11 December 2013

Katz on what Kristof gets wrong about aid in Haiti

The often debated topic of whether or not foreign aid has done good reappeared in this weekend’s column by Nick Kristof for the New York Times.

By featuring the story of one young girl’s struggle to go to school, Kristof shows that aid works. Even in Haiti.

Jonathan Katz, he reported from Haiti during the earthquake and cholera outbreak, saysthe argument has some major holes.

“When you consider these facts, it gets pretty difficult to argue that whatever is going on right now in Haiti—including aid—is working, and much harder to dispute the claim that “dedicated and ethical” or any other foreigners are doing harm,” wrote Katz for the Beacon Reader.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, as an example of where critics make their attacks and where he sees hope. Kristof uses the example of a Haitian-led private school called the SOPUDEP school. A total of 836 pre-K through twelve students are served by the school. Many come from low-income families who cannot always pay for tuition.

Enter foreign aid (or Exhibit A, as Kristof might say).

The school founder Rea Dol happened to have made friends with a teacher from Los Altos school in California. The students went on and raised $200,000 for SOPUDEP and its students. It all ties together with the story of a young girl named Darline who stopped going to her previous school due to high fees.

Thanks to SOPUDEP and its donors, Darline is back in school. The Haitian economy is outpacing the US, kidnappings are down, the infant mortality rate is down and the manufacturing industry is up. Because of these gains, concludes Kristof, aid works.

Also, read Katz's full piece here (paywall).