Helping Haiti

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Ayiti tomorrow

Other researchers from Columbia’s Earth Institute have been in Haiti for about two years creating a comprehensive plan to lift the Caribbean nation out of poverty. Their work is part of the UN Development Program’s Millennium Villages Project, which was developed by Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs.

Ayman S. Yassa, an emergency medical physician working toward his master’s in public health at the Mailman School, treats a Haitian woman about a week after the earthquake.Tatiana Wah, an expert on the economic development in poor countries, oversees the Earth Institute’s work in Haiti, which involves reducing poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. Speaking from Port-au-Prince a month after the earthquake, Wah said, “Now we have to deal not just with development, but with the most basic services.” She said construction, recovery, and development must be integrated so that transitions are smooth. “The city has to be completely rebuilt.”

Ultimately, public health experts at Columbia hope that international relief efforts will help Haitians make long-term improvements to their lives. Similarly, Indonesia was able to capitalize on international aid in order to build public health infrastructures that are better than before the 2004 tsunami, according to Boothby.

“Mistakes were made in Aceh, Indonesia,” he says. “But today Aceh is a better place to live. I hope we can say the same for Haiti some years from now.”

Cindy Rodríguez

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