Haiti Food Security Update (6/6/2008)

  • Posted on: 7 June 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Everyone agrees urgent action is needed to address global food security but no one seems to agree on what should be done.  The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called a summit to discuss steps for addressing food insecurity.  Anytime +180 countries need to come to an agreeement on this issue, there are bound to be "food fights."   If, as the FAO says, food output must double by 2050 to meet demand, we have a long way to go. While there were no shortage of ideas raised at the Rome Summit, only sustained committment and long term action will make a difference in countries like Haiti.

Jubilee USA: Members of Congress and Other Leaders Urge Immediate Debt Cancellation

  • Posted on: 31 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Despite a letter signed by 54 members of Congress, the Treasury Department refused to support a Congressional request urging for immediate cancellation of Haiti's debt or a freeze on Haiti's current payments to the World Bank and others. Members of Congress recognize that in a time when Haitians continue to starve it is unethical to receive payments the country could use to feed its own people. A letter released last week from Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Legislative Affairs, Kevin Fromer, stated “there is no provision in HIPC [Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] that would allow Haiti to come to Completion Point now.” The press release below includes the reactions of Congressional and human rights leaders as well as links to the letters.

Dominico-Haitians: Stateless in the Dominican Republic

  • Posted on: 29 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Imagine being born in a country that doesn't recognize you and the possibility of being deported to one that you don't even know.  This is a very real possibility for individuals of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.  Being denied the right to nationality has serious implications ranging from denial of health care, the right to vote, or even the right to work and own property.  Human rights activists in the DR such as Sonia Pierre have put their lives on the line to make things better. The issue is, thankfully, receiving more publicity than it ever has before.  Below is an article by the New York Times which describes what statelessness is as well as a piece by Refugees International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center which explains what can be done to remedy this situation.  

Haiti Food Security Update (5/28/2008)

  • Posted on: 29 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

It seems as if everyone except Haiti's Deputies are desperate for Haiti to have a Prime Minister, and thus, a functional government.  Preval has named his second choice - Robert "Bob" Manuel, a close colleague and previous Secretary of State for Public Security. His chances aren't great and donors are concerned.  According to the Miami Herald, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is visiting Haiti to discuss the progress of various bilateral technical programs, such as a food program where Brazil has donated $200,000 and a trash collection program. Undoubtedly, they willl discuss the political impasse as well.  If this doesn't work, we may need to send in reinforcements - the much revered Brazilian soccer team.  

Justice from Lot Bo Dlo?

  • Posted on: 22 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Last week, Haitian survivors of a brutal 1994 massacre by paramilitary leaders at last received a measure of justice. Unfortunately, it wasn't a Haitian court that dispensed it. It was a federal court in Florida. The Raboteau Massacre was a joint military/paramilitary attack on a pro-democracy neighborhood in a seaside slum during Haiti's 1991-1994 de facto military leadership, carried out on April 22, 1994. Up to 100 people were slaughtered, many of them as they ran toward the sea to escape. The next day, survivors of the attack filed complaints in Haiti with a local judge. In 2000, they won the convictions of 53 paramilitary leaders, some of them in absentia, and a damages award of $1 million gourdes. The trial was praised by international observers as fair to victims and defendants alike, and was one of the most important human rights trials ever in the Western Hemisphere.

Wyclef Jean Creates New Partnerships to Fight Hunger

  • Posted on: 20 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

I was talking with a Haitian friend of mine not long ago who was telling me how proud he was of Wyclef Jean for what he has done to give back to Haiti. I couldn't agree more.  Wyclef knows the importance of coordination.  To that end, he has taken the lead in creating a new partnership between his Yele Foundation, the World Food Programme, and the Pan American Development Foundation.  The joint project is called Together For Haiti and focuses on food security, assistance, livelihoods, and agricultural production.  Wyclef has involved numerous celebrities and companies as well.  Below is the article as it appeared in the Miami Herald today.  


Haiti Food Security Update (5/18/2008)

  • Posted on: 18 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The big news over the past week was that Ericq Pierre, Preval's selection for Prime Minister, did not make it through the nomination process.  According to a release by Pierre, he was unwilling to promise positions and favors in exchange for political support. Some have hailed him for his integrity while others have criticized him for not knowing how to "play the game."  To any extent, no Prime Minister means no functional government and thus no new policies.  Donors, international and non governmental organizations and a financially stretched Diaspora continue to do what they can to help.  Below is a summary of other items of interest concerning food security.

Strange Things Documentary: Street Kids of Haiti

  • Posted on: 12 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The publicity surrounding Haiti's political instabilities and poverty are known to the media, yet the country's children are often missing from the images and minds of the world. Strange Things, a Hamm Production documentary, follows the lives of several orphaned, homeless and impoverished children in the streets of Cap-Haïtien. The documentary is an honest portrait, through the street kids' eyes, while describing their stories of survival. Interviews with local residents recount why and how over 300,000 of Haiti's children are left to survive poverty on their own. When you ask a child on the streets of Haiti "What's up?" they say "Bagay Dwol" - strange things.


Haiti Food Security Update (5/11/2008)

  • Posted on: 11 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

mayi moulinBelow is an update concerning food security in Haiti.  First though, I read  an interesting article in the Miami Herald about the critical role of coordination in Haiti relief efforts.  In fact, it notes that an uncoordinated flow of aid can cause harm, particular in a setting like Haiti where food is plentiful on store shelves but most people can't afford it because of high unemployment and global price hikes.  The best way to help Haiti right now is to contribute to both the organizations that can make a difference now and those that can help Haiti become self-reliant over the long-term.