Today is the day that bloggers participating in the Bloggers Unite for Haiti event submit their posts. Their badge is at the right hand column. I already did a couple of posts but with this one I want to try it more directly with the Millennium Development Goals.
The events in Haiti are now moving from the emergency response stage to the rebuilding stage. Numerous problems arose during the massive effort to respond to the disaster that will be the source of lessons to take forward. The biggest issue to my mind was that again it was using a pound of cure instead of an ounce of prevention which would have been the case if the Millennium Development Goals had already been made a reality. It is not only a matter of how well developing countries would be able to address major disasters themselves but how well a global cooperative effort would be able to do so.
One of the problems was the cessation of planes from the United States carrying earthquake victims to Florida hospitals. SHAILA DEWAN of the New York Times wrote about the Cost Dispute Halts Airlift of Injured Haiti Quake Victims: The United States has suspended its evacuations of critically injured victims until a dispute over who will pay for their care in Florida and other states is settled. The number and complexity of the cases the medical care was costing the state of Florida millions. Florida Governor Crist’s requested the federal government to shoulder some of the expense
“Florida stands ready to assist our neighbors in Haiti, but we need a plan of action and reimbursement for the care we are providing,” Mr. Ivey spokesman for Mr. Crist said.
I am not going to fault Florida because I agree that this and similar issues should be addressed at the national and global level. It is an inefficiency of the system that it overburdens a component of the system with relatively limited resources. The structure necessary to bring about the Millennium Development Goals would not only help developing countries to establish their own economic and infrastructure systems to weather disasters, it would also help establish a more robust cooperative system between nations.
The ongoing funding of the relief efforts is also penny wise pound foolish. The idea now is to forgive Haiti's debt. ONE is organizing an international campaign ONE | Help Haiti: Drop the Debt to persuade world leaders to cancel Haiti’s $1 billion international debt and give the country a chance for significant and lasting recovery. This blog also supports a similar effort by Change.org whose widget is at the right hand column if anybody wants to add their support.Tom Hart, Director of Government Relations at ONE, personally delivered more than 150,000 ONE member petition signatures from to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging debt cancellation for Haiti. Because of this effort and others, the IMF, Inter-American Development Bank, U.S. Treasury and other key players say that they want to find a way to cancel Haiti's debt. At least one has spoken up is support of this.
IMF: Haiti needs a Marshall Plan
The International Monetary Fund says Haiti will require an effort along the lines of the Marshall Plan for long-term reconstruction.
"My belief is that Haiti -- which has been incredibly hit by different things: the food and fuel prices crisis, then the hurricane, then the earthquake -- needs something that is big," the managing director of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund said.
"Not only a piecemeal approach, but something which is much bigger to deal with the reconstruction of the country -- some kind of a Marshall Plan that we need now to implement for Haiti," he said, referring to the US initiative launched in 1947 to rebuild war-ravaged western Europe. Google/Agence France-Presse
ONE wants to raise the number of signatures to 200,000 and deliver it to the world financial leaders when U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and other G7 finance ministers will be meeting in the Arctic Canadian town of Iqaluit. Right now, they are at 175,377 signature.
The question is how much more effective would those dollars have been if they had been invested before the disaster to build Haiti rather than rebuilding a shattered landscape. There isn't really all that much of a commitment coming from the G7 since Haiti was extremely poor before and now is devastated and its ability to repay the debt is basically nil. Fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Declaration would have far more lasting effect.
I am not going to try to claim that the Millennium Development Goals will solve the world's problems or eliminate the tragedy of disasters but they would help the world by making both the ability to withstand them and to address them more equitable and more efficient.