Should Humanitarianism be questioned? Post-earthquake Haiti as a case study

By Mariana San Martín

This paper focuses on humanitarian aid sent to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. It proposes alternative paths for approaching humanitarianism to better achieve lasting impact. Looking specifically at the relationship between aid agencies and donors, the paper will examine agency-donor dynamics by exploring the actions of humanitarian agencies in Haiti’s post-earthquake environment. While humanitarian aid in Haiti has come under criticism for creating a ‘Republic of NGOs’, there is an opportunity to leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) that can play a core role in facilitating greater transparency and accountability while improving coordination and cooperation among actors. There is a wide scope of new possibilities for humanitarian action to act accordingly with its aims, benefiting the whole field from the global transparency that humanitarian aid can achieve.

About the Author:
Mariana San Martín is a sociologist from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and finished an MA in International Relations as an exchange student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and full-time candidate at Universidad Torcuata Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina (pending dissertation). The thesis in process is regarding the use of ICTs for development, international cooperation and humanitarian aid in Haiti, in the aftermath of the earthquake. She is Vice-president of Sociologists Without Borders Latin America, has worked at the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights in Argentina, was a researcher and teacher at the University of Buenos Aires, conducted research for UNDP and has interned at the Peacebuilding and Development Institute, American University.

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