Nine days after the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti, media attention is beginning to wane. What will happen next, when the cameras are off? Will the world lose interest? The challenges are enormous because the ultimate goal is not to turn the clock back to January 11th, the day before the earthquake. On that day, Haiti was the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with four of five people living in poverty, life expectancy about 61 years, and the literacy rate only fifty three percent. Massive deforestation was causing socio-economic havoc – the days of coffee, sugar, and cotton production a distant memory.
When it comes to Haiti’s recovery there are many more questions than answers. With over 10,000 NGOs already present in Haiti before the earthquake and hundreds of millions of dollars pouring in since, who will coordinate relief efforts? Is the government capable of running the country or is international help needed to shore up each important government service? How can the economy recover in the face of such a high illiteracy rate? Who will train people for jobs? How can Haitians obtain bare necessities such as food, water, and medical care with an infrastructure that is decimated both literally and figuratively?
For this week’s CBS Doc Dot Com, I spoke to Gerald Martone, Director of Humanitarian Affairs at the International Relief Committee, about these questions and others as Haiti tries not only to survive but to become a self-sustaining, prosperous nation.