No place was more devastated by Hurricane Matthew than Haiti. That was no surprise. It’s the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, with barely functioning infrastructure, and it took a direct hit from the massive storm.
Haiti went through this misery after the earthquake in 2010. The world rallied to that disaster, but its response was a mess. Many donations went to organizations with huge overhead costs. Some promises were never met. Money was misspent, some projects were never started, and others were never finished. The Red Cross collected $500 million, but an investigation failed to find out how the money was spent. And UN troops sent in after the earthquake brought cholera with them; nearly 10,000 Haitians have died and the epidemic now could get worse. The world has to do better this time.
Matthew destroyed homes and buildings, and obliterated roads and villages. Food and clean water are in short supply, more than 1,000 people likely are dead, 175,000 are in shelters, and some 750,000 in the hardest-hit southwest region will need lifesaving help for the next three months, according to the UN. The flow of aid must be better organized and must reach Haiti for the benefit of Haitians. If you want to donate, research carefully to find an effective charity.
And when Haiti’s short-term needs are met, the nations of the world must tackle the really difficult work of making permanent improvements. That means real houses, not tin shacks. It means effective water treatment and sanitation systems. It means good roads, good schools and good jobs. It means giving a break to a country that never seems to get one. — The editorial board