As part of Johns Hopkins University International Development Series, Charles MacCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children, spoke on the potentials and limitations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As development experts realize the fact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a key role in achieving the MDGs, MacCormack discusses specific strategies that NGOs can implement in order to realize the full potential of the MDGs. What role do NGOs play in achieving the MDGs and how does this affect a country such as Haiti?
Needless to say, a lot has happened in Haiti over the last few weeks. We saw food rioting in Port au Prince, Les Cayes, and Gonaives. Reuters has photos available here. Food insecurity and the rising cost of living were the primary (but probably not the only) factors. These tensions have been building up for quite some time and it is frustrating that the government did not intervene sooner. In the end, the Prime Minister was ousted and President Preval made an appeal to the international community for support. Now is a good time to review both what the Haitian government has done in response and which donors have stepped up to offer their support during this difficult time.
Protests, tire burnings, clay biscuits and/or questionable studies on HIV/AIDS are what it usually takes for Haiti to make the news. When reporters do visit Haiti, they rarely make it outside of Port au Prince. I was pleased to come across "Assignment Haiti" with Calvin Hughes (Local 10 News in Miami.) The report captures both the scope of the challenges facing Haiti as well as the country's tremendous potential. The fundamental question asked is whether there is hope for a New Day in Haiti. After you watch this piece, we think you will agree that there is.
Every county has a Diaspora. The governments of some countries such as El Salvador actively encourage their Diaspora to participate in the country by voting, investing, and applying (or runnning for) government positions. Haiti is behind the curve in this respect. However, the Haitian Diaspora has knowledge, skills, and resources with which to make a difference. The Internet is an excellent way to engage them. An entrepeunerial individual from Thomonde where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer has created Thomonde.com. It could be a model for other Diaspora communities.
If you want to read about social unrest in Port au Prince, take a look at this collection of articles on Reliefweb. However, if you need a break from reading about Port au Prince the way I need a break from writing about it, here we are. Haiti is, thankfully, bigger than Port au Prince. Haiti's two secondary cities are Cap Haitian, the city of history, and Jacmel, the city of arts and culture. Though these cities have been neglected under generations of dicatators, each has much to offer and each will play an important part as Haiti rebuilds.
Former Central Plateau Resident, Professional Archaeologist, and Peace Corps Colleague Dan Broockmann sent in the following story about latrine usage in Maissade. 2008 has been designated the year of sanitation and latrines are important for public health. Every Haitian family would like to have one but the cost is prohibitive for many. And as Dan writes, even latrines need maintenance eventually...
If you visit the webpage of the World Food Programme (WFP), you'll see an appeal for funds with which to assist Haiti is on the front page. We have a very serious problem in Haiti and the WFP knows it. Food insecurity brings political instability and the inevitable protests that are taking place in Port au Prince. Rural Haiti will feel the reverbations. It would not be realistic to expect WFP to feed all of Haiti. However, if the agency receives the funds it needs, it can ensure the most vulnerable individuals and communities are assisted.
Today is World Health Day, a time to step back and ask if the world is becoming healthier. On some areas such as HIV/AIDS and malaria we are making progress. Yet we are falling behind in other areas such as maternal and child health. We are also ill prepared to deal with the negative health consequences of climate change - the theme for this year's World Health Day. Though it will be an issue for all of us, it will most severely affect the poorest of the poor. When it comes to public health, however, we are all in it together.
The Second International Haitian Jazz Festival provided an opportunity for many of Haiti's best musicians to showcase their talents. Below, long time Haitian Culture Vulture Tequila Minsky writes about the St. Trinity Music School in Port au Prince, which is educating the next generation of Haitian musicians.
We've spent a lot of time talking about the potential of biofuels to revitalize Haiti's economy, protect the environment, and promote energy independence. From time to time, we'll provide you with updates of what is actually being done on the ground. This is the April 2008 update.