What comes to mind when you think of Haitian agricultural products? Perhaps rum, coffee and mangos which, truth be told, are very good. Haiti also produces very high quality cocoa although, like every export crop, it is held back from realizing its full potential by political instability and weak infrastructure. However, there is room for growth as Haitian cocoa holds its own against any of its other Caribbean and Latin America neighbours. The FECANNO cooperative along employees 4,000 farmers in Northern Haiti producing high quality cocoa. The full article by AFP journalist Amelia Baron follows.
Below is a PRI article about the Petrochallengers - a (mostly) younger generation of activists who, rather than just changing heads of state, want to reform the underlying systems that prevent accountability, transparency, and justice. Corruption is so pervasive in Haiti that it is all too easy to become numb to it - but the misuse/outright theft of over a billion dollars in PetroCaribe funds was the last straw . These funds could have produced the roads, hospitals, schools, and environmental programming Haiti needed to get back on the right track. Without bringing those responsible to account, it remains business as usual. While they may not think of themselves as revolutionaries, bringing about a government that invests in its own people would be nothing short of revolutionary.
As a result of Constitutional amendments published Tuesday, Haitians abroad now have the right to own land and run for lower levels of offices. Another amendment specifies that 30% of all government workers should be women. A new electoral council is also to be created. The hard work now comes in implementing these changes. An Associated Press article by Evens Sanon concerning the amendments follows below.
While there is not an active Peace Corps program in Haiti, the organization continues to make a difference in Haiti through the 507 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served between 1982-1987, 1990-1991, and 1996-2005. In March, Peace Corps/Friends of Haiti (PCFOH) became the newest “Friends Of” Group to be recognized by the National Peace Corps Association. You don’t have to be an RPCV to get involved! Take a look at our temporary website (we'll improve it as time goes on), join in discussions about Haitian development issues, and feel free to reach out to us with your feedback and ideas.
You don't have to go to Haiti to start learning about Haitians. In many cities along the East Coast, there are ample opportunities to experience Haitian culture. The Tap Tap Restaurant in Miami is a great place to enjoy Haitian food, music, and art at the same time. If in Miami, it is well worth a visit.
The upcoming Haiti Donors Conference is beginning to take shape. According to the Miami Herald, we can expect to hear support for the creation of a 20 member Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) to oversee how and where billons of dollars of aid flowing into Haiti are spent over the next 18 months. The IHRC will establish a Haitian Development Authority (HDA) to plan, sequence, and coordinate projects, all of which will require government approval. Take a look at the National Rebuilding Action Plan, based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, which will also be discussed at the conference. Thank you to Haiti Vox for posting the English version. There is a lot here to think about. Ill post my thoughts in the comments section, please do the same.
The second annual International Congress of the Haitian Diaspora will take place August 6-9, 2009 at Trump International Beach Resorts in Miami Beach, Florida. The purpose of the event is to capitalize on the resources that the Diaspora can bring to help build Haiti’s economy. The agenda includes a variety of issues such as boosting tourism, stimulating agricultural production, restoring forests and ecology, managing water supplies, preparing for disasters, achieving literacy, and job creation. A schedule of events is copied below. If you would like to participate, you can register here. Contact information is listed below if you want to volunteer.
Haiti Pro is new website for entrepreneurs interested in private sector solutions to Haiti's developmental challenges. Haiti Pro Members can easily share videos of their ideas and efforts. There are already a number of interesting clips on topics including dairy franchising, wood charcoal alternatives, reforestation, and women's groups. Below are summaries of the clips that are in Kreyol and/or French. Consider joining if you are interested in small business development in Haiti.
The Annual National Congress & Convention of Haitian-Americans is a partnership between the Haitian League and the Haitian-American Leadership Council. From October 10-12, members of the Haitian Diaspora came together to discuss how they could contribute to Haiti's development. Topics discussed included remittances, direct investment, development assistance, dual citizenship, and adovcacy. Below is a summary of the discussion and a list of next steps. The Diaspora has much to offer and forums such as this help to keep Haitians abroad connected.
There have been many changes at Haiti Innovation over the past year. With the invaluable assistance of Development Seed, the organization which designed the Haiti Innovation website, we've effectively made the transition to a no cost, non profit consultancy. We now regularly provide technical assistance, guidance and contacts to individuals and organizations who are currently working in Haiti or interested in doing so. We also speak frequently with journalists to help impart a more balanced view of Haiti and the developmental challenges the country faces. And of course, we continue to blog. Haiti Innovation is growing and we want you to be an active member of our community.