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Effects Of 2010 Earthquake Still Mar Haiti

Jan 12, 2013
Originally published on January 12, 2013 10:08 am



Three years ago today, a massive earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. About 200,000 people were killed. More than a million were left homeless. Governments and aid agencies from around the world pledged billions of dollars to help Haiti recover and rebuild from the quake. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was just one of many leaders who vowed that the international community would stand by Haiti for the long process of reconstruction.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: We will also be conveying very directly and personally to the Haitian people our long-term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies, to reinforce President Obama's message yesterday that they are not facing this crisis alone.

SIMON: But three years later, many of the grand plans to build back better in Haiti have apparently fizzled.

NPR's Jason Beaubien covered the quake in 2010. He's been back numerous times. He joins us now from Port-au-Prince. Jason, thanks for being with us.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: No, it's good to be with you.

SIMON: And help us understand what has happened over the last three years.

BEAUBIEN: What has happened is that basically people have been kept alive. People moved into camps. Humanitarian aid agencies came in; they provided water, they've provided tarps. There've been a lot of plans for new housing construction, for new apartment buildings, for all kinds of things but most of those have not happen.

Only about 5000 units of permanent new housing have been built. There are still hundreds of thousands of people living in tents. Many of the temporary shelters that were built by aid agencies, made out of just plywood with a roof, those basically have become permanent. So, the lot of the grand plans just have not worked out.

SIMON: For all the effort there must be some major accomplishments.

BEAUBIEN: You know, one of the big accomplishments is that most of the rubble has gotten removed; is you don't see huge piles of rubble around Port-au-Prince anymore. It's something that the humanitarian agencies talked about. Just also the fact that people were kept alive is something that they tout as a major accomplishment.

But just last night, President Martelly was complaining that for the billions of dollars that were pledged that came in here, that were spent by aid agencies, he's not seeing results. And he says he's not satisfied with the way this process has gone.

SIMON: Jason, how does Port-au-Prince look three years afterwards?

BEAUBIEN: What's sort of interesting, having been here before the earthquake, is that in many ways it looks very similar to before the quake. They are just people going about their daily lives, doing business out on the streets, selling things along the roadways. The traffic is actually much worse now because a lot of people have moved further out, and so people are moving farther each day. So there's even more of a grind for the traffic.

But it is bustling, still very poor. What strikes me the most however is that it looks very much like it did before the quake.

SIMON: NPR's Jason Beaubien speaking with us from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Thanks so much, Jason.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.