Below is a Miami Herald article on Haitian dairies that I read with great interest. With the exception of Laughing Cow cheese, it is hard to find and even harder to afford dairy in Haiti. Powdered milk is expensive and when mixed with unclean water can be dangerous for children. Countries such as India have a wide network of dairy cooperatives which provide jobs for women and better nutrition for kids. One glass of milk would make a real difference in boosting their immune systems. According to Dr. Michel Chancy, approximately 100 dairies would meet Haiti's domestic demand. After reading the article watch videos concerning the successful Let Agogo program to learn more.
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.
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.
Below 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.
Today is, of course, Mother's Day. In too many parts of the world, becoming a mother is a serious threat to one's health. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl of Partners in Health remind us in the Washington Post that it doesn't have to be this way. We have the knowledge needed to protect pregnant women and their children. What is lacking is the will and the committment. Drawing from their experiences in Haiti, Partners in Health is applying their rights based approach in Rwanda and elsewhere. The article is copied below.
Jule Hanus from the Art of Living Foundation sent us a video clip featuring a Youth Leadership Training Program which incorporates music, dance, yoga, and environmental preservation. Take a look at it by clicking here. Even when the Haitian government (someday) releases a strategy and appeals for funds to support nationwide reforestation communities will do the heavy lifting. In a country, where almost half the population is under fifteen years of age, there are many opportunities to involve the young in reforestation.
I am neither an agronomist or an energy specialist. But I always have my eyes open for new innovations which could help Haiti achieve either food security or energy independence. Recently, I received an email from The National Algae Association (NAA) annoucing that it would be bringing together Algae oil production companies, algae researchers and "algaeprenuers" together for a conference on June 17th in Woodlands, Texas. The private sector seems to think algae has potential as a biofuel - Chevron, Honeywell, and Boeing all have some involvement in algae businesses. But is it feasible in Haiti?
In one of Bourik’s latest hoofs to the Northeast of Haiti he ran into an old friend, 8 year old Trou du Nord heavy, Beterson. While sitting outside the hitching post, observing the normal street commotion Bourik felt a looming presence.
Our friends at Current sent us a link to a piece concerning a town in the Upper Central Plateau of Haiti called Pignon. Pignon is an isolated community best known for its regional hospital. The road leading to Pignon is one of the worst in Haiti - The last time I was on it, the pickup truck literally tipped over. But even in the most difficult locations, when a community comes together, it can accomplish amazing things.
Copied below is a brief article in the Boston Globe written by Dr. Joia Mukherjee and Donna Barry, both of whom work for the Institute for Health and Social Justice at Partners In Health. Though short, the article cuts through many of the cliches we've seen so far on hunger in Haiti. The piece covers the long term historical reasons for food security, which is by no means new. It also notes how food "assistance" can cause more harm than good and the burden of Haiti's debt on this struggling, young democracy. With minimal tourism or industry, Haiti need its agricultural sector more than ever. But will developed countries let Haiti compete? A level playing field would be more important than any hand out for Haiti's long term development.