Orchestre Septentrional: The Sound of Good News in Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

Orchestre Septentrional, founded in 1948, is as much an institution as it is a band.  A New York Times article by Larry Rohter below describes how Septen, much like Haiti itself, draws from European, African, Caribbean, and Latin American influences to outlast uncertainty and adversity. Interested in hearing/learning more?  Check out the new documentary about the band called "When the Drum is Beating."  Or better yet, see them in Haiti.      Read more »

Digicel to Finance High Capacity Underseas Cable to Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, March 29, 2012.

Internet availability has come a long way since 2000, when a small number of cyber-cafes catered mainly to UN staff. Broadband availability will increase significantly as a result of Digicel's latest project - financing the construction of a USD $16m 200 km undersea cable to Haiti.  For a Caribbean country with a large Diaspora, the internet helps people stay connected and do business.  It also has untapped potential as a learning tool, helping students to be active rather than passive learners.  More information follows.     Read more »

Protecting People in Cities: Learning from Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

The response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was exceedingly complicated and much did not go well.   According to ALNAP, over 45 evaluations to date have examined why.  The attached report by the Brookings Institution examines one shortcoming in particular - the failure to protect women and children in an urban environment.  Haitian cities remain vulnerable to natural disasters - women and children should be at the forefront of prevention and response.     Read more »

First Mobile Phone Cash Transfers for Housing Repairs Kicks Off

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, March 2, 2012.

Given poor access to and accountability of financial institutions in Haiti, much has been written about the potential benefits of mobile money.  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Haitian Government are planning 2,000 mobile money transfers over the next three months in support of housing repairs.  The funds do not change hands, the possibilities for corruption are reduced, and earthquake survivors can get started rebuilding their homes.  The full press release follows.     Read more »

Long Distance Relationship: Haiti's Bid to Join the African Union

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, March 2, 2012.

Below is a piece written by Ovetta Sampson for the Christian Science Monitor concerning Haiti's bid to join the African Union (AU).  Haiti has been considered by many to be an orphaned African country.  Membership would acknowledge Haiti's African roots, strong even today, and possibly open doors for credit and investment.  Haiti's request for associate membership will be considered at the next AU Summit in June 2013.  It would be a unique arrangement, but then again, Haiti is a unique country. Read more »

USAID Launches Three Year Project to Support Clean Cooking Solutions

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, February 24, 2012.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced this week that it is providing seven million dollars to Chemonics for a three year project to promote the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and improve access to improved cook-stoves.  Haiti's dependence on wood-based fuels for cooking has negatively affected the environment, agriculture, and health.  If combined with economic development and national reforestation efforts, projects like this could help slow environmental degradation in Haiti. Read more »

State-Of-The-Art Hospital Offers Hope For Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, January 27, 2012.

Below is a National Public Radio piece by Jason Beaubien on the status of the  Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital, which will be Haiti’s largest health care facility.  The hospital is a priority for the Ministry of Health, which will be running the facility jointly with Partners in Health.  Eventually, the Ministry of Health will manage the facility itself.  When operational, the hospital will be mainly powered by solar energy.  Internet connectivity opens the door to new training opportunities.  In a recovery where much has gone wrong, the hospital is a symbol of what has gone right, and could be a model for replication in Haiti and elsewhere.    Read more »

2012 Haitian Jazz Festival Underway

By Bryan Schaaf on Saturday, January 21, 2012.

JazzWhen thinking of Haitian music, Konpa, Racine, Twoubadou are probably the first styles that come to mind.  Like many other Caribbean countries though, Haiti has a small and vibrant jazz community.  As with its neighbors, Haiti has been hosting its own jazz festival since 2007 - with the exception of 2010 due to the earthquake.  Jazz is often described as uniquely American - yet Haitians living in New Orleans contributed to its development before it even had a name.  An article on the festival by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald follows.  Could art, music, and film festivals breathe live into Haiti's tourism sector?  Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below.   Read more »

Are We There Yet?

By Anonymous on Friday, January 13, 2012.

Two years after the earthquake, I find myself asking are we there yet?  We knew recovery would be difficult.  The earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters the western hemisphere has ever experienced and arguably the worst urban disaster ever.  Haiti’s institutions were/are weak.  For decades, NGOs have been providing the services that a strong, capable, and accountable government should.  One indication of recovery is the extent to which Haiti’s half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are able to access new homes and livelihoods. Read more »

Pap Padap Dirèk Dirèk- Mobile Communication

By Anonymous on Tuesday, December 20, 2011.

Thanks to Digicel and Voila Comcel, obtaining a cell phone is the least of your worries when traveling to Haiti.  Almost immediately after arriving at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, one spots red and neon green beach umbrellas, under which man holding a string of calling cards and other mobile phone related products.  Need a cell phone? No problem.  Read more »