Below is an article by Trenton Daniel concerning the increasing use of Haitian Kreyol in schools - which is a good thing. In a hemisphere dominated by Spanish and English, French remains the language of the Haitian elite. While true that Haiti has produced artists of note who worked in French, countless children didn't have a chance at a good education because they were instructed in a language neither they nor their teachers were comfortable with. Learning multiple languages makes sense - but so does being tought in (and proud of) your first language.
Since 2004, MINUSTAH has played a central but controversial role in maintaining stability in Haiti. However, MINUSTAH should not and is not going to be in Haiti forever. The International Crisis Group (ICG) describes steps that can prepare Haitian authorities for when they are fully in the lead without MINUSTAH support. Key to this effort will be doubling the number of police, with adequate vetting and training, so greater responsibility can be transferred to them over time. Until then, all plans for reconstituting the army should be tabled. A summary follows below.
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 the World Bank has a mixed record in Haiti, it and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) remain two of the most important multilateral funders of its post earthquake reconstruction. Yesterday, the World Bank announced $255 million in grants for Haiti which will be focused on strengthening education, agriculture, and disaster risk management – all of which are critical for Haiti’s long term development. The World Bank press release follows. More information about its activities in Haiti are available on the World Bank website.
While fragile politically, Haiti is much safer than media coverage suggests. Any violent crime mainly takes place in Port au Prince. Even there, homicide rates are decreasing (now at 3 per 100,000 people in three selected areas) vs. 52 per 100,000 people in Jamaica, generally viewed as a favorable tourism destination. Even Costa Rica has a higher rate than Haiti at 11 homicides per 100,000 people. Below is an article by Trenton Daniel on the decreasing homicide rate in Haiti's largest city. To court investment and tourism, Haiti needs to rebrand itself as historically, culturally, and artisticly rich as well as safe.
The International Crisis Group has released a report on the importance of police reforms for security in Haiti, meaning freedom from intimidation and abuse, conflict and violence, and crime and impunity. The release comes during a time in which Brazil and other partner nations are increasingly contemplating a gradual drawdown of MINUSTAH staffing. This provides the Haitian government and its partners a window of opportunity to continue reforms that will make the Haitian National Police more effective and accountable. The full report is attached and a summary is copied below.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) recently released a report summarizes the challenges that the Haitian government has faced in rebuilding Port au Prince and facilitating resettlement of the internally displaced. Chief among these challenges has been the lack of a formal land tenure system. While several communities have developed their own local solutions to land ownership, a strategy from the central government is needed. ICG notes that this will require political will, creativity, and consensus. To put off resettlement further is to put off a transition to development.
Today marks one year since the earthquake. There has been a great deal of commentary, dialogue, and debate over what is going well, what is not, what should be improved and how. Much of Port au Prince is still in ruins, a cholera epidemic has yet to peak, and the most recent elections were a debacle. The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to consider what will get Haiti out of survival mode and on the path to development. Doing so will depend in large part upon the Haitian government, its willingness to change, and ability to lead.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Haitian and Norwegian Governments, the Earth Institute, and a consortium of NGOs have launched "The Cote Sud (South Coast) Initiative to rehabilitate degraded land on Haiti's southern claw. The initiative will include reforestation, erosion control, fisheries management, mangrove rehabilitation, and sustainable tourism. If successful, UNEP and partners hope to expand into other regions. A press release follows and additional information is available at the Haiti Regeneration website.
Transitions in Haiti are seldom uneventful. An imperfect election on November 28th resulted in widespread frustration and frequent (but mostly nonviolent) protests. On Tuesday, December 7th, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will hold a panel discussion at 2:00 to discuss how the elections may influence Haiti’s recovery and how a newly elected government and the international community can best work together. Panelists include representatives from Partners in Health, the Organization of American States, and the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC. More information below.