Poverty Inc. is a documentary about the organizations created to address poverty and the extent to which they succeed in doing so. Haiti features prominently in this documentary and offers cautionary lessons about how sometimes those who claim to be helping Haiti and other countries like it are in reality helping themselves.
As one of the few countries in the world where sanitation had gotten worse over the past twenty years, Haiti was highly vulnerable to the cholera outbreak in 2010. After years of obfuscation, the United Nations has finally admitted that the epidemic was imported by UN peacekeepers. That it has happened at all is testament to the efforts of Haitian civil society and the advocacy of organizations like the Institute of Democracy and Justice in Haiti. The UN intends to release a response plan in two weeks. More information from AFP follows.
The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles has covered the re-development of the Fort National neighborhood in Port au Prince. This project required extensive consultations with residents, community leaders, and gang members to even begin. Port au Prince, with its ever-growing population, has no shortage of neighborhoods where electricity, water, and common spaces were an afterthought.
In Haiti, most people travel around in tap-taps - pick up trucks that cram people, both sitting and standing, into the back. It can be crowded and uncomfortable but talking, telling stories, and sharing jokes makes the time go by. I thought about this when Lonely Planet posted a story about Lakou Mizik being on a flight that was delayed six hours. The band jumped up and gave an impromptu concert.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private partnership hosted by the UN Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. At present, 93% of Haitian households cook with wood fuels - a major, ongoing driver of deforestation. The Alliance has launched a five year plan to improve access to clean cooking alternatives in Haiti. If you have partners or staff interested in working with them, contact information follows.
Toilet paper is something that it is not adequately appreciated until one does not have it - and forty percent of Haitians do not. Myrtha Vilbon, with support from USAID, has grown her toilet paper production facility significantly. While Haiti is not yet an easy place to do business, she has done well, with over 100 employees (70 of them women) in her factory. The full article by the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows.
The Haitian Ministry of Health and its partners have launched a new HIV/AIDS campaign focused on raising awareness, rapid testing, and treatment. With the support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria and other donors, Haitians can be tested and treated for free. Stigma and discrimination, especially against women and members of the LGBT community, remain challenges. Courtesy of AFP, more information about the campaign follows.
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.
Art is perhaps Haiti’s only inexhaustible resource. Generations of artists have carried on Haiti’s artistic traditions although political instability limited opportunities available to them. Louise Perrichon and Pascale Monnin are now leading an effort to recreate the Centre d’Art in Port au Prince which was destroyed in the earthquake. Its mission will remain the same – to find, mentor, and promote young Haitian artists. David McFadeen's full article follows. Learn how to get involved at the Centre d’Art website (in both French and English).
Timberland has made significant investments in reforestation in Haiti, which you can learn about in the documentary "Kombit: The Cooperative". Timberland's persistence and partnerships have resulted in five million trees (many of them fruit-bearing) being planted. According to The Guardian, Timberland is also supporting a feasibility study to determine if Haiti could become a significant producer of organic cotton. Cotton production is not without its challenges and the jury is still out as to whether it is a crop that makes sense for Haiti. The full article follows below.