Haiti: From Rescue to Recovery and Reconstruction was the title of a hearing yesterday held by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On the link you can watch the video of the hearing (as of today the first 32 minutes of the on-line video is just silence, so if you move the slider over about one-quarter of the way, the hearing starts).
Paul Farmer continues to be the most prominent voice on Haiti that does not seem to fear telling truth to power. While many commentators blame the Haitian government for everything and anything (indeed one feels that many commentators seem to think that the Duvaliers are still in power), Farmer points out the intricate relation of the the US and Haiti and how that affects the ability of Haiti to have a sound public administration. For instance, Dr. Farmer wrote in his testimony:
Many of us worry that, if past is prologue, Haitians themselves will be blamed for this torpor. But as we have argued before, there are serious problems in the aid machinery, and these have contributed to the "delivery challenges" on the ground. The aid machinery currently at work in Haiti keeps too much overhead for its operations and still relies overmuch on NGOs or contractors who do not observe the ground rules we would need to follow to build Haiti back better. The fact that there are more NGOs per capita in Haiti than in any other country in the hemisphere is in part a reflection of need, but also in part a reflection of overreliance on NGOs divorced from the public health and education sectors.
Haiti will continue to need the contractors, and the NGOs and mission groups, but more importantly we will need to create new ground rules—including a focus on creating local jobs for Haitians, and on building the infrastructure that is crucial to creating sustainable economic growth and ultimately reducing Haiti's dependence on aid.
Dr. Rony Francois, a Haitian American and the Director of Public Health in Georgia, emphasized in his testimony that long term development focus on reducing the population concentration in P-a-P by developing the outlying cities.