What connects Haiti President Michel Martelly, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer and fashion designer Donna Karan? The four were interviewed on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on September 21 in a segment focusing on rebuilding Haiti following the massive January 2010 earthquake.
President Kagame outlined some lessons his country learned as it worked to rebuild following the 1994 genocide. "The most important thing is to have national ownership and make sure there is coordination of the kinds of very well-intended efforts to try and help," said President Kagame. "If not coordinated, you may have a lot of help coming in or promised, but not result into any tangible results."
And Haiti is listening. "The Rwanda model is a model we're following closely," said President Martelly.
Dr. Paul Farmer, who also serves as UN Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti, added that the efforts of NGOs can only go so far -- strengthening public systems is vital. "You can't rebuild municipal water systems with NGOs, as well intentioned as they might be," said Dr. Farmer. "[PIH] is very well intentioned in Haiti and in Rwanda, but we can't replace the government."
Donna Karan added that her foundation Urban Zen's "Hope, Help and Rebuild Haiti" project is one example how NGO's can help inspire and empower local efforts.
As PIH has extensive experience working with both governments in Haiti and Rwanda, Dr. Farmer supports a "south-south" collaboration. Even before the earthquake, the two countries had begun to lay the foundation for a partnership based on robust responses to common challenges, including poverty. During the CNN segment, Dr. Farmer mentioned the Haiti-Rwanda Commission, which was formed in response to the earthquake to expand the partnerships already existing between the two countries and harness the lessons from the Rwandan experience in Haiti’s rebuilding process. Stay tuned for more information about this collaboration.