Haiti – Some Thoughts and Some Links

Rescuers in Haiti

Right now, the immediate emergency stage is already over, barring severe earthquake aftershocks. Tales From the Hood has some great posts up on Haiti and disaster relief. One excellent point:

The first phase of an emergency response is carried out by ordinary citizens in their own neighborhoods. Now, a day after the earthquake, the most nimble international aid agencies are just getting “feet dry” on Hispanola…All of those agencies will make dramatic statements about their life-saving relief work. But remember: At this moment people are being dug out and pulled alive from the rubble by their neighbors, husbands, mothers, and cousins…

I have a post at UN Dispatch on the health impact of an earthquake. Here’s the fast version – after the initial injuries are over, you need clean water, good toilets, and decent housing as fast as possible to prevent typhoid, dengue, and malaria.

Tales From the Hood, Aid Watch, and Good Intentions are Not Enough all have suggestions for who to give to for Haiti. My own suggestion is this – the single most important thing you can do when choosing where to donate is to pick an organization with a history in Haiti. That will make all the different in the speed and quality of their work.

I gave my own Haiti donations to two groups: Partners in Health (PiH), and Architecture for Humanity. PiH, founded by Paul Farmer, has an excellent reputation and a long history in Haiti. It’s also big enough to absorb as many donations as it gets. Architecture for Humanity has longstanding ties to Haiti, and strong relationships in country. They will be focused on the rebuilding effort, which is very important. Experience with the Tsunami showed that it’s easy to waste funds on building new structures that are culturally and environmentally wrong. I trust Architecture for Humanity to help make sure that Haiti builds back better.

Edited to add one more thing – Haiti doesn’t need donated goods right now. It’s difficult and expensive to ship donated stuff, and most donations will not be appropriate for Haiti. Now is the time to give cash.

Photo credit: American Red Cross