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.
Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking” is not a new book, having been published in 2008. However, it should be required reading for volunteers, missionaries and development workers interested in Haiti. Drawing from his experiences as an anthropologist and consultant in the northwest, he describes how NGOs in the region caused serious harm in the name of development. Schwartz is frustrated but not anti development – he is against dependency, corruption, and disempowering the people we say we want to help. You can read a preview and/or purchase his book on Amazon. A few thoughts below.
Adoption can be controversial. In the case of Haiti, many orphanges are poorly managed and with little oversight. Major challenges are a lack of livelihoods and access to family planning information and commodities. Many children in orphanages are not really orphans as they have parents - albeit parents that could not afford them. Trention Daniel notes Haiti is in the process of updating its adoption laws for the first time in 40 years. This would being Haiti's adoption practices closer to international standards.
Below is a blog by Brookings Institution Fellow Megan Bradley concerning her most recent trip to Haiti. She reminds us that even now 369,000 Haitians remain displaced. Finding durable solutions for their plight is a critical element of Haiti's ongoing recovery and long-term development. While NGOs can help, doing so requires, above all, a stronger Haitian state.
The U.S. State Department 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 2011 Haiti Human Rights Report is copied below. Haiti's development depends in large part upon the extent to which human rights are protected, especially for the vulnerable. That takes the engagement of civil society and a government with the capacity and political will to do so. As the report makes clear, much remains to be done before we get there.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced a $27 million grant for a pilot program to improve land tenure security in northern and southern Haiti. This grant could benefit up to 40,000 farmers and cut the costs of slow and inefficient land administration services. More importantly, it could potentially be replicated and expanded elsewhere. Land tenure reform may not be particularly sexy, but it is especially important for Haiti's long term development. The full announcement follows.
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.
Of all countries in the western hemisphere, Haiti lags furthest behind in vaccination coverage. However, there are reasons for hope. The Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP), the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the GAVI Alliance, American Red Cross (ARC), and key countries such as the United States, Brazil, Cuba, and Canada have pledged to coordinate in expanding coverage, including the introduction of new and much-needed vaccines. The full press release follows.
Like Haitians themselves, coffee has African roots. Throughout much of its colonial and post-colonial history, coffee was a major export and source of livelihoods. However, mismanagement, deforestation, natural disasters, political instability, and embargos have resulted in a dramatic decrease Haitian coffee exports. Yet, Haitian coffee is good - unusually good. Can Haiti revive and expand its coffee industry? Just Haiti and Singing Rooster are two organizations that believe it can. Buying from either of these organizations is a great way to support both your coffee habit and Haitian farmers.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently announced the approval of two grants for Haiti totaling US $90 million. One grant is devoted to the development of an industrial park between Ounaminthe and Cap Haitian while the other is devoted to modernizing Haiti's energy sector. This is worth noting as investment outside of Port au Prince is unfortunately still rare. The IDP's support for the energy sector will allow for upgrading the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam and promotion of solar energy projects.