Port au Prince, Haiti, has no problem attracting people. It’s the jobs that don’t follow


happiness1Here’s an interesting dilemma thrown up by Oklahoma City mayor Mike Cornett’s prescription for urban wellbeing: If, as he says, “jobs go where the people are”, what do you do about overpopulated, under-resourced cities like Port au Prince?

Home to 3.5 million people – a little over a third of Haiti’s population – Port au Prince seems to have no problem drawing people into its heaving heart. It’s the jobs that don’t follow.

When he wore multiple hats (before the recent cabinet reshuffle) Haiti’s Minister of Trade and Industry Wilson Laleau told me it was imperative for the focus to move away from Port au Prince – as a jobs centre; as a hub of opportunity; as the place to live.

The unsustainable focus on Port au Prince made it none of these things, he said. And difficult to rebuild.

There’s a great truth in there. But little sign of it happening, despite the expensive American attempt to flood the north of the country with jobs through the Caracol industrial park.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac