In one of the most realistic and practical offers of long-term help I've yet seen for a devastated Haiti, Senegal is offering plots of land to Haitians who want to return to their ancestral home.

HAITIANS WHO survived the earthquake have been offered the opportunity to come back “to the land of their ancestors” by Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade.

Mr Wade told French radio he wanted Africa to make room for victims of the disaster as it was from there that many Haitians’ ancestors had originated. ...

Presidential spokesman Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye told reporters that Mr Wade had shared his plans with senior aides, and they involved offering voluntary repatriation and plots of land to any Haitian who wanted “to return to their origin”.

“Senegal is ready to offer them parcels of land – even an entire region. It all depends on how many Haitians come. If it’s just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region,” he said.

Senegal is hardly a wealthy nation, but they're in much better shape than Haiti.

In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the French franc. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2008. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy.

If I were in Haiti, I certainly would have left for somewhere, long before the recent earthquake.

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