Below is the latest semi-annual report from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) covering the period from August 31st - March 15th. The report provides an overview of key developments during this time, especially police capacity, rule of law, and human rights promotion - all of which need to be strengthened significantly before MINUSTAH can fully transition its responsibilities to the Haitian government.
Haiti requires foreign assistance for many years to come. However, trade is more important than aid over the long term. Digicel and others have shown that, while a difficult place to do business, investment can be both beneficial to Haiti and profitable to investors. A two day event to court new investors, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, was recently concluded. Announcements included planned improvements to route national one, an industrial park in the north, and a large, new hotel in Port au Prince. A Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles on the forum follows.
Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald wrote a very interesting piece on the UNDP facilitated program in Carrefour Feuilles that turns trash into an alternative, affordable fuel source in the form of briquettes. This initiative, featured in the BBC 2009 World Challenge, cleans up Port au Prince while creating jobs, including for former charcoal vendors. Simply put, there is no solution for rural deforestation without addressing Port au Prince's energy needs. Until that time, cargo truck after cargo truck of wood charcoal will travel to Haiti's largest city every day. This program is ripe for expansion, and eventually, replication. Click here for the article and videos.
Kathie Klarreich, who has been covering Haiti since 1986, recently wrote a Miami Herald article on the many small yet promising signs that Port au Prince is becoming calmer, better governed, and more stable. Challenges abound, including improving the delivery of health services and reforming the justice system, but these visible signs of progress contribute to a growing sense of optimism and a belief that things can and will continue to improve.
Haiti Innovation was founded five years ago by four Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Haiti. We wanted to do this because we felt Haiti had given us more than we were able to give back during our two and a half years of service. This website has been a way for us to repay a debt - to Haitian colleagues, friends, and family who we learned from and have not forgotten. Haitians like to say that their country has teeth - it bites on to you and it doesn't let you go. Haiti has changed, we've changed, and the website has changed. But five years and 527 blogs later, Haiti still hasn't let go.
The Decheteries De Carrefour Feuilles factory, founded by CASCAF, was selected among 12 finalists in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Challenge 09 Competition. This project has created jobs, cleaned up neighborhoods, and made available a reasonably priced alternative to the wood charcoal that has left Haiti's hills and mountains largest deforested. If you also feel that this program deserves to be expanded and replicated, vote for it at the BBC World Challenge website. Bon Chans!
At the opening plenary of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White announced a $2 million commitment to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over the next three years. Water.org has also launched a social media campaign so that anyone can participate in meeting the water challenge in Haiti. Click here to learn how you can become involved with either your time, financial support, or both.
Copied below is a strategy paper that Prime Minister Pierre Louis recently released on how the Haitian government intends to meet its short term goals. I was pleased to see the attention devoted to agriculture, the private sector, and infrastructure development. Unfortunately, the Haitian government has yet to receive one gourde from the Haiti Donors' Conference. Hopefully, Special Envoy Clinton has not lost his touch and will be able to encourage Friends of Haiti to honor their pledges. The paper is brief but balanced and well thought out. Please feel free to post your thoughts about it in the comments section.