Thursday, January 14, 2010

posted Jan 14, 2010, 2:24 PM by Jeremy Poehnert   [ updated Jan 14, 2010, 2:39 PM ]
There was an earthquake in Haiti.  According to the initial reports Port-Au-Prince, which is also the capital, is completely devastated.  It's still too early to gauge the extent of injuries and deaths, but the early estimates are staggering.

The early reports are still fragmented and incomplete, but it sounds like the local government is completely overwhelmed.  Haiti is, if I remember correctly, one of the poorest countries in the world.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have to deal with something like this.  Our resources were inadequate in the face of Hurricane Katrina, and we were overwhelmed by the chaos caused by the flooding.  What can it be like in a place with less resources and a less developed infra-structure?

There are already international relief efforts, from governments and nonprofit organizations, moving in.  But there are never enough resources, and nothing can undo the loss of life.

I can't help but thinking about factors that exacerbate situations like this.  What if countries like Haiti had more support in developing and sustaining their economies and their infrasturctures?  What if they didn't have to wrestle with such severe poverty?  Would they be a better place to cope with something like this?  Would the loss of life be lessened?

Unfortunately, while the international community tends to respond to emergency situations, like an earthquake, we rarely want to invest in systemic, long term development that can help prevent or reduce the costs of these events.