Haiti: Leadership during Disaster Relief and Recovery

In the early hours of January 12, 2010 an earthquake with the magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale shook the city of Port-au-Prince.   The incident killed more than 220,000, with thousands more injured, 1.5 million people suddenly homeless on the Caribbean island.   The earthquake hit in one of the poorest countries of the world- Haiti. One year later, the response to the disaster was overwhelming; private individuals, organizations and governments all over the world have donated or pledged billions of dollars, the flow of assistance helping to take the harsh edge off the emergency needs for food, clean water, temporary shelter and health care (Bieser, 2010).   However the recovery remains to be seen, only a small fraction of the rubble from the collapsed buildings have been cleared, hundreds of thousands remain homeless in crowed camps. We most also remember that the earthquake destroyed the livelihoods of the majority of the survivors aggravating joblessness. Adding to the country’s problems, a cholera outbreak in the rural north in the fall has spread, with the death count at 3,600 and hundreds of thousands at risk of infection.   With the void of leadership, lack of coordination of donors’ worldwide, and excessive bureaucracy from the U.S.   one can understand why the relief and recovery efforts to the people of Haiti have been hindered (Cutler, 2010).

Although many donor nations helped Haiti with all good intentions, most lacked coordination. There has been no single person or office tasked with simply coordinating the efforts or government agencies, non profits, non government agencies, and international bodies.   A wide variety of people and organizations want to contribute to relief efforts ranging from non-profit organizations, to governments, to kind-hearted individuals.   Everyone wants to rush in and save the day, or at least a life.   That is a natural feeling and desire, but sadly, many times it’s...