What Rebuilding Haiti Will Mean

Debt relief, housing quality, and a better government are key
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2010 4:45 AM CST
People walk in front of the collapsed National Justice Palace in Port-au-Prince, Jan. 16, 2010. Relief groups are focused on moving aid flowing into Haiti to survivors of the earthquake.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – World leaders have vowed to rebuild Haiti's infrastructure into something better than it was before; the Independent takes a look at what this would mean in practice:

  • Higher-quality housing: Haiti has no building codes; international donors should insist the new dwellings their funds build for those left homeless in the quake meet higher standards. But with many of the displaced already building makeshift homes, this will be a challenge.

  • A viable government: It's currently lacking, and the country can't get back on its feet without one. Despite the recession, Haiti's economy grew by 2.5% last year; to return to that path, some want anti-corruption conditions attached to any money it's given, which in turn angers those who feel desperately needed aid should have no strings attached.
  • Debt reduction: Crippling foreign debts have long been a "critical millstone" hanging on Haiti's neck; rich countries need to speed up debt relief.
  • Aid that actually improves things: The US has spent $800 million in Haiti in the past five years, but 75% of the rice Haiti—which grew its all its own rice until the '80s—now eats comes from subsidy-rich American farms, resulting in unemployment for farmers and urban migration.

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