Weathering the storm: contesting disaster governance after Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

  • Melis S
  • Jean M
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As a disaster unfolds, survivors’ experiences, actions and motives often become overshadowed by the humanitarian response. This is especially the case in contexts where the national state and international organizations are seen to perpetuate (colonial) power structures. This article is based on 4 months of fieldwork in Haiti, where the authors conducted interviews and focus group discussions with people affected by Hurricane Matthew and with a variety of state officials and humanitarian response actors in Port-au-Prince, Jérémie, Les Cayes and Dame Marie. This study aimed to understand the role and power of societal actors in a context where there is a strong disarticulation between the state and society. The findings show that state–society tensions have been intensified in the response, leading to the politicization of aid and limiting the inclusion of affected communities in disaster governance. In this context, society-based actors negotiate the conditions of aid through resistance and solidarity, with strategies ranging from public protests to everyday resistance and from social networks to alternative aid structures. The article argues that disarticulation between society and the state needs to be addressed to make a more locally led response possible.




Melis, S., & Jean, M. (2021). Weathering the storm: contesting disaster governance after Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 6(1).

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