It can take years or even decades for countries to recover from major disasters. The aim is to build back better over time so the country becomes more resilient, better able to prevent and respond to a wide range of hazards. Haiti remains just as vulnerable to major disasters as it was when the earthquake hit ten years ago. There is not an improved building code nor a resourced and widely understood national emergency response plan nor drills to operationalize and refine such plans. Haiti remains consumed by political instability, the root of which is the lack of an effective, accountable government that invests in its people. Donors have become frustrated and less interested - that is until the next major disaster happens, which eventually it will. An article below by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles and Jose Iglesias traces what has happened since 2010 and why.
Protests, taking place throughout the country, have negatively affected the economy and the ability of schools and clinics to function. While this is regrettable, protestors are fighting for a government that is more accountable, more responsive, and that invests in the people rather than enriching themselves. Without that, nothing will change for the better. High level leaders hide while sending out the security forces, who as demonstrated by Amnesty International, have committed abuses on numerous occassions. This is unacceptable - visit the Amnesty International website to read the full report and see accompanying videos.
Hurricane Dorian was the most catastrophic storm to affect the Bahamas to date. Residents, which include many Haitians, continue to suffer. As before the earthquake, some parts of civil society continue to stigmatise Haitians while others protect them. As the country preapres to rebuilds, undocumented Haitians worry about the possibility of forced deportation. The Bahamian government has not issues an official statement but the Prime Minister has told hurricane-affected Haitians that they haven nothing to fear. Haitians are part of the fabric of Bahamian society and will also need to be part of the rebuilding effort. The full article by Jacquline Charles and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald is linked and below.
Thoughout Haiti's modern history, peacekeeping forces have come and gone. The transition to a smaller, more politically focused mission has thus been a careful one and goes into effect on October 16th. The aim is to address the underlying issues that contribute to poverty and instability. These issues are inherently political - corruption, lack of accountability, poor governance, and failure to show leadership on important issues such as environmental degradation and disaster risk reduction and response which will only get worse due to climate change. This marks yet another transition for Haiti and, one hopes, a future where no peacekeeping forces are required. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacquelne Charles follows.
Below is a PRI article about the Petrochallengers - a (mostly) younger generation of activists who, rather than just changing heads of state, want to reform the underlying systems that prevent accountability, transparency, and justice. Corruption is so pervasive in Haiti that it is all too easy to become numb to it - but the misuse/outright theft of over a billion dollars in PetroCaribe funds was the last straw . These funds could have produced the roads, hospitals, schools, and environmental programming Haiti needed to get back on the right track. Without bringing those responsible to account, it remains business as usual. While they may not think of themselves as revolutionaries, bringing about a government that invests in its own people would be nothing short of revolutionary.
Over a million people have participated in protests this month. The Carnival in Port au Prince was cancelled. Instability strains access to heath care and other basic services. Haitians are tired of unchecked corruption when life remains a daily struggle for many. Whether this government remains or is replaced, Haiti's future depends upon improving its institutions and improving accountability. As Athena Kolbe and Robert Mugga points out, it is difficult to imagine this happening without increasing the participation of women in local, regional, and national politics. It is women, after all, who are holding the country together. A new way of governing also depends upon involving youth and other civic groups to hold their government accountable, partner with it whenever possible, and to organise when it is not. The full article which appeared in NPR is linked and below.
Haiti it a tough country to be a child, but especially one without family. Insitutionalising children is rarely the right answer, especially in a country where oversight of orphanages is lax. The better option is to provide children with the option of living, even temporarily, with a foster family. At long last, Haiti is developing a national network of foster families so children don't wind up in orphanages, on the street or worse. Haiti is early in this process but it it still represents real progress. Participating famiies are not paid - they quite literally do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The full article by AP journalist David Crary follows.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Human Rights Reports. While not without controversy this year, these reports are valuable for tracking to the extent to which partner countries protect human rights - including for women, children, and minorities. As in previous years, Haiti's weak justice remains a major challenges. Conditions in prisons remain poor and journalism remains a dangerous business. However, they have been some modest successes including the Haitian National Police becoming increasingly professional. The full report follows.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many strong Haitian women in Haiti and abroad. Below is a Forbes article by Peggy Yu about two Haitian-American women, one of whom started her own company and the other whom became a nurse. Each of them takes pride and strength in their Haitian roots - and nothing any politician says will change that. International Women's Day may have come and gone, but women like Guelmana Rochelin and Johaida Jean-Francois do important work in their communities every single day. Linked and copied below is the full article.
The Haitian government has a responsibility to determine who can and cannot enter/stay in the country and under what circumstances. In the wake of the Oxfam prostitution scandal, the government has indicated that it intends to review all charities to determine the extent to which their staff have been involved in/reported sexual abuse and exploitation. The list of foreigners who have sexually exploited Haitians is long - but it especially stings when committed by people who claim they are there to help such as UN peackeepers, rogue missionaries, and aid workers. This review could be a first step to improving oversight of the multiltudes of NGOs in Haiti. The full article by Reuters journalist Joseph Gulyer Delva follows.