Experts: Plan Haiti’s Long-Term Recovery Now

What's the best way the international community can help Haiti rise from the rubble left by the Jan. 12 earthquake?

Build the country's resilience, development experts say.

Of course the initial course for recovery would be to rebuild houses, reconstruct roads, and rehabilitate other infrastructure, but these efforts may prove useless if Haiti's development partners don't help the country improve its ability to respond to future disasters and more importantly, to learn to look after itself.

Donors and aid agencies must help rebuild Haitian state institutions and governance and they must rebuild the relationship between its citizens and rulers, Alison Evans, director of the Overseas Development Institute, argues on the London organization's Web site.

This approach should curb the country's dependency on foreign input - be it aid, remittances or investment. This dependency, Evans says, is one of the reasons why Haiti is in such a fragile state. It lacks internal resources to support itself.

One way to address the issue is to strengthen Haiti's economy. This can be accomplished by investing in the country's human capital and in its service industry, which Evans notes has been growing significantly in the past years.

Stability is also important. For one, the international community should address land management in order to prevent potential social unrest, Evans says. A third essential element is timing. Long-term recovery should start from day one, Evans notes.

Ben Ramalingam has a similar take on that point. The head of research and development at the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action says recovery should start as soon as possible without affecting the pace of relief operations.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.