Today marks one year since the earthquake. There has been a great deal of commentary, dialogue, and debate over what is going well, what is not, what should be improved and how. Much of Port au Prince is still in ruins, a cholera epidemic has yet to peak, and the most recent elections were a debacle. The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to consider what will get Haiti out of survival mode and on the path to development. Doing so will depend in large part upon the Haitian government, its willingness to change, and ability to lead.
Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities. During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair. PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes. Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning. Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes. Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.
Stability alone may not be sufficient for sustainable development in Haiti, but it is a prerequsite. One of the ongoing challenges to stability in post earthquake Haiti has been the escape of 4,500 hardened criminals from prison, many of whom were associated with gang violence, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. On January 12th at 9:00, PBS Frontline will air a special on the efforts of the Haitian National Police to aprehened the escapees and efforts to establish a functional justice system. More information on the special, which will also be viewable online, below.
Partners in Health (PIH) co-founder Thomas White passed away the morning of January 7th. Many lives have been saved, and the health of many communities improved, in Haiti and around the world, as a direct result of the financial support he provided to PIH throughout the years. While White will be missed, he leaves behind an inspirational legacy. Below is the PIH announcement of White's passing as well as a blog by author Tracy Kidder remembering him.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Haitian and Norwegian Governments, the Earth Institute, and a consortium of NGOs have launched "The Cote Sud (South Coast) Initiative to rehabilitate degraded land on Haiti's southern claw. The initiative will include reforestation, erosion control, fisheries management, mangrove rehabilitation, and sustainable tourism. If successful, UNEP and partners hope to expand into other regions. A press release follows and additional information is available at the Haiti Regeneration website.
Two years ago, we posted a blog about a documentary under development entitled Strange Things (Bagay Dwol). Directed by Alexandria Hammond, Strange Things follows the lives of three street children in Cap Haitian over three years. The film has since been completed and screened at dozens of film festivals. An abbreviated version of the documentary entitled “Children of Haiti” will have its national broadcast premier Tuesday, January 11th, at 10:00 PM as part of the PBS Independent Lens Series. It will include updates on the main characters and address challenges facing homeless children in post earthquake Haiti.
“Tales from the Hood” is a blog written by an expat, currently based in Haiti, about humanitarian assistance, international development, and the good and bad that comes with it for aid worker and recipient alike. It includes observations, insights, criticism, and a willingness to raise (albeit anonymously) the questions that keep aid workers up at night. Below is a three part blog where he looks back on the Haiti response – what was different about it, whether responders are succeeding or failing, and implications for the future. For those interested in photography, you can find his Haiti photo album on Flickr.
On Wednesday, January 12th, the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, the National Disaster Life Support Foundation Inc. and Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness will host a free webinar on the current status of public health and health care in Haiti, including the ongoing cholera response. More information follows. You can register for the event by clicking here.
Transitions in Haiti are seldom uneventful. An imperfect election on November 28th resulted in widespread frustration and frequent (but mostly nonviolent) protests. On Tuesday, December 7th, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will hold a panel discussion at 2:00 to discuss how the elections may influence Haiti’s recovery and how a newly elected government and the international community can best work together. Panelists include representatives from Partners in Health, the Organization of American States, and the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC. More information below.
Any discussion on transitioning from emergency relief to development in Haiti must take into account environmental issues. Environmental degradation is a major factor behind decreasing agricultural productivity, hunger and malnutrition, urbanization, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Since the earthquake, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has been working with the Haitian government to build its capacity to address environmental challenges such as marine management, clean energy promotion, and trans-boundary reforestation. A brief summary of UNEP's activities in Haiti follows below.