To: Secretary-General Ki-moon From: 7774; Thomson Re: Haiti relief money desperately needs to be put towards improving smaller cities Date: 4/8/10 Haiti needs to experience the relief being sent to the country as soon as possible. The best way to distribute this relief—in this case funds—is through rural development. Instead of immediately rebuilding the capital city, Port-au-Prince, Haitian officials need to realize the importance of decentralizing the city’s population. Continued expansion of the capital will only lead to further catastrophes in the future. If rural cities can be significantly ameliorated, Haiti’s future may not be as bleak. The current situation in Haiti is deplorable and must be amended promptly Although nearly three months separate the earthquake from today, Haiti is still currently in a state of unrest. Roughly 600,000 native Port-au-Prince Haitians have been displaced and have nowhere to go. They have found refuge in small neighboring cities, most of them lodging with family. These cities are in no position to accommodate this large of an increase in population. The increase in citizens has caused even more poverty throughout the country, thanks to a lack of food, housing, sanitation, schooling, and healthcare. This leads to even more death. People who are still injured from the earthquake may not be receiving adequate care and may die as a result. The only positive that can be taken from this situation is that it highlights the necessary steps that need to happen in these cities. The strains each small city is facing right now are the sources of improvement for the future. If people return to Port-au-Prince and the city’s population continues to grow, even larger problems will arise in the future If the displaced population of Haitians were to return to the capital city, the poverty level would rise dramatically. In addition to this, the necessary improvements to the city to make it less prone to massive catastrophes will not occur due to the presence of more citizens. The heightened population and population density and high level of poverty will make Port-au-Prince extremely vulnerable. The next natural disaster to hit Haiti will be far worse as a result of this. All of the necessary changes that need to take place in the smaller cities also will not occur if this group of Haitians returns to Port-au-Prince. Couple all of these issues with the expected increase of 3,000,000 Haitians within the next 15 years and the chance for catastrophic repercussions drastically increases. Haiti’s particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and poverty Haiti is especially vulnerable to natural disasters thanks to many unfortunate reasons. These reasons include: being situated in the hurricane track, issues with tectonics, environmental degradation, and poverty. While the natural causes are obviously harmful, the social impact of these natural disasters are far more difficult to measure and remedy. Problems with deforestation, unstable governments, poor building standards, and low literacy rates all plague Haiti’s progress. Disaster after disaster greatly affects the country and makes the goal of eliminating poverty nearly impossible. The potential changes to smaller cities will have far-reaching benefits The smaller Haitian cities could be developed if new buildings were built. These would include schools and hospitals. If these were created, economic incentive would exist for people to stay in small cities, the literacy rate and mortality rate would be improved, and citizens would potentially leave Port-au-Prince to come to these cities. This would minimize the number of people returning to the capital, which would allow the city to improve its zoning regulations, possibly develop a light rail system, and create desperately needed public spaces. Another benefit of having relief money go towards smaller cities is that with increased populations, small cities may be able to resuscitate the agricultural economy. This would make food more readily available and would significantly improve poverty. Probability tree supports idea to decentralize Haiti’s population Choosing to decentralize Haiti’s population would lead to many more benefits, as the probability tree points out. If the decision to rebuild Port-au-Prince came to fruition, several unforeseen outcomes would result. The current level of poverty, construction of new buildings, return of 600,000 citizens, and expected growth of 3,000,000 citizens would all be negatively impacted if another disaster were to occur. Problems would still arise if the decision to decentralize the population was chosen, but not as severely. The main advantage of decentralization is that it spreads out the country’s citizens and doesn’t limit resources. By rebuilding Port-au-Prince to the metropolis it once was only serves to position itself for an even greater downfall in the future. Decentralizing and improving smaller cities gives the country options and will eventually allow for a less susceptible nation. Unforeseen consequences limit the model Although the intended benefits appear to be obtainable, there is no sure way of knowing that they would materialize. Despite the evidence supporting decentralizing the population to smaller cities, problems could potentially arise. One potential problem with decentralizing the population is that it makes it harder to deliver relief. Although it is pernicious to have the majority of the population in Port-au-Prince, it makes help efforts more concentrated and subsequently easier. Alternative solutions, which may involve focusing all rebuilding efforts on Port-au-Prince, may also surface. These solutions may be better than any of the current ones involving the development of smaller cities and Haitian officials, as well as the UN, may support these plans instead.