The normally bustling streets of Haiti's capital fell silent on Wednesday, as Haitians stopped to commemorate the anniversary of last year's devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which, according to new government estimates, killed more than 316,000 people. There has been some progress — about 690,000 of those citizens whose homes were destroyed have been moved into new housing. But at least 810,000 remain in the hundreds of tent cities that appeared in the disaster's aftermath, and much of the billions in promised foreign aid has yet to arrive. (Watch a New York Times report about Haiti's recovery.) Why has rebuilding been so slow? Here, three theories:
No one has picked up the rubble: Walk through the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the reason Haiti has yet to truly begin to "reinvent itself" is plain, says Tim Padgett in Time. Only 5 percent of the heavy debris left by the quake has been hauled away. "Nothing can really be done," says Leslie Voltaire, an urban architect and presidential candidate, "until the rubble is removed."
"Haiti's quake, one year later: It's the rubble, stupid!"
A marred election hobbled the government: "Haitians need a legitimate government" to handle the political issues of rebuilding and to ensure investors and donors that their money won't be wasted, say the editors of The Economist. That's why the country's presidential election, though "distracting," is crucial. But, after widespread irregularities in the first round of voting, election officials announced a February run-off that includes President Rene Preval's "unpopular" hand-picked successor, but excludes Michel Martelly, a popular musician. Now the vote is just "another setback."
"The year of surviving in squalor"
Most of the money is not being put to use: The money to help Haiti rebuild is there — it's just not being spent, say the editors of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Charities have collected $1.4 billion from "generous American donors," but, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, only 38 percent has been spent to help Haiti rebound. "Slowness of spending is understandable in a country rife with corruption and disorder. But with so many people in dire need, agencies cannot justify sitting on so much money."
"Haiti's eternally stalled recovery"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- Hey, scolds: Stop telling us to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving
Subscribe to the Week