Haiti is in the midst of a cholera outbreak, the origin of which is and may remain unclear. We live in a mobile world and the source could be Africa, Asia, South America, or it may have already been in the environment. Where it came from is less important than the fact that Haiti, and especially the poorest of the poor, will always be vulnerable without clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene. This is an update on the current cholera emergency and a reflection on actions that can prevent this from happening again.
Below are remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Haiti Donors' Conference today. While the United States provides in kind contributions of food, she notes that this is not the answer to Haiti's hunger. She instead emphasizes the importance of environmental rehabilitation, agriculture, livelihoods, and infrastructure. She also highlights the potential of alternative energy. After the conclusion of the conference, Secretary Clinton will visit Haiti en route to the Summit of the Americas.
We frequently receive inquiries concerning the use of Jatropha as a biofuel in Haiti. So far, cultivation has been limited to a handfull of pilot projects. This blog lists these organizations and summarizes several recent articles on the subject. A previous blog on biodiesel resulted in over 225 comments from people throughout the world interested in Jatropha. If you are interested specifically in jatropha cultivation in Haiti, please post a comment describing your interests. In that way, this blog can become a conversation about tapping the potential of Jatropha for Haiti.
Even before the hurricanes, Haiti was in emergency mode. The rising costs of food and fuel prompted riots and former members of the Haitian military had re-emerged in the north. According to Haitian Agriculture Minister Joanas Gue, the agricultural system has been destroyed. In many parts of the country, staple crops such as rice, corn, plantains, and yams were lost. The poorest farmers need assistance to purchase the seeds, tools, fertilizers and agricultural inputs that will ensure the success of the next harvest. Until then, food security is tenuous.
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.
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.