In an interview with NPR, Wyclef Jean said: " Because think about it, you've had NGOs in Haiti for over 30 years and you still have no real infrastructure." I've heard similar comments from lots of different people since the earthquake. The problem is that there has never been enough money to fix the damage caused by any of the numerous disasters that have hit Haiti nor to help it rebuild its infrastructure. The situation in the Haitian town of Gonaives is a great example of how foreign assistance fails. Gonaives was badly flooded in 2004 by Tropical Storm Jeanne. Thousands of people died. Immediately after the disaster, a lot of money was poured in to feed the disaster victims. Later some money was put into rebuilding houses and cleaning the city. However, there wasn't enough to fix the damages, much less to make the city safer.
In 2008, Gonaives was flooded again. Some people complained about how inefficient the aid must have been to have left Gonaives vulnerable to repeated flooding. The truth is, there was never enough money. Imagine New Orleans if the dikes had never been repaired. That is Gonaives today. As Jeffrey Sachs put it so well in The End of Poverty, there is never enough money to really end poverty. However, money is only half the problem.
The international community cannot take charge of a country. Haiti is a sovereign country with an elected president. Neither the United Nations nor the United States (nor any non governmental organization) can replace a sitting government. We can help and advice, but the host government has to lead. International development assistance is very effective at protecting vulnerable populations, but it cannot make a country develop itself.
Sorry Wyvlef. The international community can't take responsibility for Haiti's future. Yes, we've made mistakes and yes, all countries act with their own interests in mind. However, Haiti's leadership is responsible for Haiti's future. You know that you would not want it any other way.