Haiti faced a number of challenges in 2009 including decreased remittances from the Diaspora as well as a messy transition at the Prime Ministerial level. All things considered though, Haiti enters 2010 stronger than it was at the beginning of 2009. The capacity of ministries to deliver basic services is improving and partnerships have been solidified with the United States, Canada, and a number of Latin American and European governments. Haiti has more investment opportunities than at any other time in the post-embargo era. The next challenge will be the February 2010 legislative elections, already controversial. Improving food security will undoubtedly be an important theme throughout the new year.
Strong arguments can be made that sacking Prime Minister Pierre-Louis was a mistake. Still, she served Haiti well prior to becoming Prime Minister and will no doubt continue to do so. Jean Max Bellerive has since been confirmed as the new Prime Minister. He has stated the increasing foreign investment and reducing poverty will be amongst his highest priorities. He has a much different style than Pierre-Louis, but faces the same challenges. This includes promoting food security thoughout Haiti.
At the recent Clinton Global Initiative meeting, Fonkoze, BRAC, BRAC USA, Partners In Health, CGAP, and CHF announced a partnership in which they would contribute $50 million towards a two-year effort to improve health and reduce poverty in Central Haiti. The initiative will target 575,000 people on Haiti's Central Plateau and will do what all development programs should be doing...helping people to help themselves.
The Center for American Progress recently released an interesting and cautiously optimistic report (attached) on security in Haiti. For Haiti watchers, the background will no doubt be familiar but there is still much of interest. Below is an analysis of the recommendations. The historical and political cards have long been stacked against Haiti but there is now more evidence and more reasons to expect security will hold and improve. With a lot of work, a bit of luck, and the support of its friends, Haiti will continue to make progress….piti piti.
Copied below is an article published last year in Biodiesel Magazine. It may be worth revisiting given several interesting videos that Haiti Xchange noticed on the Haiti Biodiesel Industry website. The first video concerns a group in Port au Prince that is converting used cooking oil into biofuel. One of the members is using it in Haiti's first biofuel powered truck. Another demonstrates a fully functional bio-stove. Finally, there is a video of a biofuel powered generator. Readers can discuss biofuels in the Haiti Biodiesel Forum. Dialogue is needed given the many unanswered questions concerning the potential of biofuels in Haiti. What is the position of the goverment? How best to coordinate among the grassroots organizations, government ministries, and private sector? What do pilot projects require to be brought to scale? Perhaps the June Jatropha conference that CHIBAS is hosting can shed light on these issues.
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.
Natural disasters are a fact of life in Haiti, both in terms of the inevitable tropical storms/hurricanes and the floods/ mudslides left in their wake, largely as a result of the unabated deforestation. Gustav resulted in 22 deaths, but certainly could have been worse. While Haiti can't stop the storms, it is possible to mitigate the damage that they cause. Preparedness is key. Topix carried a Scoop Media World article on the efforts of the international community to help Haiti better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
Disagreements among parliamentarians and political parties over who will serve in the new government have prevented Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis from presenting a new Cabinet and policy priorities (one of which is food security) on Tuesday as scheduled. As politicians bicker, the people struggle. The Miami Herald notes that school starts on September 1st and the fees will be out of reach for many. According to the USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWS-NET), food security conditions are likely to deteroriate beginning in October due to the high prices of staple food crops, hurricanes, civil unrest, and high transportation costs. Having been four months without a functional government, it is long past time to make a deal and get to work.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the development agency of the American government and a major bilateral donor to Haiti. USG support to Haiti is considerable - In Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, USAID provided 245 million dollars in foreign assistance to Haiti, 279 million in FY 2008 and is scheduled to provide 245 million in FY 2009. The goal of this support can be summarized in one word - stability. The point of this blog is not to evaluate these programs but to point out what USAID is doing, where, and to highlight some useful resources on the USAID/Haiti website.