Over half a decade has passed since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and while relief has come in many forms from all corners of the globe, the country still suffers the effects of the tragedy that occurred that year on January 12th. With a magnitude of 7.0, the earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions from their homes. An already impoverished country, Haiti was one of the last places in the world capable to handle a natural disaster of this degree and yet, here we stand -- proudly. A nation that continues to struggle is also a nation that continues to persevere.
Before the earthquake, Haiti was already in a precarious socio-economic state, with well over half of the population at or below the poverty level (86 percent of people in the capital of Port-au-Prince were living in slum-like conditions) and living on less than U.S. $2 per day. This natural disaster only brought with it more struggles, more pain -- like kicking a man while he's down. To say it has been difficult to come back from this is an understatement.
On January 13th, 2010 -- the day after Haiti changed forever -- the world came together for our country, not only to grieve, but to help. Although these relief efforts have been extensive and will always be considered as a testament of global solidarity with the people of Haiti, the country continues to grapple with many obstacles. While the aftershocks of the earthquake are long gone, they can still be felt in the form of poverty and economic insecurity. Although much progress has been made by relocating the majority of families who had become homeless, some have yet to recover from this psychological and socio-economic trauma.
It's difficult enough for affluent countries like the United States to go through natural disasters such as tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes on the East Coast, but it's nearly impossible for emerging and developing countries with fragile infrastructures to fully recover. If these vulnerable countries could develop sustainable, socio-economic systems that address socio-economic challenges, they would be better able to withstand the devastating aftermath of tragedies like the one suffered in Haiti.
I have dedicated my my life's work to the socio-economic empowerment of Haiti -- and of all emerging and developing countries. It has become clear to me that struggling countries must find alternative sources of financing or fall short of achieving social and economic progress. We need to help the governments of countries like Haiti to achieve their goals by thinking outside the box of traditional foreign aid. We need to help them to identify new revenue sources through innovative financing for development: non-traditional mechanisms to raise funds for aid through projects such as micro-contributions and public-private partnerships. Using these mechanisms, governments can then allocate funds according to their priorities and needs, such as clean water, housing, education and health services. This way, if disaster strikes, they would be better apt to withstand such shock, and any aid received would have a greater impact. Recovery would be within their reach.
This is only one solution to a much bigger problem, but it is just that -- a solution. As a global community, we must ensure that vulnerable countries will be better equipped to climb out of the rubble -- whether that rubble is in the form of the aftermath of a natural disaster, war, disease or economic crisis -- faster and better than ever. As citizens of the world, we must come together to ensure that what happened to my country, the way it happened, never occurs again. We just need to start.