Friday, January 22, 2010

Neglect of rural development worsens post-quake situation in Haiti

NPR reported tonight on how recent development strategies (or the lack thereof) in Haiti have worsened the situation in the wake of last week's quake. An excerpt that quotes Professor Gerald Murray, an anthropologist at the University of Florida, follows:
Murray suggests that the decline of agriculture exacerbated the quake's toll. Haitians left the countryside for Port-au-Prince, creating a dense population in poorly built housing that couldn't withstand the quake.

"[In] the village I lived in, people were still planning a future for their children on the farm, they would try to acquire more land and purchase more land. Now it is more common to find people selling more land to finance emigration," Murray says — emigration not only to Port-au-Prince but to Haiti's neighbor, the Dominican Republic, which is not eager to see more Haitian immigrants. He adds that the quake will probably propel even more Haitians to leave the country.
Listen to the full story here, which touches on issues of migration, development policy, agriculture and sustainability.

On a somewhat related note, the New York Times reports today on the challenges of delivering relief to rural Haiti. See a video here under the headline "Confusion in the Haitian Countryside; Roadblocks Delay Aid to Rural Haiti."

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