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NPRPlanet Money

Haiti: The Aid Dilemma

Here's the third in a series of ongoing FRONTLINE reports on Haiti with correspondent Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money.

children in africa playing on a play pumpAlso on FRONTLINE/WorldTroubled Water FRONTLINE/World investigates one of its own stories, The Play Pump, which promised to use a merry-go-round and the power of children to help meet the dire need for fresh water in southern Africa. (Watch Now »)
Q & A With Adam Davidsonco-founder, co-host NPR's Planet Money 90There are two Q & As: First, Davidson took an hour on June 29th to answer viewers' questions -- take a look and add your own comments. In addition, FRONTLINE/World's producers asked Davidson about how Haitians are faring today, five months after the quake, and how food aid policies have played out in other poor countries.
Teacher’s Guide Educators can explore this topic further through classroom activities that examine post-quake disruptions to supply and demand in Haiti’s rice industry.
REPORTS FROM HAITI

The Aid Dilemma
Davidson examines an intriguing new idea in post-disaster relief.

The Economy of a Tent City
Just 10 weeks after the quake, Davidson finds a rich, complex economy sprouting in Port-au-Prince's temporary settlements.

Solving the Tap-Tap Puzzle
Davidson explores the artistry -- and economic theory -- behind Haitians' cheap, wildly decorated buses.

INTRODUCTION

In the aftermath of January's devastating earthquake in Haiti, post-disaster relief is creating a new kind of problem for businesses there. The massive influx of food aid has altered the price of rice, throwing the delicate balance in Haiti's food supply chain out of whack and threatening to collapse the country's rice market. It's the kind of problem that can turn a one-time disaster into a crisis that lasts years.

But international aid organizations like the U.N.'s World Food Programme are trying out a new method of delivering relief that they hope will avoid that problem.

"It's a simple idea," says reporter Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money. "If people are hungry, don't give them rice. Give them money to buy rice, or vouchers that amount to the same thing. That way, instead of destroying [local] business, you strengthen it."

But as Davidson and producer Travis Fox discover in their story The Aid Dilemma -- part of a unique and ongoing partnership between NPR and FRONTLINE -- a simple idea can quickly turn complicated.

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posted june 25, 2010

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