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From the NY Times:

Even as outsiders feel sympathy for Haiti’s suffering, they tend to look upon it as a country beyond saving.

Now there is a plan to do just that, and it is surprisingly convincing. The lucid, far-reaching reconstruction guidelines that the Haitian government is scheduled to unveil on Wednesday at a donors’ conference at the United Nations should give all who care about Haiti’s future cause for hope.

Prepared by a group of urban planners from the Haitian government agency responsible for the country’s development, the plan is built around a bold central idea: to redistribute large parts of the population of Port-au-Prince to smaller Haitian cities, many of them at a safe distance from areas most vulnerable to natural disaster. In the process the plan would completely transform Haiti from a country dominated by a single metropolis to what the planners call a network of smaller urban “growth poles.”

GALLERY: Haitian Earthquake

The guidelines are still in a nascent stage, and Haiti’s fate will ultimately have a lot to do with economic and political developments beyond the scope of planners. But the guidelines already surpass any of the early reconstruction plans for post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans or for the parts of Asia affected by the tsunami in 2004. The guidelines’ well-reasoned thinking about environmental threats and the history of urban development in Haiti suggests that they could become a reliable blueprint not just for reconstruction, but also for solving many of the urban ills that have plagued the country for decades.

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