Leaving Haiti

The other day, the WHO asked aid groups in Haiti not to leave for at least 60 days. I found that kind of confusing, to be honest, because no aid agency is going to leave Haiti on purpose. Their humanitarian mission will make them want to stay – these groups do after all, want to help people. So will their competitiveness. Getting to open an office in a new country is exciting, and expands an NGO’s global reach.

NGOs will leave Haiti when they no longer have the funding to stay. They will do their best to stay – intense public fundraising appeals, unsolicited proposals to government donors, staff drawdowns, and salary cuts – but eventually there will be no money to remain in Haiti. Then, and only then, they’ll leave. (Except MSF. MSF leaves when the “emergency phase is over.” But as far as I know, only MSF does that.)

That means there is no point in appealing to the NGOs to stay. The WHO is aiming its pleas in the wrong direction. It’s not, in the end, the NGOs’ choice. We need to donate the money to keep them there, and push our governments to do the same. Whether or not the NGOs stay in Haiti is up to us.


Photo credit: Zedworks

Chosen because – that’s how you leave, right? On a jet plane?