A long-time HAWG collaborator, Professor Mark Schuller has written many times about NGOs and disaster response. He offers an important list of “lessons learned” from past recovery operations and how we must be cautious to not keep reinforcing the same cycle.
We recommend reading the full article Hurricane Matthew in Haiti: Looking Beyond the Disaster Narrative
Many people, including Haitian scholars, journalists, and social movements, have taken stock of the lessons learned from the humanitarian aftershocks. Among them include:
1) Support the initiatives led by Haitian people and groups
2) If we contribute aid to a foreign agency, demand they post their decisions and relationships with local groups
3) Solidarity, not charity
4) Address the root causes, including neoliberal policies our governments enforced
5) Demand that our aid has real participation by local groups, not just doing the work but setting priorities and identifying how the work is to get done
6) Actually reinforce human capacity – making sure this time expertise is shared with a critical mass of Haitian actors, who can and should be the ones making decisions
7) Link humanitarian aid to development (not the old, failed neoliberal model), and disaster preparedness
The storm will leave, the flood waters recede. I hope the world’s attention span will last at least a little longer, so that we will finally apply lessons at least Haitian people learned.