Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

From Disaster Aid to Solidarity: Best Practices in Meeting the Needs of Haiti’s Earthquake Survivors

By Beverly Bell,

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At the request of the Platform to Advocate Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA), Other Worlds has produced a new report, “From Disaster Aid to Solidarity: Best Practices              in Meeting the Needs of Haiti’s Earthquake Survivors.” Written by Other Worlds Coordinator Beverly Bell, “From Disaster Aid to Solidarity” documents the problems with the international aid and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, and presents innovative alternative models of humanitarian relief.

From the executive summary:

The international response to Haiti’s earthquake, involving billions of dollars and led by the U.S. and U.N., comes with many problems. Notable ones are control of aid dollars, imposition of economic reconstruction plans, and militarism. Moreover, the Haitian state and grassroots have largely been denied formal opportunities to shape, or even engage in, the process. Nevertheless, ordinary Haitian citizens are engaged in their own humanitarian aid. With no more than their own hands, their slim resources, and their commitment to community, citizens have comprised the bulk of search-and-rescue teams, first responders, and ongoing aid providers. Behind the gestures are philosophies of solidarity, mutual aid, collective resilience, and resourcefulness.

Some grassroots groups have taken the same impulses and turned them into organized programs. They are offering shelter, medical care, community mental health care, food, water, children’s activities, leisure activities, and security. Some of the programs also offer education and a supportive social structure, while others provide a launching pad for community organizing to shape their country’s future. This report explores ten of these aid and support initiatives, which are only a small subset of those now underway throughout Haiti. Together, the efforts offer a different vision and practice of what ‘humanitarian’ means. And they serve as a guide to what a society which privileges mutual aid over profit, and democratic participation over domination, could look like.

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