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.
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department released its 2011 annual report on human trafficking. While Haiti does have institutions devoted to protecting children, such as the Haiti National Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), they lack resources and capacity. For the immediate future, trafficking prevention and response will remain driven by non governmental and international organizations. However, the Haitian government can make a major contribution by passing legislation that criminalizes sex trafficking and forced labor. The portion of the report devoted to Haiti follows below.
The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy Magazine released the 2011 Failed States index today. Of 177 countries, Haiti was ranked the fifth most vulnerable when compared against twelve key social, economic, and political indicators. Few would dispute Haiti’s fragility. Still, the index does not convey that Haiti has major assets, such as its Diaspora and potential for economic development. Improvements depend in large part on the extent to which Haitian civil society and the international community can have confidence in the leadership of the Haitian government. A fair assessment or not? Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.
Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2010 Human Rights Report for Haiti, attached and copied below, indicates much remains to be done. Protecting human rights is a critical element of governance and one which the new administration must take on as institutions and infrastructure are reformed and reconstructed. Protecting human rights will help Haiti become a country that is more fair and just for the whole population, not just the rich and powerful.
Without a doubt, post earthquake Haiti was a complex and difficult humanitarian situation. However, the response could have been much better. Below is a blog by Simon Levine which asks why we have not learned from past emergencies and why it is that we may not learn from this one as well. Immediately after is a special issue of Humanitarian Exchange, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which explores the experiences of humanitarian actors involved in the earthquake response.
Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking. Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively. Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.
Refugees International (RI) researchers Melanie Teff and Emilie Parry traveled to Haiti in September to assess the needs of Haitians displaced by the earthquake. Attached and below are their findings. For the displaced, this is still clearly an emergency. Less than 30% of camps have managers, a serious problem given insecurity and the fact that the majority of the displaced are not going anywhere until the Haitian government develops a systematic approach for determining land ownership and resolving property disputes. Most agree that the response of UN agencies could have been improved with better surge capacity, clarity over who is responsible for protection and a concerted effort to include Haitians in coordination efforts instead of shutting them out.
A lack of clarity concerning land tenure, limited enforcement of architectural standards, and haphazard urban planning made Port au Prince a city that was both difficult to manage and highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The Haitian government has reached out to an architectural planning charity, the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, founded by Britain's Prince Charles, for assistance in reconstructing the historic center of Port au Prince. The Reuters article below provides further details about this new partnership.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the opening of an apparel training center in Port au Prince. The intent is to help Haiti take advantage of expanded trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act that passed the Senate in May 2010. My main concern is that foreign investment, while sorely needed, will primarily occur in Port au Prince. Building a better Haiti depends in large part on building a decentralized Haiti where agriculture is viable and profitable. Rural development has been all too often neglected in Haiti, but is critical for the future.
In the weeks to come, I’ll provide updates on recovery efforts in Haiti sector by sector. Why start with education? After an emergency or a natural disaster, schools provide an opportunity to protect children physically and psychologically. It re-establishes a sense of routine, stability, and above all, hope for a better future. Technical and vocational education will be critical for developing a new generation of skilled workers and leaders. Without educational reform, Haiti’s recovery and long term development will be held back.