Is Donor-Driven Funding Haiti’s Solution?

Did Haiti just get the help it needs from an innovative startup?

In January of 2010, the ground in Haiti rumbled with the force of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake caused horrific devastation, leveling homes and destroying local economies. Foreign countries and NGO’s responded with massive investments of aid. But an article published by TIME magazine last year shows that the capital city of Port-au-Prince is unfortunately still struggling after five years of recovery.


Right now, more than 60,000 people still live in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), mostly within the vicinity of Port-au-Prince. While some people might be managing to eke out a living within the camps, it’s a poor situation for public health. Cholera has proliferated in Haiti since the earthquake happened, due to bad sanitation conditions (the disease is waterborne). While the initial outbreak might have been contained under different circumstances, the ongoing IDP crisis means that cholera has established a strong foothold. New research suggests that the disease may now have become endemic to the country. So it seems that there is still a long ways to go before Haiti is stable and thriving.

This is the scene that startup nonprofit New Story entered into when it decided to take a radical approach toward getting IDP Haitians rehoused. In a traditional nonprofit model, donors often give money and the organization they give to decides how to best allocate those funds. New Story is instead showing their donors exactly what the need is and just where their dollars go. All of an individual’s donations go toward building a house for a family of their choosing, and the donor can later watch a video of their family moving into the new home. Using this model, New Story housed 1,200 people in just under a year, a result that some argue bigger organizations haven’t been able to achieve.

When a place like Haiti has seen so much destruction and despair it’s easy to look to a shiny, promising new approach as the ultimate solution. But one successful trial might not necessarily mean that we have the answer. It’ll be important to see if the housing works out for former-IDPs in the long run and if donors will continue to fund the approach once it too becomes an old method. Additionally, it raises questions about who gets to make decisions. Should donors be allowed only to fund the families they like the best or see as the most needy? What about someone who doesn’t seem so compelling on video and still needs a home just as badly?

While there are questions, New Story’s approach is certainly getting many people housed, and that deserves an applause. Time will tell how many people it can work for and how the organization’s efforts fit into the broader vision for Haiti’s reconstruction and resettlement.

Image: Chip Somodevilla / Staff via Getty Images

 

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less