Before the earthquake that struck the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas on 12 January 2010, Haiti was already considered to be a fragile and impoverished state. 78% of Haiti’s 10 million people lived on less than US$2 a day, infant mortality was among the highest in the western hemisphere, and life expectancy reached only 60 years. Unemployment stood at 60%, contributing to a serious loss of skills and human resources through widespread migration to the US and other countries including the Dominican Republic.
The earthquake left at least 230,000 people dead6 and much of the country in ruins. In addition to the physical devastation, state services were badly hit. An estimated 16,000 Haitian civil servants died in the disaster. Many of the of social government buildings were destroyed. In the aftermath of the earthquake, civil society organisations from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic joined in solidarity to play a key role in providing and caring for the survivors and beginning the process of long-term reconstruction.
Six months after the earthquake, Progressio asked a range of Haitian and Dominican civil society organisations their views and perspectives on the relief and reconstruction process. This report gathers some of those views and presents some key findings.
Progressio believes it is important that lessons are learned from the experiences of civil society organisations so far, in order to ensure the full engagement of civil society in the long-term reconstruction and development of Haiti. This is also a key opportunity to review recent improvements in Dominican-Haitian bi-national relations with a view to strengthening them for the future.
It is hoped that this report will be of interest to international development agencies, donors, civil society organisations (CSOs),8 non-governmental organisations (NGOs),9 and governments responding to the emergency and engaging in the reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Progressio believes that this is an opportunity to take a holistic approach to the long-term development of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
With the eyes of the international community already moving away from Haiti, we need to make sure that the ongoing needs of the Haitian people are kept firmly on the agenda of policymakers, donors and international NGOs.