The RAND Corportation has produced a report that convincingly argues building the Haitian state should be central to reconstruction efforts. This includes the development of skilled, trained, and properly organized government personnel and management systems within and across Ministries. The report suggests that, at least through the medium term, the Haitian government should contract out health and education services, monitoring and regulating but providing no direct services itself. It also notes the importance of developing the capacity and accountability of the Haitian National Police. A summary is copied below and the full report is attached.
Small Business Development
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the opening of an apparel training center in Port au Prince. The intent is to help Haiti take advantage of expanded trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act that passed the Senate in May 2010. My main concern is that foreign investment, while sorely needed, will primarily occur in Port au Prince. Building a better Haiti depends in large part on building a decentralized Haiti where agriculture is viable and profitable. Rural development has been all too often neglected in Haiti, but is critical for the future.
Hello from Cap Haitian, the chipped pearl of the Antilles. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central Plateau, I would sometimes take Route National Three from Hinche to Cap for a long weekend. I never looked forward to the grueling trip, but I always looked forward to being in Cap. The beaches were (and still are) beautiful and this region is historically rich. It is here that Christopher Columbus landed and where he lost one of his ships. The Haitian slave rebellion began with a single Vodoun ceremony in Bois Cayman and ended with the battle of Vertieres. The Citadel looms from a mountain in the distance. While the city of Cap Haitian has changed, and not for the better, it is still good to be back in the north.
Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald wrote a very interesting piece on the UNDP facilitated program in Carrefour Feuilles that turns trash into an alternative, affordable fuel source in the form of briquettes. This initiative, featured in the BBC 2009 World Challenge, cleans up Port au Prince while creating jobs, including for former charcoal vendors. Simply put, there is no solution for rural deforestation without addressing Port au Prince's energy needs. Until that time, cargo truck after cargo truck of wood charcoal will travel to Haiti's largest city every day. This program is ripe for expansion, and eventually, replication. Click here for the article and videos.
In late 2006, we were blogging about Haiti’s kidnapping crisis. Now in late 2009, we are blogging about investment opportunities. Much has changed. Just last week, hundreds of potential investors gathered for the largest investment conference ever held in Haiti, organized by the Inter American Development Bank with financial support from the Canadian government. Will trade become more important than aid some day? This depends on the answers to two questions. First, can investors make a return on their investments? Second, will the government allocate new resources in an effective, accountable way that benefits all of Haiti and not just the cities?
At the recent Clinton Global Initiative meeting, Fonkoze, BRAC, BRAC USA, Partners In Health, CGAP, and CHF announced a partnership in which they would contribute $50 million towards a two-year effort to improve health and reduce poverty in Central Haiti. The initiative will target 575,000 people on Haiti's Central Plateau and will do what all development programs should be doing...helping people to help themselves.
Microfinance has been successful throughout the world, including in Haiti. Thanks to Mix Market, there is now an application that allows users to track microfinance. Mix Market has published data on more than 1,500 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 190 countries. As Development Seed puts it,"The Mix Market is a Bloomberg for microfinance...it opens this information up to help MFIs, researchers, raters, evaluators, and governmental and regulatory agencies better see the marketplace, and that makes for better international development."
On September 11th, winners will be selected for the Pioneers of Prosperity Caribbean Awards 2009. Two Haitian companies are in the running: (1) Alternative Insurance Company, founded in 2001 by Olivier Barrau to provide a range of insurance products aimed at Haitians earning less than $4 a day, and (2) Solutions S.A., founded by Kurt Jean-Charles in 2000 to create customized database solutions and information systems. Both companies demonstrate the potential of Haitian businesses and we wish them the best of luck. More details about the contest are below.
While speaking at the Haitian Unity Diaspora Congress, Acting USAID Administrator Alonso Fulgham announced the launch of the Haitian Diaspora Marketplace, a partnership between USAID and Haiti's Sogebank Foundation that will provide $2 million in resources to support investments by members of the Diaspora with small and medium enterprises in Haiti. Fulgham served from 1984-1986 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Port-au-Prince, where he worked with the Government and local groups on export promotion. More on his remarks here and the Haitian Diaspora Marketplace Press Release is copied below.
Jonathan Katz reported that the World Bank, IMF, and IDB canceled $1.2 billion of Haiti's debt Tuesday, freeing up millions of dollars for much needed poverty reduction programs. Needless to say, this is excellent news. Given the scope of Haiti's needs, it never made sense its citizens should have to pay $1.6 million in debt per month, most of which was acquired under dictators that they never voted for. This represents a measure of confidence in the Preval Administration, which now has a bit more economic flexibility than it had before. More info below.