Attached is the Haitian Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Within it, the Haitian Government has set priorities and identified steps that need to be taken to make progress against poverty. This document provides the framework that allows international partners to calibrate their programming in order to synchronize their efforts with the government. Any plan worth its weight in paper must be ambitious, flexible, and achievable. Let's take a look at the document and see if it holds up.
Copied below is a good article in Reason Online concerning the results of the 2008 Copenhagen Conference. The purpose of the conference was to bring together the world's leading economists to concentrate the attention of policymakers, charitable foundations, and members of the public on the relative urgency and costs of the world's big problems. You might be surprised by the number one solution - suppplying Vitamin A and zinc children who lack them in the developing world. The price tag is $60 million a year but the cost is dwarfed it by the benefits - stronger immune systems, less sickness and death, and improved cognitive development. Read their proposed solutions and then vote whether you agree or disagree with their findings.
Urgent Advocacy Alert from Jubilee USA (June 6): Please sign the petition to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. to urge him to support accelerated debt cancellation for Haiti and, in the meantime, an immediate moratorium on the country's debt service payments at this meeting. Jubilee USA will deliver this petition before he leaves on Wednesday, June 11. The finance ministers of the G8 countries — the world’s richest nations — meet on June 13 and 14 in Japan to discuss the food crisis. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. will be attending the G8 meeting. By canceling debts they could help alleviate the suffering of Haiti and other affected countries.
In the past, we've written about the important work being done by FOKAL (Foundation of Knowledge and Liberty). While food security is priority number one for the Haitian government and its supporters, we must not forget about education. FOKAL will be holding a symposium called “Libraries and Human Development in Haiti." Speaking at the event will be George Soros, founder of the Open Society Institute, Michele Montas, journalist and spokeswoman for the UN Secretary General (as well as wife of slain radio personality Jean Dominique), and Lorraine Mangones, Deputy Director and visionary behind FOKAL’s cultural programming
Haiti is a creative, vibrant and ultimately unique country. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Haitian arts. The Jacmel Film Festival has proven itself to be one of Haiti's premiere cultural events, both exposing young Haitians to a new medium for and showing visitors a new side of Haiti. Even if you can't attend the Festival, you can now read the Jacmel Journals online. The website states, "Jacmel Journals are regularly updated photo and video reports produced by FFJ students...these on-line video and photo blogs further community accountability and dialogue, while providing continued on-the-job learning opportunities for aspiring documentarians and storytellers." If you like the journals, let them know and consider making a donation to support Haiti's up and coming film-makers.
In a just world, income level would not be a barrier to an education. The Haitian Education Leadership Program (HELP) is a top-notch initiative that provides scholarships to high performing, disadvantaged students. 100% of HELP graduates are now employed, using their education to promote economic progress and to rebuild the Haitian middle class - an essential component of a functional democracy. The fundraiser will take place at the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC and there will be food, music, and a variety of speakers including two HELP graduates. Take a look at the HELP website and consider attending this worthwhile event.
Everyone agrees urgent action is needed to address global food security but no one seems to agree on what should be done. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called a summit to discuss steps for addressing food insecurity. Anytime +180 countries need to come to an agreeement on this issue, there are bound to be "food fights." If, as the FAO says, food output must double by 2050 to meet demand, we have a long way to go. While there were no shortage of ideas raised at the Rome Summit, only sustained committment and long term action will make a difference in countries like Haiti.
I will be the first to admit I never really thought about philanthropy when I was young. I didn't even know malaria existed until I was in my late teens. It was inspiring for me to read this New York Times piece about children who have gotten involved in the fight against malaria, one of whom has raised $43,000 dollars! Children understand the damage malaria can do and the moral imperative of doing something in response. A long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net is a beautiful thing indeed. If a family receives one, retains it, and sleeps under it properly, it will have a major protective effect. At ten dollars (or under) a net, it is an excellent investment, whether in Sub-Saharan Africa or in Haiti which also is malaria endemic. The full article is copied below.
Despite a letter signed by 54 members of Congress, the Treasury Department refused to support a Congressional request urging for immediate cancellation of Haiti's debt or a freeze on Haiti's current payments to the World Bank and others. Members of Congress recognize that in a time when Haitians continue to starve it is unethical to receive payments the country could use to feed its own people. A letter released last week from Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Legislative Affairs, Kevin Fromer, stated “there is no provision in HIPC [Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] that would allow Haiti to come to Completion Point now.” The press release below includes the reactions of Congressional and human rights leaders as well as links to the letters.
Imagine being born in a country that doesn't recognize you and the possibility of being deported to one that you don't even know. This is a very real possibility for individuals of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. Being denied the right to nationality has serious implications ranging from denial of health care, the right to vote, or even the right to work and own property. Human rights activists in the DR such as Sonia Pierre have put their lives on the line to make things better. The issue is, thankfully, receiving more publicity than it ever has before. Below is an article by the New York Times which describes what statelessness is as well as a piece by Refugees International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center which explains what can be done to remedy this situation.