This week was the second anniversary of the Haitian earthquake and I came across a few picture essays about the country. I wish I could work out how to get some of the pics up here but I can’t so I am going to post links. (The pics shown here are mine.)
Two of the essays are from Foreign Policy, a magazine more used to publishing longer written works than photos. But hey, Haiti is so photogenic (as I posted here in my amateur slideshow in December) so it makes sense.
Here are a couple of links from the professionals.
The first is startling for its subject matter, the 1 per cent of richest Haitians. Startling not just because of their wealth, but because they are so unembarrassed about posing for pictures in a country where up to 80 % of the people live on less than $2 a day.
There’s something obscene about being so rich when so many around you are so poor. The subjects in these pictures might contribute in many ways (one of them is the new president) and they might not be responsible for the state Haiti is in.
But one of them bought the land around his house so poor people wouldn’t squat on it and sully his views and that tells its own story. It all makes me a bit uncomfortable. All credit to the photographer for making it happen.
The second essay compares Port-au-Prince today with the day after the earthquake and tries to show where progress has been made and where things haven’t changed (or worsened). Ben Depp, who took the pics for my Chronicle of Higher Education piece, took the new pics for this one: Ben’s website is here.
There are a couple of written pieces too. Foreign Policy has a piece urging the US to help Haiti recover by accepting more Haitian immigrants. (Brazil recently closed its door to the influx of Haitians but agreed to help out the several thousand already here.) The piece says:
“As we approach the second anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake, which killed around 150,000 people and destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, there has been mixed progress. About half of the rubble has been cleared (if that sounds slow, consider it took five years to remove far less rubble in Aceh after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami). About half a million people are still living in camps in Haiti — but that is down from closer to 1.5 million two years ago. Meanwhile cholera, introduced by U.N. peacekeeping troops, killed over 7,000 people in the aftermath of the crisis — the infection rate has abated but the disease remains endemic.
Progress after a disaster is always slower than hoped. For all the benefits that the donor community has provided in reconstruction, one reason for the lack of progress is the often snail-like pace of heavily bureaucratized assistance efforts in the chaotic post-catastrophe conditions of weakly governed states. For example, only about half of the cash promised by donors to Haiti for 2010-2011 had been disbursed by last month — and the figure for U.S.-given aid is only about 30 percent. There is still a huge gap between donor disbursement and impact on the ground; a lot of the resources have been disbursed only as far as implementing agencies like NGOs and international agencies, many of whom have yet to spend the cash.”
And here’s an excellent piece in Rolling Stone from August based around Sean Penn’s role and the convoluted decisions taken by aid workers and authorities.
Penn didn’t like it one bit, and wrote this long response. But I think the story is detailed and well researched and well worth a read if you have the time.