Transitions in Haiti are seldom uneventful. An imperfect election on November 28th resulted in widespread frustration and frequent (but mostly nonviolent) protests. On Tuesday, December 7th, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will hold a panel discussion at 2:00 to discuss how the elections may influence Haiti’s recovery and how a newly elected government and the international community can best work together. Panelists include representatives from Partners in Health, the Organization of American States, and the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC. More information below.
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.
Robert Maguire, with Trinity University and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), recently wrote a well thought out report (attached and below) on obstacles to stability and growth in Haiti. Maguire highlights important issues such as the neglect of rural Haiti, where most Haitians live, and the need to bolster Haiti's Health and Education Ministries. Throughout, he states success depends not just on securing resources, but on allocating them in a way that is accountable, effective, and demonstrates the committment of the government to reform. Something to keep mind if investment picks up in Haiti.
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.
It takes more than elections to have a healthy democracy. There are many other important factors, one of which is freedom of the press. This is something that we often take for granted in the United States. In countries like Haiti, journalism has historically been a dangerous business, especially when it informs and empowers the poor. In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, Freedom House released its 2009 International Press Freedom report, which noted improvements in Haiti. This is good news indeed.
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.
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.