World TB Day was on March 24. If this were a blog about HIV/AIDS, I could write about the progress that Haiti and the rest of the world is making. However, this is a blog on tuberculosis and a fight we are losing. More than two billion people, one third of the world’s total population, are infected with TB bacilli, the microbes that cause TB. People living with HIV are at greater risk. For Haiti, much more remains to be done.
The rainy season will soon begin in Haiti. As a result of deforestation, flooding will be inevitable. What is not inevitable is how well the Haitian government and civil society respond in Gonaives and elsewhere. Unfortunately, Gonaives remains vulnerable and those who live there know it. Below is a piece by the New York Times about the uncertainty felt by the residents of Haiti's historic yet battered city.
Thank you to Lindsay Poulton for sending us this investigative video footage by the London Guardian concerning sexual violence in Haiti. The piece notes how gender based violence has often been used as a weapon, especially in the slums and during periods of conflict. Protecting women and children is absolutely essential for countering a culture of impunity and promoting a society that respect human rights - not just for some of us, but for all of us.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will visit Haiti March 9-10 to promote international aid for Haiti. According to UN Peacekeeping Chief Alain Le Roy, ''Clearly it's a fragile situation in Haiti. There are still lots of difficulties but we think Haiti is winnable." Also noteworthy is that a long awaited donor conference has been set for April 13-14 and will be chaired by the Inter American Development Bank. Expect food security to be an important part of these discussions.
Below is a CNN-Money article on a company which has received exclusive rights for household electricity monitors in Haiti. It made me remember when I visited the local electricity bureau (EDH) in Hinche. The officials said they would set up my house for electricity but never came. Because of the wait, a friend insisted on getting a ladder, cutting open the line, and splicing a wire to my house. It worked. The EDH officials say people are stealing electricity. The consumer says EDH is slow and unresponsive. Both are right. Perhaps these new devices can help make both parties happy? Time will tell.
What a year. The soaring costs of food and fuel, political unrest, and natural disasters prevented any real progress toward food security. The international community tunes in and tunes out to Haiti’s struggle to feed itself. For now, there is attention. Two of the main tasks of the Haitian government and civil society in 2009 will be to begin reversing environmental degradation and reinvigorating the Haitian agricultural system. The challenges remain daunting, but are not insurmountable. There is much that we, as friends of Haiti, can do for a better year in 2009.
The United States Institute of Peace is a nonpartisan, independent think tank (or at least as independent as possible given that it was established and funded by Congress.) Its goals are to help prevent and resolve violent international conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and development, and increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide. The Institute has a Haiti Working Group, which meets monthly and is open to anyone interested in Haiti. The Group periodically publishes papers or organizes Haiti related events. Last week, the Working Group held a panel called The End of Poverty in Haiti.
Monday marked the 20th global observance of World AIDS Day. Each year, this date provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. Haiti's significant and under recognized progress in its struggle against HIV/AIDS continues. In fact, Haiti's successes have been replicated in numerous countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This is something that we can all be proud of. Below are some thoughts concerning World AIDS Day 2008.