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“Many of those displaced still haven't returned home. Funds for rebuilding remain scarce… a lack of basic services, troubles with contractors and skilled-labor shortages complicate the situation” --that was New Orleans a year after Katrina, according to NPR.
This is a joint post with Caroline Decker.
Less than a month until the anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital, 1.3 million still live in tents, clean water remains an issue with cholera rapidly spreading, and millions of cubic meters of debris litter the streets, hampering rebuilding efforts. But Haiti was hardly in great shape before the earthquake. Despite years of assistance, 80% of its population was living under the poverty line, 2 out of 3 Haitians did not have a formal job, and infrastructure was minimal.
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.
This is a joint post with Kaci Farrell.
Later this month, world leaders will meet at the UN in New York City to discuss accomplishments and challenges to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 target. While their discussions will cover a range of topics and strategies, summit participants should remember the importance of trade as a development tool.
Trade preference programs can encourage investment, promote prosperity and ultimately reduce poverty in the world’s least developed countries.
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:
Nearly four months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, and after receiving a letter from former Presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress seems prepared to expand access for Haitian apparel exports with the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act. This is important because apparel is one of the few sectors, outside of construction, that can quickly create formal sector jobs for thousands of desperate Haitians, particularly women.
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?