The death toll from Hurricane Matthew rose to more than 100 on Thursday, officials said, as the scope of the devastation became clearer with reconnaissance flights revealing flattened villages and aid groups warning of a massive humanitarian crisis unfolding.Having reported from Haiti for two years, a few comments:
1) Most of my friends live in the capital and northern parts of the country, not the south, which was hardest-hit. They are okay. Thanks to those who've asked.
3) Whether relief and reconstruction efforts are effective—the efforts after the 2010 earthquake were not—depends on whether the government of Haiti coordinates them. Foreign NGOs are accountable mainly to their donors—not the recipients of aid, not the Haitian people. Recovery must be led and driven by Haitians themselves, and it must be coordinated to be successful. The government is the closest proxy we have for their will. The Haitian state is an enduring, indigenous, durable institution, not a constantly-shifting patchwork. Haiti needs strong institutions, not piecemeal, haphazard aid.
4) Matthew wiped out major bridges. Only a government can build a bridge, connect it properly to other roads, and maintain it. Here are machine operators from Haiti's state-run construction company, CNE, helping repair a flooded crossing. CNE is known for hiring women and defying traditional gender roles. Remember when the Skagit River I-5 bridge collapsed in northern Washington? We didn't ask some random NGO to rebuild it. This is a job for the state.
CNE is doing an Amazing job, if you have a four by four you can make it to the southern region of the country. #Matthew #Haiti pic.twitter.com/FrzLSblUm2
— Etant Dupain (@gaetantguevara) October 6, 2016
Your best options, donation-wise, are NGOs that are either Haitian-run or that do coordinate closely with the Haitian government. My suggestions are Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders, SOIL Haiti, the Lambi Fund, the Mouvman Peyizan Papay, or SAKALA.
Still, as I wrote two years ago:
Remember that good intentions are often harmful. I sat on the plane next to a missionary who, to her credit, was realizing on the way home that she should have donated directly to the Haitian village she's trying to support, instead of traveling there to build schools and paint houses—jobs that Haitians could do themselves.
I suggested to her that Americans would do much better by Haiti if they'd just make sure their own government stopped undermining the country.
6) Whatever you do, don't donate to appease your own conscience and stop there. This is primarily a man-made disaster, not a natural one. Haiti is poor and especially vulnerable to hurricanes for human (read: political) reasons, not physical ones. Hurricanes hit Taiwan, another small island nation, all the time, but they don't cause this kind of devastation.
The causes of Haiti's poverty are deep. They have to do with racism and capitalism and empire, and they date back to the Haitian revolution of 1804. This is a good introduction:
In the long run, Haiti needs solidarity, not charity.