Below is a guest blog by Raynald Leconte, Chairman of the Haitian Cultural Foundation (HCF). HCF has produced a documentary about Haitian art entitled "In The Eye of the Spiral" with commentary by some of Haiti’s most important living artists. Haitian art is so expansive that it can be difficult to describe adequately. To paraphrase the artists: “Chaos is the reality of life…there are few places in the world with as much chaos and artistic devotion as Haiti… creativity is our wealth”. Check out the documentary and HCF as well. Thanks!
To say the Dominican Republic and Haiti have a difficult history is an under-statement. Despite historical (and largely artificial) divisions, there is much the two countries share. This includes a love of music, dance, rum and a good fet/fiesta. The Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center and the Haitian and Dominican Embassies teamed up yesterday to hold a concert celebrating friendship among two peoples who share an island and a future. Enriquillo Tejada y Los Clarinetes Magicos and Tabou Combo represented their countries well.
Haitians may yet have a stadium to match their passion for soccer. Below is a New York Times blog about a stadium scheduled for construction in Cite Soleil. The majority of the $5 million dollar project will be financed by Delos LLC as part of the Clinton Global Initiative. The stadium will seat 12,000 but could be expanded to 20,000 over time. Best of all, it will be built with local materials and by local workers, maximizing the economic impact.
There have been a number of articles recently about Haiti's emerging mining industry. However, mining legislation has not been revised since 1976. The Associated Press article below notes that the Haitian government is presently drafting new laws concerning foreign investment in mining. Haiti could certainly use the jobs - but also needs protection against labor abuses and environmental degradation. I'll be watching this with interest and will post any updates in the comments section.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced a $27 million grant for a pilot program to improve land tenure security in northern and southern Haiti. This grant could benefit up to 40,000 farmers and cut the costs of slow and inefficient land administration services. More importantly, it could potentially be replicated and expanded elsewhere. Land tenure reform may not be particularly sexy, but it is especially important for Haiti's long term development. The full announcement follows.
Below is a guest blog from Esther Smitheram, who visited Port au Prince to work with FONDAPS, a charity founded by CNN hero Patrice Millet. She describes her trip, the FONDAPS mission, and passes on a request by Patrice for volunteers with backgrounds in administation and/or project management. An appreciation for soccer is a plus! Please share with good candiates you may know.
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.
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.
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.
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.