A Lacombe humanitarian organization is frustrated residents left homeless by a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti are still struggling to get the basics.
A Better World is trying to do what it can to help the impoverished people of Haiti after the country’s worst earthquake in more than 200 years struck about 25 km west of the capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12. About 225,000 people were killed while an estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless.
“It appears from our own assessment that people after six months are still not getting the basics,” said co-founder Eric Rajah via email from Kenya, where he is taking 24 local students on a tour of A Better World projects.
Rajah said the situation in Haiti isn’t much different than other places he has visited following natural disasters, namely Sri Lanka following the 2005 tsunami and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“The bureaucratic machinery of aid agencies takes a long time to move,” Rajah said.
Six months after the earthquake, United Nations and other aid agencies report that much of the funding to back pledges made months earlier have not come through and as a result, reconstruction efforts have slowed.
According to a CNN special investigation, countries including Canada, Spain, France and the United States, have not yet followed through on pledges to the United Nations Haiti Recovery Commission.
Relief officials said delays have occurred as well because of Haiti’s complex land tenure system.
Rajah agreed that land ownership has been an issue for rebuilding.
“People are still camping in vacant lots throughout the city,” he said. “Clearing the rubble with little machinery is a huge problem for individual families and small businesses. We are making a small difference as we are a small agency working without the bureaucracy.”
A Better World adopted a camp of 200 families, supplying it was water, food and medical services. Forty shelters have been built, with another 30 under construction. A shelter for a family of seven is costing $500.
Thor Burnham, a former resident of Lacombe, is overseeing the construction.
“Our long term goal is to build a school and we have the funds set aside,” Rajah said.
The land is available for such a project, but many who have lost their homes are using it as a campground.
Rajah, who visited the country in March, will return in August.