Nina Lakhani described the suffering of the Haitian people as a "festering global scandal" ("Haiti: One year on", 9 January). We in Haiti have been festering for years but no one, until now, has heeded our cries. As a Haitian and an aid worker, I know there is so much more that needs to be done to alleviate the frustrations of survivors still living in tents. But we must not lose sight of the real crisis in Haiti: not the movement of the earth that exposed the country's deep-rooted problems of unequal land distribution, an unregulated land tenure system, non-existent governance and continued violation of basic human rights.
In the aftermath of my country's worst natural disaster in centuries, these remain obstacles to progress. The work of NGOs on the ground has been vital – saving lives, rebuilding lives and livelihoods. International attention descended on Haiti to mark one year, but will you be with us in two, three, five years' time? If the international community wants to pick up the pieces and truly "build back better", it should start by ensuring that Haitians have a role in the reconstruction of their country.
Marie Josette Delorome-Pierre
Haiti programme officer, CAFOD
The deprivation of sleep in young children has concerned me for some time ("Modern life is slowing us down", 9 January). As a childminder, I have to be available by 7am for the arrival of the first child of the day. From toddlerhood, children of working parents who commute must function on very little sleep. Once a child reaches the age of two, they are old enough to attend preschool, where many are unable to access adequate sleeping facilities during the day. This option is usually chosen as it is cheaper than childminding or a nursery. Thus, very young children are woken at around 6am, and have no nap until they are picked up by their parents at 6pm or later. As parents have not had any chance to play with their children, they are often kept up until even later before being put to bed. These children cannot even recharge their batteries during extended school holidays: parents, with only four or five weeks' holiday a year, still wake their children early during the holidays.
I am convinced that much "hyperactivity" in toddlers and young school-aged children is caused by sleep deprivation. However good preschool or school teaching is, a tired child will not learn. The ethic of care seems to have been lost for children, being replaced by nothing but education, education, education.
Am I alone in seeing bonuses as a malodorous insanity, politicians pleading with financial institutions for restraint in their various emoluments while the rest of the population are told to make sacrifices? No bonuses should go to executives and employees working in those banking institutions rescued from collapse by taxpayers' money: they have a massive debt which must be paid before any profit can be creamed off in rewards.
Mark Buckingham, of Monsanto UK, denies implication of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) cotton in suicides by Indian farmers (Letters, 9 January). In fact, suicides in India rose sharply after GM crops were introduced. Crop failure, and consequent farmer suicides, arose from drought, doubled water uptake compared to traditional seeds, and attacks by bollworm, a pest the genetic modification of Monsanto's GM Bollgard cotton is intended to control. Saving GM seeds to plant the following season is forbidden under threat of heavy penalties; with traditional crops, saving seeds reduces annual expenses and helps compensate for crop failures. In a three-year study, non-GM cotton outperformed Monsanto's Bollgard, with higher yields, less expense, almost no pesticide use, higher earnings and continuing soil fertility. The answer to India's problems lies in a return to small-scale farming methods enhanced by modern knowledge of ecological farming. With higher yields and little or no input expenditure, farmers have lifted themselves from poverty to enjoy a better future.
Dr Eva Novotny
While I wholeheartedly agree with the progress Sudan is making to establish a new nation, I can't help but feel apprehensive ("Sudanese vote to create a new nation", 9 January). How is this new boundary to be justified and universally accepted? Whether it is by delimitation or demarcation, I am holding my breath for yet more conflict, conflict our world could really do without.
Sarah Ellen Tupper
Newcastle upon Tyne
Cyclists should do everything to protect themselves on the road with fluorescent clothing and adequate lights ("Cyclists 'left unprotected by police and courts'", 9 January). Then "I didn't see the cyclist" would not be accepted in court. If a motorist "can't see" a lit cyclist in a hi-viz jacket, they shouldn't be driving at all.
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