Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chris Blattman on why the easy story in Haiti may be misleading, and potentially devastating

Chris Blattman has a good piece on how the media is going after the "looting in Haiti" story, as is common after natural disasters, but that the looting and disorder in Haiti might actually be less severe than in most recent natural disasters.

He concludes:
Peacekeepers are undoubtedly needed. So is support for a struggling, possibly collapsed, state. I just want to suggest that an aid and security policy designed for thieving, ungovernable, progress-resistant Haitians looks very different from one that views civil society institutions as shaken but fundamentally strong.
I’m worried because the latter doesn’t make a very good news story.
The narrative of Haiti as a lawless, despondent place took root long before this catastrophe, and I'm with Blattman in worrying that it might be affecting our approach to relief aid and reconstruction policy.  For instance, would we be talking about an omnipotent Relief Fund with carte blanche to rebuild in a place with a better reputation?

Chris Blattman: Messaging, the media, and Haiti
Jeffrey Sachs: After the earthquake, how to rebuild Haiti from scratch

Donate to Haiti Partners via Chris Blattman

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