MIT Urban Planning professor Phil Thompson spent years working in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrine. On the eve of a years-long reconstruction process for Haiti, Professor Thompson reflects on the differences and similarities between these two places, and warns. His full article was published in The Root.
Here is a key excerpt:
From MIT’s New Orleans experience, where students and faculty worked with community groups, the city and labor unions in a myriad of projects, we learned a few lessons that should apply to Haiti:
– Well-meaning outsiders cannot be allowed to strip the country of its local capacity or ignore local knowledge.
– Local assets must be preserved, and
– Paternalistic foreign donor attitudes are best left at home.
Many responding to the Katrina crisis were determined to work “on” New Orleans rather than to work “for” New Orleans. To avoid this in Haiti, we must look closely at the motivation of aid efforts and those who fund them.
Read the full article.