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Haiti: Escaping the Crisis Trap

Four years after a devastating earthquake, the reconstruction of Haiti remains far from completion. Although billions of dollars in aid have flowed into the country, Haitians feel the outcomes have not matched the promises made. This paper analyzes the issues underlying the failures of the international aid system in Haiti and argues that Haiti should be viewed through an “opportunity lens” in order to identify the assets and potential on which to build a successful future. We identify reforms to build institutions, foster economic opportunity, and transition away from aid. We recommend the organization of a national conversation with the potential to create a consensus for building institutions that will endure beyond any single elected government or charismatic leader.