On December 1st, outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered an apology of sorts, expressing reget for not doing enough to respond to cholera while not admitting that it was caused by the poor sanitation practices of UN Peacekeepers. Had this apology been made five years ago, coupled with a committment to bring an end to the outbreak no matter how long necessary, it would have meant something. Coming months before he leaves office, one has the impression that the outbreak was not a priority until recently, that he is seeking to tie up the loose ends of his legacy before stepping down, or both. The full article by IRIN writer Samuel Oakford is below and information on efforts to hold the United Nations accountable can be found at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).
When thinking of Haitian exports, mangos, coffee, and rum may come to mind. However, Haiti was once and could be yet again a significant producer of cacao – the raw form of cocoa that is roasted and converted into chocolate. Expanding cacao production would mean livelihoods for farmers in rural Haiti while potentially complementing reforestation efforts. This is, all in all, a sweet deal.
To be fair, the Haitian government is trying to demonstrate the leadership that was absent from the 2010 earthquake response. It is setting priorities and specifying what interventions it will and will not accept from the international community. Still, the government is quite fragile and has limited capacity. Some priorities are being determined not based on the needs of the survivors as much as the needs of the government to show that it has changed. New York Times writer Azam Ahmedoct reflects on how the response to the earthquake is shaping the response to Hurricane Matthew below.
Haiti cannot change that it will always be affected by natural disasters. What the Haitian government and civil society can change is the extent to which it plans, prepares, and mitigates natural disasters. Very little of the assistance Haiti receives is devoted to mitigation. Haiti's partners should expect, encourage and support Haiti so that it is ready for the next hurricane, mudslide, drought, earthquake or other disaster. It may be a week or a year away, but it will come. IRIN Migration Writer Kristy Siegfried explores whether Hurricane Matthew might encourage participation, partnerships, and prevention.
After several days, the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is clearer. Haitians say the heart can't feel what the eyes don't see - so look at these photos from Al Jazeera and the Miami Herald as well as aerial footage by the United Nations. There is concern that the flooding could cause an upsurge in cholera cases. Given the scale of destruction, Haiti's elections have been postponed and a new date has not been determined. The humanitarian needs are real - but so too is the need to better plan for and respond to future hurricanes. Elections are rescheduled for November 20th.
In Haiti and other countries around the world, mental health problems cause significant suffering by decreasing a person’s ability to complete daily tasks, work, learn, and/or build supportive relationships with others. Discussing mental illness in Haiti can be sensitive – but it is a very important and often overlooked aspect of public health.
Below is a an article by Forbes writer Jo Piazza about Haitian-American entrepeneur Alexis Gallivan. With the management skills she acquired selling ice cream in Brooklyn, Gallivan decided to replicate her business in Haiti. Being an entrepeneur in Haiti is tough - it ranks 182nd out of 189 countries in the latest Worrd Bank "Ease of Doing Business" Report. To put that into perspective, Afghanistan is 177th. However, the Haitian diaspora is full of individuals with skills, resources, and the potential to create small businesses that provide training and livelihoods. Learn more at the Bel Rev website.
Homophobia is a problem in Haiti for many reasons including a lack of education and an environment still too permissive of human rights violations. Religious leaders may promote tolerance or incite hatred. Being openly gay in Haiti is both dangerous and courageous. Unfortunately, the Massimadi LGBT festival has been called off due to threats against participating organizations including FOKAL, Kouraj, and others. The festival will hopefully take place safely and at a later date. The full article by AP journalist David McFadden follows.
“Father Joseph” is an inspiring documentary about a priest and community leader who has devoted his life to empowering the rural poor. Father Joseph and his colleagues launched and expanded Haiti’s largest micro-credit bank network (Fonkoze), the country’s first rural University, schools, radio station, an orphanage, and more. While the earthquake destroyed much of what had been created, Fondwa has not given up. They are building it back, just as before, little by little.
In conjunction with Timberland, HP Inc, and the Clinton Global Initiative, Pittsburgh-based company Thread International PBC LTD has launched a three year pilot project in Haiti to street-level plastic bottle collectors by providing education, health care, and job training. The collectors perform a valuable service as plastic, n addition to being an eyesore, can leech into the soil and clogs drainage canals that are meant to divert water during major storms. More information from Plastics News follows: