On February 13th, a fire killed thirteen children and two adult caretakers at a "children's home" that the U.S based Church of Bible Understanding supported in Haiti. I want to be clear that there are some faith-based groups doing heroic work for health, education, and social justice in Haiti. There are, however, as many unscruplous organisations who see children as a way to fund-raise salaries, overhead, while providing little for the kids themselves. Orphanages are money-makers and thus are plentiful, numbering oven 700. Many of these children are abused and exploited in the name of God and money. If these organisations were really interested in helping, they would make familly planning available so parents have no more children than they want or can afford, would support families to take care of the children they already have, and expand adoption/foster networks for children who have no family to take them in. The church refuses to comment on the allegations of children who have come forward to say they were abused. The full article by AP journalists Michael Weissenstein and Ben Fox follows.
It can take years or even decades for countries to recover from major disasters. The aim is to build back better over time so the country becomes more resilient, better able to prevent and respond to a wide range of hazards. Haiti remains just as vulnerable to major disasters as it was when the earthquake hit ten years ago. There is not an improved building code nor a resourced and widely understood national emergency response plan nor drills to operationalize and refine such plans. Haiti remains consumed by political instability, the root of which is the lack of an effective, accountable government that invests in its people. Donors have become frustrated and less interested - that is until the next major disaster happens, which eventually it will. An article below by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles and Jose Iglesias traces what has happened since 2010 and why.
Haiti no longer receives discounted oil from an increasingly chaotic Venezuela - and all the good (cheaper oil) and bad (blatant corruption) that came with it. Much of Port au Prince is now getting by with only thee hours of electricity a day negatively affecting the economy, political stability, health care, and transportation. Increasing renewable energy may help Haiti in the long run, but in the short term, a more predictable and rational approach to petroleum imports is required. The full article by Associated Press journalist Ralph Thomassaint Joseph follows.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Human Rights Reports. While not without controversy this year, these reports are valuable for tracking to the extent to which partner countries protect human rights - including for women, children, and minorities. As in previous years, Haiti's weak justice remains a major challenges. Conditions in prisons remain poor and journalism remains a dangerous business. However, they have been some modest successes including the Haitian National Police becoming increasingly professional. The full report follows.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.
The International Crisis Group's (ICG) latest report "Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus" examines the Haitian government's efforts to convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are achievable. The report emphasizes the need for good governance, consensus building among the elites, effectively implemented poverty reduction strategies and strengthened rule of law. Getting there will require a shift from highly confrontational politics to one of compromise and consensus. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report on the ICG website.
Today marks one year since the earthquake. There has been a great deal of commentary, dialogue, and debate over what is going well, what is not, what should be improved and how. Much of Port au Prince is still in ruins, a cholera epidemic has yet to peak, and the most recent elections were a debacle. The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to consider what will get Haiti out of survival mode and on the path to development. Doing so will depend in large part upon the Haitian government, its willingness to change, and ability to lead.
The RAND Corportation has produced a report that convincingly argues building the Haitian state should be central to reconstruction efforts. This includes the development of skilled, trained, and properly organized government personnel and management systems within and across Ministries. The report suggests that, at least through the medium term, the Haitian government should contract out health and education services, monitoring and regulating but providing no direct services itself. It also notes the importance of developing the capacity and accountability of the Haitian National Police. A summary is copied below and the full report is attached.
Most would agree increasing trade is important for Haiti's long term development. Where people disagree concerns what kind, how much, and where. Haiti has never been an easy place to invest, but it has enormous potential due to its large multinational Diaspora, proximity to the United States, vast labor pool, and now the passage of Hope II. Given these advantages, is Haiti open for business?
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the development agency of the American government and a major bilateral donor to Haiti. USG support to Haiti is considerable - In Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, USAID provided 245 million dollars in foreign assistance to Haiti, 279 million in FY 2008 and is scheduled to provide 245 million in FY 2009. The goal of this support can be summarized in one word - stability. The point of this blog is not to evaluate these programs but to point out what USAID is doing, where, and to highlight some useful resources on the USAID/Haiti website.