Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reverse migration to rural Haiti

Deborah Sontag reports in today's New York Times under the headline, "After Quake, Rural Haiti Struggles to Absorb the Displaced." An excerpt follows:
Life has come full circle for many Haitians who originally migrated to escape the grinding poverty of the countryside. Since the early 1980s, rural Haitians have moved at a steady clip to Port-au-Prince in search of schools, jobs and government services. After the earthquake, more than 600,000 returned to the countryside, according to the government, putting a serious strain on desperately poor communities that have received little emergency assistance.
The founder of a leading "peasant cooperative" in one of the rural regions is quoted:
“But the misery of the countryside is compounding the effects of the disaster. I’ve heard people say it would be better to risk another earthquake in Port-au-Prince than to stay in this rural poverty without any help from the government.”
This strikes me as a powerful plea for more even development, great spatial equality in a developing world context. Indeed, the story provides more information about how Haiti desires the decentralization that would accompany reverse migration to the countryside.

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