The Haitian earthquake caused such widespread death and damage that it’s hard to comprehend.
The human toll of lives lost and families torn apart is heart wrenching. We see images of buildings, homes, government offices as rubble, roads almost impassable – with desperate survivors needing aide for everything. Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and has been kicked in the belly by this tragic event.
What do we do? Thankfully, governments and NGOs have responded with planeloads of aide, hospital ships, rescue personal and millions in donations. This rescue effort provides emergency water, food, medical care to the Haitian people – but we all know that handouts are not sustainable for the long run.
Former President Clinton spoke of the need to “rebuild it better than before.” When the buildings are flattened, water and power systems broken, communications failing – there’s the opportunity to rebuild it right. It’s time for our best engineers, architects and designers to step up.
Infrastructure is something we all take for granted in our daily lives – roads, sewers, power, water delivery, communications via computer and phone. These systems are the foundation for any civil society. Noted economist Jeffrey Sachs has offered a 10 year plan for rebuilding Haiti right. The international relief effort must transition to long-term reconstruction and development. We see a chance to build anew, with safe building codes and sustainable infrastructure.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti could harness the abundant solar, wind and geothermal resources of Hispaniola Island and tie the power grids of both nations together. See our GENI report on Small Island Renewables.
Geographically, Haiti will endure future earthquakes and hurricanes. If we rebuild right, the consequences can be minimized and the Haitian people can share in the wealth of the Western Hemisphere. They are our neighbors and it’s the right thing to do.
In partnership for the planet,