When people think of Haiti, they often think of hunger, and not without reason. Though there has been significant progress over the past year, hunger remains a pervasive problem. Achieving food security is fundamental to nutrition, health, education, economic growth, stability and all the other issues we lump under “development.” There are well intentioned groups, such as this one from Kansas, that often try to send packages of food to Haiti. It might make one feel good, but in reality, it does little good. There is much that we can do to promote food security in Haiti, but it is up to us to ensure that our time, energy, and resources make an actual, and not just a perceived, difference.
While speaking at the Haitian Unity Diaspora Congress, Acting USAID Administrator Alonso Fulgham announced the launch of the Haitian Diaspora Marketplace, a partnership between USAID and Haiti's Sogebank Foundation that will provide $2 million in resources to support investments by members of the Diaspora with small and medium enterprises in Haiti. Fulgham served from 1984-1986 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Port-au-Prince, where he worked with the Government and local groups on export promotion. More on his remarks here and the Haitian Diaspora Marketplace Press Release is copied below.
Trenton Daniel of the Miami Herald describes below the speech given by Bill Clinton at the second annual Haiti Diaspora Unity Congress. During the speech, he encouraged the Diaspora to stay engaged and announced a number of new initiatives. For example, he noted that the Soros Economic Development Fund has created a Haiti Invest project, through which an initial 25 million dollars will be spent on promoting investment in agricuture, energy, housing, and tourism. Clinton is an asset to Haiti, but as one participant emphasized, the Haitian Diaspora must now step up.
In the article below, Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald writes how, despite Haiti's many challenges, roads are being built, power plants constructed, and business opportunities growing. Investments in Haiti - in the capacity of its government, in its infrastructure, and increasingly in its private sector, are starting to pay off. Haiti is a country under construction, with something that it has not had for years...momentum.
Human trafficking is a global problem that affects every country in the world. Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 annual report on how well partner governments are preventing and responding to human trafficking. Understanding trafficking in Haiti requires understanding the situation in the Dominican Republic. Neither country complies with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, although both governments acknowledge the need to do more. This is an issue that clearly requires cross-border collaboration.
Haiti Pro is new website for entrepreneurs interested in private sector solutions to Haiti's developmental challenges. Haiti Pro Members can easily share videos of their ideas and efforts. There are already a number of interesting clips on topics including dairy franchising, wood charcoal alternatives, reforestation, and women's groups. Below are summaries of the clips that are in Kreyol and/or French. Consider joining if you are interested in small business development in Haiti.
JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is a health research/consulting firm dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide. JSI visited Haiti in January 2009 to identify gaps in the availability and accessibility of reproductive health (RH) services and to assess community responses for strengthening quality, accessibility and availability. Reproductive health is a social issue, a public health issue, a human rights issue, a security issue, and one that is important for countries that are fragile, stable, or in Haiti's case, teetering in between. The report is attached and deserves to be widely read.
The relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could be described as schizophrenic. On one hand, the heads of both governments get along well. This has opened up opportunities for cross border cooperation in health, business, and infrastructure. For example, the Dominican government now sells subsidized propane to Haiti. Recently, the Dominican President even called for the Ibero-American Community to admit Haiti as a gesture of solidarity. However, the mistreatment of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic prevents both countries from becoming less like adversaries and more like neighbors.
CHIBAS is a non profit organization dedicated to developing the bio-fuel sector in Haiti. From June 24-25, CHIBAS will host Haiti's first Jatropha Stakeholders Conference in Port au Prince. This confrence will bring together NGOs, the private sector, and the government to help build partnerships needed to make jatropha a viable biofuel for Haiti. An invite to the event is attached. If you need further information, you can reach founder Gael Pressoir at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many papers, books, and presentations have covered in great detail how Haiti came to be deforested. Fewer have focused on what Haitian government and civil society should do, with the support of the international community, to reverse the environmental destruction. Doing so is neccesary for food security, disaster prevention, nutrition and public health, social/economic stability, and ultimately security. The attached report by the International Crisis Group lists concrete actions that could be taken in the short and long term to promote security through rehabilitating the environment.