News / Americas

Exodus From Haitian Capital Might be a Good Thing

Devastating quake could spark economic resurgence

Port-au-Prince residents board a bus to leave the capital city for safer rural areas in Haiti
Port-au-Prince residents board a bus to leave the capital city for safer rural areas in Haiti

Multimedia

Audio

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are surviving on emergency food aid after last month's devastating earthquake in a nation that was already struggling to feed its people. But some food policy experts believe the disaster could eventually lead to Haiti's economic resurgence.  

Less than two years ago, riots broke out in Haiti when the price of food staples skyrocketed. It was the latest illustration of the island nation's long-running problems with food security. U.N. estimates going back to 1990 consistently show that more than half the population is undernourished.

The earthquake dealt another blow to the country's ability to feed itself. Irrigation systems, food processing plants and storage facilities in quake-affected rural areas have suffered damage. That's in addition to the devastation in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Destruction that will have ripple effects throughout the small country, according to Cristina Amaral, chief of emergency operations for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"The economic center, that was Port-au-Prince. The port, all the transportation network, the market chain and all the supply chain in the country has been completely disrupted," says Amaral.

Exodus to the countryside

Thousands are now fleeing Port-au-Prince for the countryside. Marie Ruel of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), says that could worsen Haiti's hunger problems. "In the short term, it puts a burden on people in the countryside to feed the more mouths that are coming, with them not having any more resource[s]," she says.

In the long term, however, some experts say the exodus from Port-au-Prince might be a good thing. The capital was overcrowded and could not support all the people who had been drawn there looking for work. The FAO's Cristina Amaral says coordinated efforts to support the new arrivals in the countryside would be a wise investment.  

"It will be certainly faster to improve the absorption capacity of the rural areas so the Haitians who have not suffered the earthquake could help their country-fellows to get some work in agriculture, to start to do food production," she says.

Opportunity in crisis

Amaral says a Haitian economic renaissance could start in these rural areas. She suggests beginning with an agricultural development program that puts people to work improving irrigation and possibly planting trees in the denuded countryside.

IFPRI's Marie Ruel would like to see Haiti's dismal road infrastructure improved. She says the earthquake actually presents Haiti with an opportunity. "Maybe with all the attention that Haiti has gotten now, if we can maintain that, maybe there will be some reconstruction efforts that will make things much better."

Before reconstruction begins in earnest, though, experts say the priority in the next few weeks will be to help supply Haitian farmers with seeds, fertilizers and tools for the March planting season. The FAO's Cristina Amaral would like to see food distribution centers give people seeds and equipment for simple backyard vegetable gardens.

Besides providing fresh wholesome food, watching a garden bloom could give Haitians some much-needed hope in desperate times, says Amaral.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US Agriculture Delegation Visits Cuba, Protests Embargo

Delegation began three days of meetings Monday, hoping to find potential business partners, while urging Congress to lift embargo on trade with the island
More

Venezuela Tells US to Downsize Embassy Staff

President Nicolas Maduro claimed Saturday that Venezuela has detained American spies
More

Fidel Castro Finally Meets 'Cuban Five,' Spies Turned Heroes

Spies returned home as heroes after serving long prison terms in US, 73 days after last of them were freed in prisoner swap
More

Vazquez Sworn in as Uruguay President

Oncologist, 75, previously held presidency from 2005-2010; he takes leadership role from highly popular Jose Mujica, also of Broad Front Coalition
More

Venezuela: Arrested US Pilot Was Spying

Nicolas Maduro says American was caught with 'documentation'; US Embassy offers no comment
More

Video US, Cuba Make Progress in Restoring Diplomatic Ties

Friday's session focuses solely on opening embassies in Washington and Havana as quickly as possible
More