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Twelve months after the devastating earthquake, some of the fresh ideas CGD policy experts proposed to help Haiti through non-aid channels have gained traction, while others remain relevant, but have yet to be tried. The anniversary is a time to revisit progress and shine a light on untapped opportunities to assist Haitians in their reconstruction efforts through U.S.
Earlier this week, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof commented on the dire situation in Haiti, nearly one year after the catastrophic earthquake.
In addition to noting the immediate needs of medical workers and cholera patients, Kristof aptly recognized that trade preference programs are a critical investment in Haiti’s long-term, sustainable development.
Following the devastating earthquake in January, CGD experts offered fresh ideas on how the U.S. and the international community could help Haiti rebuild, particularly through non-aid channels. Several recent developments in the U.S. legislative branch reflect or build upon these ideas:
This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post
Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.
But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.
The U.S. response in Haiti must be about more than aid, CGD president Nancy Birdsall told Congress this week. She urged members of Congress to push for better trade and migration policies—in addition to more flexibility with our assistance efforts—to help Haiti rebuild after the earthquake.
When I was writing about third world debt a decade ago, I watched Jubilee 2000 and other debt cancellation campaigners pound their way to victory with simplistic claims about the importance of debt cancellation, such as that principal and interest payments were diverting enough government revenue from poor countries' health budgets to kill 19,000 children per day. I wondered: are they naive or am I?