No power, no fuel, and little water: darkness is everywhere, the public is deeply distrustful, and the only people making a living are those who walk around town flaunting big guns often accompanied by a huge entourage.
Mario Joseph is Haiti's most influential and respected human rights attorney. Since 1996, he has led the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, which uses prominent human rights cases and a victim-centered approach in the interest of the poor majority.
Initiatives like this are desperately needed in our troubled times, but at the same time they should be promoting a change in a paradigm that has been tragically unsuccessful. It is time for self-assessment and constructive criticism.
Afterwards we forget all about it, like we do after throwing a dollar in a homeless person's cup, walking away with pride, having temporarily silenced our inner voice. No questions are asked if the donated money finally reaches what it is meant for and in what way.
The international humanitarian response system will fail to cope with the expected rise in the number of people exposed to crises unless there are more resources closer to where disasters happen and there is more investment in preventing and reducing the risk of disasters.
With official development assistance representing a much smaller share of the resources flowing into developing countries, we have to think differently about how we use it. We need to shift our approach and our thinking from aid to investment.
If in the last few years you got out your checkbook or credit card and donated to help rebuild Haiti, rescue Pakistanis from floods or fund a school in Tanzania, your contribution did not make its way into global aid figures.
The reality now is that civil wars do not remain quarantined within national borders. And that forced migration is not an accidental byproduct of war. Many combatants use the forced movement of people as an intentional war strategy.
The beauty is that stories do not have to fill a financial need. There are many talented people and storytellers out there but they are not being adequately accessed. The problem is a matter of incentives.