Last night, we read an article titled “The Underlying Tragedy”, by David Brooks. This article explained the rebuilding process from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, but with a unique perspective. He argued that the true reason why Haiti experienced so much damage is because of its poverty. The infrastructure is poor, and the public services are nothing to brag about. The logical solution would be for the United States to provide aid; however, Brooks explains that we do not yet understand how to properly intervene with poverty-stricken countries.2 While we should be focusing on macro-aid with the Haitian government, we tend to help with smaller projects that might not make as much of a difference as expected.2 He also offers that the culture in Haiti may restricts the nationwide desire for progress and economic stability.2
In the New York Times, I visited an article that describes the Mankhut Typhoon that struck the Philippines and is currently en route to southern China. In the Benguet Province, there have been 59 people known dead so far, but the number is likely higher.1 In a fishing town called Aparri, almost 50% of the houses were destroyed.1 Unemployment reaches 30% in the area, while 80% of residents are considered poor.1 It is doubtful that relief will be easily funded.
Is the main reason for excessive damage in countries affected by natural disasters because of poverty? If so, how can we provide aid in a way that reduces poverty as it source, so that in the case of a future typhoon, the Philippines might experience less repercussions?
The Philippines is a developing country, with a GDP of only 304.9 billion. So, poverty could be a potential cause of the damage in the Philippines. Although David Brooks might be able to draw this conclusion in Haiti (because it happened a while ago), we cannot yet assume that the Philippines’ poverty is the main reason for the amount of damage. We will need to gather evidence over time, and draw comparisons in order to reach a conclusion like this. Although Brook’s article is well written, it is an opinion piece, meaning that his point of view alone cannot be taken as evidence. However, if evidence does surface over time, we might need to find a way to aid the country in a way that will be beneficial in the long term.
1Hannah Beech, “At Typhoon’s Eye in Philippines, Whipping Debris and Fervent Prayers” The New York Times (September 16th, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/16/world/asia/philippines-typhoon.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront
2 David Brooks, “The Underlying Tragedy” New York Times (2010) https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8KyqBua-Z_sUWE1MjdWT2dLR2prejFGWjBXWURzRVpaRzRz/view