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Six months after the Haiti earthquake, what progress?

Six months after the 7.0 Haiti earthquake caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times, the worse-case scenarios have been avoided. Yet tens of thousands still live in camps.

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Challenges ahead

But enormous challenges remain, and housing sits at the top of the priority list.

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Only a fraction of Haitians have been resettled into permanent housing, which is causing frustration to mount.

“Six months on, we need to be looking at recovery, where people can settle into a secure home, have a job, send their kids to school, and have a community around them,” says Julie Schindall, the spokesperson for Oxfam who has been in Port-au-Prince since March. “When I go to camps, and I ask, 'How are you doing?' People say 'We are OK, we have water, we have toilets, there is a clinic nearby,' but they ask me, 'When will we get to leave this camp?' ”

While Ms. Schindall says comprehensive resettlement is not a realistic goal six months on, plans to implement strategies are – and so far there are few that indicate implementation on a meaningful scale.

Inefficiency, bureaucracy hamper efforts

For too many observers, the recovery effort has been slower than necessary, hampered by inefficiency and bureaucracy, and many Haitians say they feel abandoned by their government six months on. Oberson Saint Vik finds relief from the heat under a blue tarp on a recent day in Champs de Mars. Like many residents here, he used to live in Bel Aire, one of Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods. He had no idea that a ceremony was underway across the street.

“The government never tells us anything,” he says. “It’s going to take ages before something changes. I don’t know how long.”

Children lined up for a food distribution, which many in the camp say they suspect was a media opportunity because of the government ceremony next door.

Fifteen-year-old Marie Anne Tanis was holding a plastic box with an apple, a piece of bread, and a yogurt. She was accompanied by baby cousins in their best clothes but barefoot. She shares a hut with her parents and 12 cousins and siblings. “Thank God today is a special day, they gave us food and even clothes,” she says. “But they don’t usually do that, and I don’t think they will be there tomorrow.”

The strength of the Haitian people was hailed Monday, including by actor Sean Penn, who has been on the ground participating in the massive recovery effort

"We came down with the idea of spending about two weeks and trying to help out," Mr. Penn told CBS Monday. "And there's something that takes over and it's really an obligation, because you see the strength of the people who have never experienced comfort."

But he also reportedly criticized the media for losing interest in the story, as have many donors the world over.

The US Center for Strategic and International Studies calculated Monday that just 2 percent of $5.3 billion promised in near-term aid by governments at a UN conference in March, or about $50 million, has actually been delivered to the ravaged country.

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