

It is also important, from this point of view, to encourage exchange and debate between the country’s social forces. If the Haitian people participate in the Promethean task of reconstruction, this will contribute to its success. At the national level, this could, for example, take the form of a “National conference” to define the priorities for the reconstruction and how it will be carried out and make sure that actions for the regions are included. At the local level, consultation should allow local development plans to be decided and monitored

Experience in other countries shows that if you do not use part of the aid to strengthen social organisations and support local development, the same blocked situations which existed before the disaster will return. Haiti could be a counter-example to show how a country can boldly shape its future despite what it has suffered, by using its internal dynamism and rising above the idea of implementing democracy from the top, which external interventions tend to impose. Without a doubt, the country’s reconstruction must include consultation of the people, something they have been denied for so long. If this does not happen, Haiti will struggle to overcome its human and natural ills. The international aid sector must not forget this dimension in the assistance that it provides.

 

Bernard Husson, CIEDEL