A world shaken

Disaster response in Haiti presents a long challenge ahead.

Last weekâÄôs 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti has unfolded into a human tragedy of rare proportion. Tens of thousands are dead, and though the already impoverished nationâÄôs infrastructure was all but erased by the quake, a vast and complex relief effort is slowly mobilizing. The influx of funds has not been lacking so far; the United Nations estimates that over half a billion dollars has been raised to date, thanks in significant part to growing digital interconnectivity. Text messages and relief Web sites have made donations quicker and easier than ever before, though scams have proliferated, with the FBI issuing a statement last Thursday urging âÄúdue diligenceâÄù in assessing potential charities and requests for financial aid. Governments, NGOs, corporations and private citizens have come together admirably in the relief effort, though coordination has been a major problem amid a clear vacuum of leadership. It is generally agreed upon that the government is corrupt and ineffectual even in the best of times. While the focus of current relief work is naturally on meeting the basic human needs of Haitian people, the future of the devastated country looms darkly on the horizon. Those who would provide aid are faced not merely with a question of re-establishing stability in Haiti but of establishing it for the first time. Despite all that was lost in the quake itself, the real scope of HaitiâÄôs tragedy will be determined in the months to come. Bereft not only of food and water but also of government and infrastructure, the Haitian people now rely on the unwavering, long-term commitment and coordination of the global community to build a future for their nation.