A colleague of mine worked in Dhaka for several years, a city infinitely more crowded than Port au Prince. Yet, Dhaka is much cleaner. In Port au Prince, plastic bottles and trash clog the waterways creating a flooding hazard and a breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit diseases. It is a great place to be a goat but a hard place to be a human being. What is the difference between Dhaka and Port au Prince? Bangladesh has recycling plants while Haiti does not.
Thought you might enjoy reading a Boston Globe piece about progress being made by Partners in Health in Rwanda. It really is an inspiring story. Rwanda was torn apart during the Genocide, but is coming together again. Health is clearly playing an important role in the reconciliation process. Working closely with the Clinton Foundation, the Government of Rwanda, and a large team of dedicated communicate health workers, there are making a real difference with the knowledge and experience they gained in their +20 years of experience in Haiti.
Benjamin Skinner wrote an article in Foreign Policy about the modern face of human slavery. According to Skinner, there are now more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history. He states true abolition will elude us until: (1) we admit the massive scope of the problem; (2) attack it in all its forms; and (3) and empower slaves to help free themselves. Even in Haiti, the only country to have led a successful slave rebellion, slavery thrives. Slavery has many gusies and "restaveks" are just one.
After travelling to Haiti for the first time, High School Civics Instructor Larry Pahl, founded Aid to Haiti with the intention of building relationships with and raising awareness of quality organizations operating in Haiti. His latest effort has been the creation of a handbook of photos, narrative, and infromation about organizations making a difference in Haiti right now. All proceeds will go to supporting educational programming in Haiti.
Last week, the New York Times ran an article about the relationship between hunger and insecurity, with considerable attention given to Haiti. It notes the food rioting, the mud cookies, and the desperation that comes from not being able to feed onself and one's family. Hunger is not new to Haiti. While this article has raised awareness about hunger in Haiti, it does not go into why or offer up solutions which is unfortunate.
With the Prime Minister of Haiti having been voted out as a result of the recent food riots, expect biofuels to get put on the backburner for a while – at least as far as the government is concerned. The new Prime Minister will need to assemble a new Cabinet and we hope that the Ministers of Finance, Agriculture, and Energy will all take a close look at the potential of biofuels. In the meantime, the non-governmental organizations keep working away. A successful war on poverty in Haiti must be fought on different fronts at the same time, chief of which are food security and energy independence.
Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), spoke this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on “The Silent Tsunami" of hunger that threatens to push 100,000,000 more individuals into extreme poverty. You can imagine that Haiti came up several times during her presentation. Haitians are resilient people but soaring costs of food prices (and the subsequent increase in percentage of household income spent on food) is pushing people to their limits. As Ms. Sheeran noted, “The difference between civilization and anarchy is seven meals.” Hunger is a global problem and we do not have the option of not responding.
As part of Johns Hopkins University International Development Series, Charles MacCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children, spoke on the potentials and limitations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As development experts realize the fact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a key role in achieving the MDGs, MacCormack discusses specific strategies that NGOs can implement in order to realize the full potential of the MDGs. What role do NGOs play in achieving the MDGs and how does this affect a country such as Haiti?
Needless to say, a lot has happened in Haiti over the last few weeks. We saw food rioting in Port au Prince, Les Cayes, and Gonaives. Reuters has photos available here. Food insecurity and the rising cost of living were the primary (but probably not the only) factors. These tensions have been building up for quite some time and it is frustrating that the government did not intervene sooner. In the end, the Prime Minister was ousted and President Preval made an appeal to the international community for support. Now is a good time to review both what the Haitian government has done in response and which donors have stepped up to offer their support during this difficult time.
Protests, tire burnings, clay biscuits and/or questionable studies on HIV/AIDS are what it usually takes for Haiti to make the news. When reporters do visit Haiti, they rarely make it outside of Port au Prince. I was pleased to come across "Assignment Haiti" with Calvin Hughes (Local 10 News in Miami.) The report captures both the scope of the challenges facing Haiti as well as the country's tremendous potential. The fundamental question asked is whether there is hope for a New Day in Haiti. After you watch this piece, we think you will agree that there is.