UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will visit Haiti March 9-10 to promote international aid for Haiti. According to UN Peacekeeping Chief Alain Le Roy, ''Clearly it's a fragile situation in Haiti. There are still lots of difficulties but we think Haiti is winnable." Also noteworthy is that a long awaited donor conference has been set for April 13-14 and will be chaired by the Inter American Development Bank. Expect food security to be an important part of these discussions.
Below is a press release by the World Bank welcoming the Swiss decision to return six million dollars in assets stolen from the Haitian people by Jean Claude Duvalier. Duvalier still has thirty days to appeal although it is unlikely he would succeed. These funds would be used for humanitarian projects in Haiti. While the sum is not large, it shows that Haiti, and the international system of which it is a part, are willing to go after dictators (and ex-dicators) who enrich themselves by impoverishing their own countries.
During a recent visit to Haiti, World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that Haiti is at a ''tipping point'' given the billion dollars of damage caused by flooding from tropical storms. For the first time in years, Haiti has a legitimately democratic, albeit struggling, government. Given the World Bank's problematic history in Haiti, the agency should help the government by forgiving its debt -with the caveat that funds would be subject to external oversight and directed to disaster preparedness and response as well as reviving the agricultural sector.
Is the third time the charm? Prime Ministerial Candidate number three Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis was approved in a 61-1 vote in Haiti’s lower legislative chamber. Sexism, homophobia, and power politics could yet derail this nomination. Haiti needs a Prime Minister in order to have a functional government that can tackle developmental challenges, chief among them food insecurity.
Strike two. Preval’s second nominee for the position of Prime Minister was rejected. While food insecurity continues, politicians squabble. I have a modest proposal - Give the politicians concerned one meal a day until a Prime Minister has been selected and a new goverment can be formed. This is, after all, the reality for many in Haiti. I suspect officials would work out a solution rather quickly.
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.
Attached is an assessment carried out by the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (EMAP) on Haiti's reliance on wood based charcoal for its energy needs - estimated to be about 70% of total energy usage. Having read the assessment, I feel it raises some sensible interventions even if they do not go far enough. However, the strategy could provide a foundation upon which to build.