A Portrait of Louisiana


Louisiana Human Development Report 2009

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The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF) works to transform the disasters caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita into an unprecedented opportunity for Louisiana’s people. Americans and our neighbors abroad have provided financial and emotional support with the belief that their investment in Louisiana’s most precious resource – its people – would be rewarded with progress and lives made better. For this, we are eternally grateful. This global sense of community, along with Louisianans’ steadfast belief in an American dream that makes opportunity and self sufficiency accessible to all citizens, has powered the state’s recovery.

As this report is printed, LDRF and many others are commemorating the fourth anniversary of Katrina, honoring lives lost, celebrating accomplishments, and holding out great promise for the future. As I reflect on the loss of my home and irreplaceable family treasures, I am newly reminded of the sometimes weary, yet ultimately indomitable human spirit. This resilient spirit motivates us to create a “new” Louisiana – a Louisiana that strengthens our cultural assets, protects our natural resources, and transforms the lives of vulnerable families who live (or die) at the margins.

We have great success stories to tell – from our maturing status as the most prepared region in the country, to the burgeoning class of solution-minded innovators and social entrepreneurs, to the renaissance of civic participation that promises to stoke long-term improvements. Louisiana has below-average unemployment rates, in part due to significant stimulus and recovery dollars winding their way through the state, and has been recognized as Co-State of the Year by a business development group for its “vibrant economy.” Our task is to build on these successes.

However, we must soberly assess the challenges yet before Louisiana. This report paints an often troubling picture of long-standing human disparities, some of which have been exacerbated by natural/man-allowed disaster and the global economic crisis. The report’s Human Development (HD) Index is a user-friendly method of comparing the condition of communities. This analysis has great potential to guide policy-making processes and to support data-driven thinking that moves beyond the assumptions of historical parochialism.

As we continue making good of a bad situation, LDRF is proud to partner with Oxfam America and other organizations committed to fully recovering the lives of Gulf Coast citizens. Sincere thanks to the American Human Development Project for producing this first-ever Louisiana Human Development Report and to Oxfam America for supporting the work. I look forward to the continuation of our joint efforts to reimagine, renew, and rebuild a better Louisiana.