Haiti has yet to deliver a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. There are many reasons for this - a weak government, political instability, an already over-burdened health system, other pressing problems such as gang violence, and a false sense of confidence that the pandemic would affect Haiti only minimally. According to the Miami Herald, USAID announced a $16.1 million commitment to assist Haiti in the battle against COVID-19, it was providing lab equipment, disease surveillance, hand-washing stations and 50 oxygen concentrators to be distributed to 16 hospitals. It remains to be seen whether Haiti will be able to secure and use vaccines that the United States could provide. The full article by Jacqueline Charles is linked and copied below.
Haitian women are holding the country together - yet are vulnerable to gender-based violence and other abuses. According to USAID, one out of every three Haitian women between the ages of 15 - 49 has experienced gender-based violence. In this era of #MeToo, women are increasingly choosing to be voices for change instead of suffering in silence. Haitian comedian Gaëlle Bien-Aimé is a brave Haitian comedian who has shared her experience as a rape survivor and became a human rights activitist. Through her performances, her outreach, and her example she encourages other survivors to do the same. Most about this inspiring activist in the full article below.
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.
Below is an article from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Haiti. While Haiti is one of only four countries in the Americas where LF is found, progress is being made toward elimination. Many partners are working together to that end including the Haitian Ministry of Health, the CDC, USAID, IMA World Health, the University of Notre Dame, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More information follows.
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.
Last week, Trenton Daniel wrote an article highlighting malnutrition and hunger in Haiti’s neglected rural areas. Over the long term, the countryside needs agricultural modernization, better environmental management, and roads to move crops to regional markets. Haiti first has to make it through hurricane season which began May 1st. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an above normal hurricane season with a 70 percent chance of 12 to 18 named storms, including 6 to 10 hurricanes. Storms put lives, crops, and infrastructure in Haiti at risk.
Below is a stock-taking document by Groupe URD which highlights common themes from the many evaluations that have been carried out concerning the humanitarian response to the earthquake. Chief among them are the importance of urban planning in cities, agricultural revitalization in the countryside, disaster preparedness throughout the country, and the need to focus on communities and institutions rather than individuals. You can also learn more about URD's activities in Haiti here.
Below is a report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the current state of reconstruction efforts in Haiti. It identifies ten critical issues for rebuilding Haiti. A recurring theme is the tension between the desire for the Haitian government to lead and the reality that, without increased human and technical resources, it will not be able to do so. Financial resources alone will not be sufficient. The report also emphasizes the United States Government must do a better job of coordinating with the broader international donor community and ensure that it supports Haitian plans/priorities. For now, Haiti remains at a crossroads between relief and development.
As we get closer to May, the rains will become more frequent and intense. Even brief rainfall to date gives an indication of how vulnerable the displaced in Port au Prince are to flooding and mud-slides. Some, such as the displaced at the Petionville Golf Club are being relocated to the hastily prepared Corail-Cesselesse site 15 km north of Port au Prince. Six other sites require urgent evacuation before the rainy season. Other sites can be made safer with engineering interventions. Disturbingly, hundreds sheltering at the National Stadium were reported to have been forcibly removed. Close coordination and rapid action are urgently needed to protect the displaced from the upcoming rains.
Hello from Cap Haitian, the chipped pearl of the Antilles. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central Plateau, I would sometimes take Route National Three from Hinche to Cap for a long weekend. I never looked forward to the grueling trip, but I always looked forward to being in Cap. The beaches were (and still are) beautiful and this region is historically rich. It is here that Christopher Columbus landed and where he lost one of his ships. The Haitian slave rebellion began with a single Vodoun ceremony in Bois Cayman and ended with the battle of Vertieres. The Citadel looms from a mountain in the distance. While the city of Cap Haitian has changed, and not for the better, it is still good to be back in the north.