Haiti often seems to be perpetually instable, at a crossroads, at an impasse. It is important to remember though that Haiti is full of talented young people who, if given the opportunity, go on to do great things. Haiti is sorely in need of new leaders in government, in civil society, and in the private sector. The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) has long provided scholarships to high performing students in Haiti who would not otherwise be able to pursue higher education. On 26 February, HELP Haiti will hold a webinar in which several successful alumni will speak about their experiences with the program. Think about participating and supporting their work. More information follows as well as the registration link.
Internet penetration in Haiti remains low, limiting opportunities to grow Haiti's nascent information technology sector. Despite the challenges, there is strong local interset. For example, over 600 local developers and entrepeneurs signed up for a live streamed Google I/O Extended Conference at Hotel Karaibe to be followed by workshops and trainings conducted in Kreyol. The event is being organised by Google employees of Haitian descent. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
Remote mountain villages and dense urban slums in Haiti will usually have multiple churches but finding a library is a rarity indeed. AFP journalist Amelia Baron documents below an effort by residents the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port au Prince to develop a free library where youth can learn. Many of us living in developed countries may take libraries for granted. In a country like Haiti where half the population cannot read and write, they are especially important. More information about the library's creation follows.
Internet availability has come a long way since 2000, when a small number of cyber-cafes catered mainly to UN staff. Broadband availability will increase significantly as a result of Digicel's latest project - financing the construction of a USD $16m 200 km undersea cable to Haiti. For a Caribbean country with a large Diaspora, the internet helps people stay connected and do business. It also has untapped potential as a learning tool, helping students to be active rather than passive learners. More information follows.
Below is a stock-taking document by Groupe URD which highlights common themes from the many evaluations that have been carried out concerning the humanitarian response to the earthquake. Chief among them are the importance of urban planning in cities, agricultural revitalization in the countryside, disaster preparedness throughout the country, and the need to focus on communities and institutions rather than individuals. You can also learn more about URD's activities in Haiti here.
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.
You don’t have to go to Haiti to learn more about Haitians. On the East Coast, there are a number of very good organizations both providing health and social services to the Diaspora and promoting Haitian culture. The Center for Haitian Studies (CHS), based in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, is an excellent example. Founded in 1988, it is a good resource for both Haitians and friends of Haiti alike.
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.