The December issue of Foreign Policy has an article by Paul Farmer, of Partners in Health, entitled “5 Lessons From Haiti’s Disaster
What the earthquake taught us about foreign aid“. It begins:
1. Jobs are everything. All humans need money — they need it to buy food and water every day. And no matter how hard the government or the aid industry tries, people will want for all three things until they are employed…
2. Don’t starve the government. The international community doesn’t know best. Local people do. NGOs like the one that I am lucky to work with cannot replace the state — nor can the United Nations or anyone else. We don’t have the expertise, and we won’t stay forever. We don’t have the same stake in building a community that the locals themselves have… On this, almost everyone agrees.
Some donors argue that the Haitian government is rife with corruption and mismanagement — and that infusing it with money will only make matters worse. But we need to strengthen the public sector, not weaken it. And that will take a working budget….
I swear, this reminds me of a massive political disaster currently afflicting some other country, one which used to be proud of its “global pre-eminence”.