Some problems they are having in Haiti

1. Since many financial institutions are closed, transport is difficult, and people don't all have their papers (fear of theft also may be an issue), it is almost impossible to receive remittances, which account for more than one-quarter of the country's gdp.

2. The current makeshift shelters are not robust to rain and storms and the rainy season is starting in May.  Rain also brings a greater risk of various diseases.

3. The price of food keeps on rising.  It was already the case — before the earthquake — that poor people commonly ate mud cakes as a source of nutrition.  54 percent of Haitians live on less than one dollar a day.

4. The party with the ability to make things happen — the U.S. military — isn't formally in charge and is sensitive to bad publicity.

5. In the Darfur crisis, eighty percent of the fatalities came from disease and disease has yet to begin in the Haitian situation.

6. There are already 150,000 accounted-for dead and many more uncounted.

7. It's by no means clear that the aftershocks are over and there is even some chance of a bigger quake to come.  This also discourages aid efforts and the construction of more permanent shelter.

8. Outside of some parts of Port-Au-Prince and immediate environs, external aid is barely underway yet damage is extensive.

9. It is not clear that the upcoming planting season — which starts in March — will proceed in an orderly fashion.  One-third of the country's population is living at loose ends and most of the country's infrastructure is destroyed.  For the planting season many Haitian farmers need seeds, fertilisers, livestock feed and animal vaccines.  That planting season accounts for sixty percent of Haiti's agricultural output.

10. Before a limb can be amputated, some doctors have to first go to the market and buy a saw.

Those aren't the only problems.


Interesting article. Tyler, I am grappling with a tough question. Typically markets function to allocate goods to those who value them most. In a disaster setting (e.g. Haiti), markets are non-functioning, and at least the first round of allocation is achieved through a central planner. So, my question is how do Aid organizations attempt to mimic markets and distribute aid efficiently? Or, do they simply distribute aid at random and hope for a Coasian solution?

In response to the last comment, you are only thinking that the market would generate one response. In a pure market (which I am not a fan of at all), the most natural response might simple be to leave and look for food, shelter and work elsewhere. One of the tragedies of the current situation maybe to freeze the dominance of Port au Prince by keeping people in place to receive food, shelter and basic health care. I really think that we have to consider encouraging people to relocate to the North (shift the capital temporarily to Le Cap as Taylor has suggested?), encouraging the DR to open up the border, and generally working with other countries to allow increases in Haitian immigrants. Throughout history the first response of the poor to disaster has often been to leave and seek better pastures. We harm Haiti if we do not allow this natural response to disaster.

Seems like the best plan would be air drop supplies while Brazil and the US Army repair the port and build a road or rail from the port to city, then hire as many hatians as possible to build roads, plant trees, and distribute seed for next year's planting.

The party with the ability to make things happen -- the U.S. military -- isn't formally in charge and is sensitive to bad publicity.

Half right, half wrong.

As of Friday afternoon, Haitian officials, the UN, and the US, sensitive to the bad publicity on delivery of aid where the aid organizations have complained about the priorities of the Haitian air controllers in plane landings, and the failures of Haitians to provide ground transport from the airport, and the failure of the UN to coordinate the aid and resources needed to deliver the aid, instead letting the local people and aid organization act without the UN imposing a bureaucracy on all of them, have agreed to:
- the US is responsible for coordinating and facilitating all the logistics for airports, seaports, and ground transport.
- the UN is responsible with Haitian police authority and the UN peace keepers, mostly Brazilians, with all security.
- the UN and Haitian authorities are responsible for coordinating all aid programs.

One problem not mentioned is all the supplies the US and Canada military have gotten into Haiti that are just sitting around because the aid organizations that had it delivered have not picked it up and delivered it to those in need.

Yep, the Canadian military that has taken over a second air field that was not setup for commercial air traffic and is now handling flights in and out. They are installing all the equipment needed for commercial cargo: air and ground control, runway and ramp lights, and landing systems.

And then there are the supplies in the other two airports in the DR that aren't being picked up and distributed.

Putting the US in charge of the air and sea ports, and in getting ground transport functioning won't solve the problems of getting the supplies streaming into the country anymore than the freight companies are responsible for the shipments to businesses being used by the businesses - anyone who has worked for a business knows supplies are delivered and then sit around because the people who ordered them aren't the ones who will use them, and those who must use the supplies aren't prepared for them when they arrive because they didn't order them.

If the US military were put in charge of delivering the aid directly, then the NGOs will be an impediment because the US military would need the supplies to deliver to its plans, not the supplies that outside NGOs think the US military should need.

The DR has been killing Haitians for years -- if they half way decent people they would open the border

The DR has been killing Haitians for years -- if they half way decent people they would open the border.
DR is poor , the USA is richer but big sis has promised them to put in Guantanamo is they dare to flee

Central planner nelsonal, have at it, you have my blessing.

Good luck getting all the resources, aka NGOs, to follow your orders.

And I gather you are happy to promote profiteering and corruption on large scales as you seem to be calling for simply dropping supplies where the thugs will be able to take control and sell them off.


I'm thinking that when people like this come to the use they should be baptized on the shore and be born-again in the USA. Only half joking.

Sometimes I think central planning would be alright as long as I were in charge. I'm sure it's complicated but this may be simpler than some think. I don't care if thugs gouge for drinking water as long as it gets sold. The problem with these situations is that central planning is a foregone conclusion.

I think (hope) people are mis-reading Joe American if they think that the general attitude toward the Haitians will be similar to the attitude towards the Katrina victims.

Can we send them a bunch of sea-tainers that they can convert into living quarters?

American jugbands unite for their own relief efforts:
"Saws for Haiti!"

The population of Haiti has almost tripled since 1960, and the average Haitian woman has four babies. Haiti's portion of the island of Hispaniola has been completely deforested. After water, food, shelter, and medical aid, a hundred million condoms would help the most.


Why do people always suggest population control in 3rd world countries? Is this some sort of fantasy folks have with trying to control the birth rates of poor people?

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