Help that hurts: An interview with Tim Schwartz about Haiti

Follow this interview here:

Tim Schwartz answers these questions:
1.Justin Podur (JP): One of the themes of Travesty in Haiti is that the international ‘help’ that is going to Haiti isn’t really helping. The starkest example for me was the food program, in which food was delivered only when it wasn’t needed. Can you explain that a little bit, how you came to find out about it, and what happened when you tried to tell people about it? And is it still the case today?

2.JP: You went to Haiti after the earthquake, and came up with an idea to use local taxis for transport, which you wrote about somewhat self-deprecatingly in your chapter in Paul Farmer’s Haiti After the Earthquake. But a structural problem made it impossible for your idea to be used, a structural problem that is illustrative. Can you talk a bit about that problem?

3.JP: You have been involved with Haiti for a long time, through different administrations, coups, and now with MINUSTAH. The issues of international aid, charities, orphanages, and missions persist regardless of the political changes – but maybe there have been some differences? How would you characterize things in the 1990s compared to today? Would you say there were different phases? Have there been any changes, for good or ill, to the situations you described in Travesty?

4.JP: Can you give some examples about where aid money goes and where it ends up?

5.JP: Who would you say is principally responsible for this situation? Is it the donor governments? The agencies? Or the NGOs that use the funds?

6. JP: At the end of Travesty, you propose a mechanism to try to bring some transparency and accountability to the work that NGOs are doing in Haiti. Has there been any progress on this front? Would you propose any changes to that mechanism a couple of years later?

7. JP: Do you think that the aid industry does more harm than good, on balance?

8. JP: I heard you are working on another book. Can you give us a sneak preview?


About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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