I visited Haiti just before Christmas with Nik Win Myint from the WDR team. I talked to community groups in some of the slums that have been most ravaged by drugs and gang-related violence--Cite de Soleil, Martissant, Bel-air.
The people I met had great hope for the future -- after decades of a debilitating cycle of poverty, violence and state inaction, they finally felt that things were improving. The young men in the pictures here had just started their own farm for chicken eggs, funded through small grants from the government. "Security is better. The police are better. We are still worried about the future, but this is the first time the state has done something for us. People in this community just need the chance to work, to get training" they said.
Who knows how many of the people I talked to are still alive. Tens of thousands died in the earthquake, and those who survive have lost family members, their houses, their possessions, their jobs. This would have been a tragedy at any time--it is more so at a period when the country seemed to be regaining hope and some confidence in the future.
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This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on January 22, 2010.