Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haiti - Cholera, aid and NGOs

So what has been happening in Haiti?  What we do know is that there is still an ongoing cholera outbreak.  We know there are thousands of NGOs besides the UN are working to provide relief to the people.

Ground Zero: Unfortunately scientific evidence indicates that the cholera outbreak Haiti likely began at a camp for UN peacekeepers from Nepal.  Professor Renaud Piarroux, a  French epidemiologist concluded the epidemic began with an imported strain of the disease that he traced back to the Nepalese base.  It was clear that ground zero has been very precisely located which is the UN base at Mirebalais on the Artibonite River in central Haiti.  Before October, there was no cholera in Haiti.   So what has been happening in Haiti?  What we do know is that there is still an ongoing cholera outbreak.  We know there are thousands of NGOs besides the UN working to provide relief to the people.

Who is to blame? Piarroux did not directly blame the Nepalese, but said the cholera was from abroad.  Whether it was brought in by the Nepalese or one of the workers of one of over 10,000 NGOs in the country the cholera was not “home grown.”   NGOs are a vital factor in everyday life in Haiti. With a weak to non-existing viable government the majority of local services like water, vaccinations, schools, and clinics are provided by NGOs.

NGOs do life-saving and necessary work. However, no matter how charitable or lofty their aims, the NGOs are actually competing with one another. Since they all rely on donations, and in Haiti they must also bid on contract work financed by outside government agencies, like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), there is sometimes more effort put into the administration of the NGO instead of the services they deliver.

The road to Hell: Sometimes in all of the effort to assist a developing nation, just the mere presence of peacekeepers or NGO workers can cause problems.   This is not to blame anyone, it just needs to be noted that even with all of our best efforts and best of intentions, things can happen that are not so good.  Haiti has suffered, but strangely the neighbor that shares the island does not have nearly the problems Haiti does. 

The UN's Plea for more help: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the cholera epidemic in Haiti could affect as many as 650,000 people over the next 6 months.  He said the current toll could actually be twice as much as the reported numbers of 1,800 deaths and nearly 81,000 infected, because of difficulties collecting accurate data.  He asked for faster aid to fight the epidemic from the international community.  Interestingly the UN appeal for $164 million has raised only 20 per cent of its goal so far.

Whatever the case of all that may happen, workers in Haiti have their hands full.  For those working there, I wish you all of the best, most of all

Stay Safe!

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    It is not an easy task to be amongst those saving humanity from disasters! Cholera is deadly but it is very much preventable! Your post is very rich and will help in this fight to prevent cholera outbreak in some regions!Thanks for the wonderful works you guys are doing!


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