A Four-Part Strategy For Rebuilding Haiti
Dallas (PRWEB) January 18, 2010
When you see the level of response from the U.S. and other nations to the tragic earthquake that rocked Haiti, it is hard not to feel proud about the global citizenship being displayed. That’s the opinion of Kathy Robison, a former Fortune 500 business executive and economist who was working on economic development in Haiti before the tragedy.
“The strategy and model used for rebuilding is what will seal the fate of the nine million citizens of Haiti. Despite our good intentions, the developed world does not have the best track record for helping under-developed countries gain any significant traction,” Robison writes on her latest blog at YURU, her company that counsels business and political leaders around the world.
Robison believes that this tragic earthquake has presented the world and Haiti with an opportunity to set the rebuilding of Haiti on a course that will have long term significance for its people, if we are willing to try something new and think about building sustainable economies with a new perspective.
“A number of areas will require simultaneously focus, however the underlying strategy must be to help Haitians rebuild their country with their own hands and resist the temptation to do it for them,” she writes. “This monumental task requires a top-down strategy with a bottom-up implementation plan. The rebuilding must be done in a way that unites and aligns citizens, governments, businesses, investors, and aid organizations. Without unity, there will be continued factions, hoarding, corruption, and minimal progress.”
Robison details how to achieve this in four parts.
1. A master infrastructure plan designed to connect the disparate parts of the country and support agriculture and other industries. The plan must take into account the reverse urban migration likely to occur as people return to the small towns and villages where they are from because they have no homes, no jobs and nowhere else to go. The people in the countryside are generally the poorest of the poor and supporting agriculture, tourism, and the arts industries in the countryside will provide people a means to stay and start over and allow the country to grow in a more geographically balanced way.
2. Success will require bringing in agricultural development aid in a way never seen before. When we send a disproportionate amount of food aid compared to agricultural development aid, which is the traditional strategy, we set countries up for failure instead of success. Sending only food aid feeds people, but it can also destroy what little markets do exist. Building chicken farms and other food production facilities and putting people in business so the country can build up its own markets allowing the aid to continue to churn through the economy and even increase economic activity over time. Simply handing out food produced somewhere else and brought in through outside distribution channels fills an immediate need but if not balanced with other strategies eventually also feeds the equation of poverty.
3. Businesses must be created and financially supported so they can hire local employees and begin the re-building process. Contracts must be structured with built-in profits from the rebuilding efforts that can be used to create further self-sustaining economic activity. The banking industry must be supported in a way that allows the bankers to make enough profits to stay in business and grow while providing heavily subsidized loans for building businesses and rebuilding structures. The World Bank and the IMF need to find creative ways to support industries and businesses directly as opposed to giving most funds directly to the government. When businesses begin to grow and more and more money is invested in capitalistic endeavors, the government’s revenue will grow in sustainable ways and can begin to rely less and less on foreign handouts. Local organizations like Aimer Haiti, which was formed in 2009 to deal with revitalization of the country and can help build and mentor businesses, should be working with the government, the World Bank, the IMF, the US, and investors to come up with completely new strategies.
4. Energy has been a growing issue for Haiti and is now even more critical. Electricity has never been reliable and is non-existent in many areas, but the good news is that technology has advanced enough that a country like Haiti can leap frog many of the evolutionary steps in energy that the developed world could not. It’s a matter of getting the brightest minds together, from inside and outside of Haiti, to come up with the best solutions.
“The interconnectedness of all of these major issues in Haiti is another reason that getting the overall re-building strategy right is so key to their future success,” continues Robison. “Every solution and every single effort of aid and rebuilding should be viewed as an opportunity to put Haitians in business that will create jobs.”
Robison gives the distribution of food and creation of helicopter landing sites, which is happening right now in Haiti, as an example.
“These efforts are a huge opportunity to employ people and allow them to feel a part of the solution and not a part of the problem,” she says. “There shouldn’t be such a stark line between those giving aid and those receiving aid. This is one instance of the change in thinking and the change in mindset that is needed to change the trajectory of how under-developed countries are assisted.”
Robison emphasizes that this type of re-building is not done from an office or over the phone, but by creating relationships on the ground, building businesses one at a time, and helping families one at a time.
“History has proven time and again that capitalism and the building of a significant middle class are still the best ways to bring people out of poverty,” said Robison. “Before the earthquake, one of the first billboards you saw as you were leaving the Port au Prince airport, was the large unity triangle of Aimer Haiti, which translates to “Love Haiti” in English. I hope it is still standing!”
About Kathy Robison.:
Kathy Robison spent almost two decades traveling the globe as an executive with Goldman Sachs Companies and ORIX Corporation, leading high-profile organization and restructuring projects. In 2009 she founded YURU, which counsels business and political leaders on ways to realize their full potential through creative, new business strategies.
For more information on, visit yuruinspires.com
For more information, contact Ashley Connor 972.490.0903 ext. 1451 or ashley(at)bizcompr(dot)com
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