The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Haitian and Canadian governments launched a maternal and child health initiative today, a continuation and expansion of two existing programs. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti was a difficult place to be a mother or a young child. Through this initiative, mothers and children under five receive basic care without cost. The intent is to progressively scale up this initiative to 90 health care facilities throughout the country. The full press release follows.
The International Crisis Group has released a report on the importance of police reforms for security in Haiti, meaning freedom from intimidation and abuse, conflict and violence, and crime and impunity. The release comes during a time in which Brazil and other partner nations are increasingly contemplating a gradual drawdown of MINUSTAH staffing. This provides the Haitian government and its partners a window of opportunity to continue reforms that will make the Haitian National Police more effective and accountable. The full report is attached and a summary is copied below.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently announced the approval of two grants for Haiti totaling US $90 million. One grant is devoted to the development of an industrial park between Ounaminthe and Cap Haitian while the other is devoted to modernizing Haiti's energy sector. This is worth noting as investment outside of Port au Prince is unfortunately still rare. The IDP's support for the energy sector will allow for upgrading the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam and promotion of solar energy projects.
I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) conditions in Port-au-Prince were not good even before the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Perversely, the poor often paid the most for drinking water. Against this backdrop, a number of international organizations and non-governmental organizations are working with the Haitian government to help establish a more effective and equitable water system. One of these non governmental organizations, International Action, has been involved with water related issues in Haiti since 2006. Below is an update as to their latest activities.
One World Education is a Washington DC based non profit organization that specializes in teaching high school students to write about cultural/global issues. Andre Sanabia, a tenth grader from Alexandria who participates in the program, wrote a piece questioning how Haitians (and Dominicans of Haitian descent) are treated in the Dominican Republic. I wish more politicians in the Dominican Republic possessed Andre's introspectiveness. As he notes, a little kindness goes a long way.
Imagine being born in a country that does not recognize you and the possibility of being deported to a country that you do not know. This is the reality for many Dominicans of Haitian descent throughout the Dominican Republic. Steve Sapienza’s documentary “Stranded: The Stateless Haitians” explores how Dominicans of Haitian descent struggle with government discrimination in the only country they have ever known. Earlier blogs on statelessness in the Dominican Republic and on the complicated relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also available.
Below is an invitation to a recycling conference that will be held at Wahoo Bay Beach Resort outside of Port au Prince July 23-24, 2011. If you have been to Port au Prince, then you have seen the plastic bottles clogging up drainage canals throughout the city. This is one of many vulnerabilities during the rainy season. Nationwide recycling would create jobs and clean up Haiti's ever growing cities. To learn more about Ramase Lajan (Gather the Money) visit Haiti Recycling website. Recycling plastic, rubble, and trash could become important components of Haiti’s reconstruction.
Below is an article Phil Cruver, President of KZO Sea Farms, wrote for the Christian Science Monitor on the need for a modern aquaculture industry in Haiti. With half the fish consumed worldwide each year having been farm-raised, this is clearly a growth industry. But could it work in Haiti? Even traditional fisheries are rare in Haiti despite its oceans having become largely overfished. However, aquaculture could provide jobs, affordable protein, and contribute to better marine management. It is certainly worth considering.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) recently released a report summarizes the challenges that the Haitian government has faced in rebuilding Port au Prince and facilitating resettlement of the internally displaced. Chief among these challenges has been the lack of a formal land tenure system. While several communities have developed their own local solutions to land ownership, a strategy from the central government is needed. ICG notes that this will require political will, creativity, and consensus. To put off resettlement further is to put off a transition to development.