Source: Haiti Babi
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Source: Haiti Babi
“When you educate girls, good things happen,” Newsweek and Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown said while introducing a new film—Girl Rising.
The film recaps the stories of nine girls living in developing countries and struggling to receive an education. It includes stories written by nine popular authors and recordings from nine acclaimed actresses. The 10×10 production “showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world.”
Girls like Suma from Nepal must earn their freedom before even thinking about education. Suma is a Kamaiya, a type of bonded labor in southern Nepal. She was sold between masters and treated poorly. Finally, a teacher took an interest in her, invited her to night classes, and eventually negotiated her emancipation from her master. Now, Suma is committed to liberating all of the Kamaiya.
Other girls, like Wadley, from Haiti attended school until a natural disaster ravaged their cities. The earthquake destroyed the public school, and the impromptu school established in the post-storm chaos required a fee to attend. Wadley could no longer attend school due to the price. She refused to surrender education and instead attended every day until the teacher allowed her to stay.
“This is the message Malala has been fighting for her life to spread,” Brown said. Malala Yousafzai is a 15-year-old activist who was shot by the Taliban in 2012. Her activism for girls’ education made her a target, but she made a full recovery in Britain. She announced on April 3, 2013 that she will establish an international fund in her name. The $45,000 grant will allow 40 girls to attend school in Pakistan. The organization and community could not be disclosed due to security concerns.
The fund begins with a focus on girls age 5-12. This age group is the most prone to exploitation because they are forced to enter the labor force instead of attending school. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) posits, “66 million girls are currently not enrolled in either primary or secondary education.” Girls with even an extra year of education can earn 20 percent more as an adult. Educated girls become more efficient workers, and in turn, poverty decreases.
Girl Rising is the center of the 10×10 movement, a global action campaign for girls’ education. The film premieres at select Regal Cinemas theaters April 19-25. People can host additional screenings via Gathr.
– Whitney M. Wyszynski
A controversy with foreign aid does not always relate to misuse but the reality of the numbers and figures after the aid is delivered. A popular example of this has been the $9 billion in donations made to the Haitian government since the 2010 earthquake.
Last week, National Public Radio (npr) interviewed Jonathan Katz, the author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. This new book focuses on the damages to both the Haitian government and its people due to communication issues, lack of coordination, and general failure of donor countries to follow-through on their promises.
After reading the interview, it is important to keep in mind that foreign aid is not a waste. There have been thousands and thousands of completely successful large-scale and small-scale transactions and projects throughout the centuries. Governments however need to really sit down and review their policies. In this review, one would hope they would seriously consider making more use of direct aid. As Katz briefly touches on in his interview, there is the uncommon but possible option of paying victims of the earthquake (or any crisis) and removing the middleman. Perhaps not handing them a band of cash exactly, but focusing the energy and time spent on drafting contracts, debt relief plans, and the such to send volunteers and individuals who are willing and passionate about making small but immediate and tangible changes, such as Syrian-American Omar Chamma has been doing in Syria.
The transcript of the interview follows:
Aid pledged to Haiti — $9.3 billion worth from 2010 to 2012 — is about a third of all global health aid donated in 2012. What happened to the money that was supposed to go to Haiti?
Katz: Money did what money tends to do in most foreign aid situations. That is, rather than being a model in which a rich country gives a poor country a big bag of cash and says, “Here spend this on fixing things up from whatever the latest crisis was,” what actually happens is that very little of the money actually leaves the donor countries. First of all, you’ve got billions of dollars that are promised but just never delivered. You’ve got billions of dollars more that were sort of creative accounting. Donor nations say they’re providing debt relief, yet those debts were never realistically going to be paid back. So some of the money is sort of fictive.
So how much actually made it into Haiti?
Even among the real money, if you look at what was labeled as humanitarian relief, in the months right after the quake, that amounts to about $2.5 billion.
Ninety-three percent of that money either went to United Nations agencies or international nongovernmental organizations, or it never left the donor government.
So you had the Pentagon writing bills to the State Department to get reimbursed for having sent troops down to respond to the disaster.
If we’re talking about reconstruction, it’s really a misnomer to think that relief aid was necessarily going to have the effect of rebuilding a country in any shape or form.
So what was that money spent on?
Band-Aids. Literally bandages. Short-term relief. Tarps to put over your head. Food to fill emergency gaps in supply.
But food gets eaten. Tarps wear out. Band-Aids get pulled off. And ultimately, all that money is spent, but people aren’t left with anything durable.When you hear about all these billions of dollars [in aid donations], the imagination is that they’re going to go and rebuild the country after the earthquake. They were never intended to do so and, lo and behold, they didn’t.
There are often complaints after big disasters about waste and inefficiencies. Was the Haiti earthquake different from any other international disaster or is this typical?
What is interesting about Haiti is the extremes.
There are lots of places that have weak governments, but Haiti’s government is weak in a special way. It’s the product of so many years of aid going around the government and international efforts to undermine the government. Presidents being overthrown and flown out on U.S. Air Force planes and then reinstalled and then overthrown again. That left the Haitian government in such a weakened state.
Then the disaster itself was also so much more extreme. It was so concentrated. It hit the capital city. Whether your estimates for a death toll is in the 80,000 range or closer to the government’s estimate of 316,000 — in a city of 2.5 million people — it’s just an extraordinary number.
It was an incredibly horrific disaster. It hit the country right at its heart and destroyed a government that was already weakened.
But beyond that, the attitude that so many foreign aid groups have regarding Haiti is that you can basically come in and do whatever you want. So there was no accountability, no coordination.
People were just running around doing what they thought was best or what they thought was best for them. And it really created a mess.
– Deena Dulgerian
The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to help the Haitian government in its fight against cholera. The Haitian government has proposed a plan that would require an estimated $2.2 billion in investment over the next ten years to eliminate cholera.
The recent cholera outbreak can be traced back, to a large extent, to the 2010 earthquake that toppled buildings, destroyed infrastructure, and killed more than 250,000. The devastation also ruined irrigation systems, wells, sanitary plumbing, and sewers. Those damages to water security and cleanliness are thought to have contributed to the recent spread of cholera that the country has been experiencing.
Haiti’s plan will focus on repairing sanitation, and providing greater access to clean water as well as rebuilding other water facilities. Before 2010 Haiti was reported to have the lowest rate of sanitation coverage in the Americas. A true sign of promise for this program is that it has been designed by the Haitian government and they are reaching out so openly to the international community. As previous programs around the world have shown, local ownership is a huge factor in the success of any aid program and Haiti’s ownership and openness are both good omens for their National Plan to Eliminate Cholera in Haiti.
– Kevin Sullivan
Despite global outreach following the massive earthquake on January 12, 2010, Haiti has been stalled in effectively alleviating the widespread poverty historic to the island, which has increased dramatically after the disaster. President Michel Martelly, elected twenty months ago, has recently proposed a five-point plan of employment, rule of law, education, environment, and energy to help lift his country out of turmoil. But this plan will not affect stagnation unless Haiti addresses its dysfunctional political system, public frustration, and donor fatigue.
1. Political System
The political system in Haiti is one factor that is working against the Haiti earthquake recovery. The system is conducive to winner-takes-all politics, which makes compromise, an essential aspect of a stable political system, difficult to attain. It is also unhelpful that President Martelly faces an opposition-dominated parliament that only exacerbates the inability to compromise. Haiti does not currently have any strong political parties that represent the majority of its poor citizens. This has lead to a system that relies mainly on cronyism rather than public support in order to get things done.
2. Public Frustration
The unfair political climate has led to frustration among the Haitian public. A staggering 350,000 citizens that lost their homes during the earthquake over two years ago are still living in camp settlements across the capital. These people are waiting to see tangible improvements to their daily lives. Their plight has not been made any easier by the drought, two tropical storms and rising food prices. The president faced 128 public protests across Haiti between the months of August and October alone, according to the International Crisis Group.
3. Donor Fatigue
Not only the general public, but also foreign aid donors are feeling frustration over Haiti’s political gridlock. The lack of transparency with foreign aid funds and lack of progress in reconstruction is causing Canada, one of the biggest supporters of Haitian renewal, to reconsider tens of millions of dollars that was meant for the country. According to figures published by the United Nations, only half of the $6.04 billion pledged to Haiti since the earthquake has been disbursed to the country thus far, and only ten percent of that figure was distributed directly to the government. Until Haiti finds a solution for its political woes, the financial aid that Haiti’s earthquake recovery needs could be in a gridlock of its own.
While these issues are important to consider for the Haiti earthquake recovery, it is also important to keep in mind that the international community is still deeply interested in seeing a Haitian recovery. Identifying the key obstacles to any issue is the first step to solving them. Hopefully, steps two to infinity will present themselves sooner rather than later.
– Sean Morales
Photo: Christian Science Monitor
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no evidence that anyone in Haiti had ever gotten cholera before 2010. However, since the outbreak began that year, almost half a million Haitians have gotten the disease, and nearly 8,000 have been killed by it.
Cholera is a horrible disease with a surprisingly simple treatment. Victims suffer from extreme diarrhea, but if they are constantly supplied with oral re-hydration in order to replace lost water and electrolytes, they will almost always survive. Unfortunately, poor infrastructure and a lack of water sanitation systems has resulted in many Haitians not getting the treatment they need.
As a result of these deaths, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti has filed a claim against the UN, stating that evidence demonstrates that the UN was responsible for the outbreak in the first place. Allegedly, UN troops from Nepal were carrying the disease as they were sent to Haiti to assist after the 2010 Earthquake.
On Thursday, February 21, 2013, the UN rejected the Institute’s claim on the basis of diplomatic immunity. Although there are many efforts at the international level to eradicate the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the U.N.’s official decision states that “the claims are ‘not receivable’ because they concern ‘a review of political and policy matters.'” As the UN refuses to compensate Haitian cholera victims, thousands more may suffer until enough money can be raised to implement Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s plan for eradicating cholera in the region.
– Jake Simon
Source: U.S. News
Photo: The Guardian
In an ambitious goal to help other nations help themselves and possibly shift the paradigm of foreign aid forever, Canadian aid worker Hugh Locke has started a forestry program aimed at fostering a sense of independence in the Haitian citizenry. Lock, critical of the current state of NGO and government involvement in projects, is employing his aptly titled “exit strategy aid” to change the scope of development in Haiti.
The country of Haiti, still emerging from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy and previous natural disasters, has had no shortage of challenges involving their crippled infrastructure and forecasted food shortages. However, Lock, armed with his forestry background, noticed that the Caribbean nation was lacking key ecological resources and decided to embark upon a re-forestation program dependent upon native farmers to encourage development in Haiti. When questioned about the efficacy of such a program, Lock remarked: “A road that is built by donor money using foreign contractors is never going to be fully a part of the national transportation system,” before clarifying that such a project, because of its foreign ownership, would need foreign aid to maintain it, which is neither sustainable nor helpful to empowering local projects.
Source: World News
Photo: Trees for the Future
Last year, Haiti experienced “the perfect storm for a genuine food crisis.” From April to August, a severe drought had hit, preventing a good harvest and causing up to 60% losses in overall food production. Increasing global food prices made it difficult for those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake to buy basic food supplies.
And then Hurricane Isaac hit in August followed by Hurricane Sandy in October and extreme flooding in the north in November. In 2011, around 800,000 or 8% of the Haitian population were suffering from chronic malnutrition. Now, that number has nearly doubled at 1.52 million and we are on the verge of an emerging Haitian food crisis.
The people of Haiti have been thrown into a difficult situation, having to work with high living costs and surviving on one meal a day. Key to speeding up this recovery and preventing a Haitian food crisis is ensuring that farmers are able to sell their produce.
As of yet, government and private businesses are slow in their response to assist the agricultural sector. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Haitian government have appealed for $74 million to help the country’s agricultural sector. As of December, less than 5% of that amount had been received.
One solution would be to have a seed bank allowing for farmers to sell their seeds while making them available to others that would need them. Another idea would be to properly utilize water as a resource by constructing dams for irrigation and electricity. Investment in seed banks and water management are just a few ideas that could help prevent an oncoming Haitian food crisis. Medium and long-term solutions making use of resources already at hand are what is necessary for a sustainable Haiti.
– Rafael Panlilio
Source: The Guardian
In 2010, a vicious earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti. Thousands were killed, and untold destruction was wrought upon countless homes and families. Despite its representation of the rampant destruction that once occurred, the remaining rubble is now re-purposed to provide a pathway forward for those who need it most. This is a crucial and hopeful step for the Haitian government to accept help from the United Nations (UN), to focus on rebuilding Haiti’s rubble of the 2010 earthquake.
Thus far, over 80 percent of the rubble is off the streets. Over 20 percent of what has been cleared has been recycled to provide materials for reconstruction. Essentials like stairs and tiles are created with the help of over 20,000 temporary UN and Haitian government workers and Haitian government workers. Construction is focused on making homes that have the capacity to withstand future disasters, including flooding and additional earthquakes.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has provided Haitian citizens grants to purchase repairs and construction materials through monetary transfers via mobile networks. UNDP has trained thousands of Haitians on subjects ranging from home repair to urban planning.
As these projects go on, the Haitian government continues to pursue its “16/6” program, which seeks to close six camps of Internally Displaced Persons and have those people rehabilitate 16 neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Recently, over ten thousand families have returned to their homes.
– Jake Simon
Photo Source: Christian Science Monitor
The Caribbean has and will continue to be one of the most visited vacation spots. The beaches of Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Jamaica remain quintessential examples of the perfect island getaway with clear blue waters and continuous sunshine. One country however, has fallen off its throne as a Caribbean hot spot: Haiti.
Along with the homes and lives the 2010 earthquake in Haiti swept away, it also took away the luxury and lure that once attracted tourists from around the world. Recently, however, the Haitian government has been focusing its efforts on revamping the country as a vacation spot. President Michel Martelly boasts of the dynamic music and the yearly celebration of Carnaval. “It’s probably the worst organized Carnaval…but it’s the best Carnaval…it’s fun, it’s crazy.” He is not blind to the issues facing this new campaign. The streets in and around Port-au-Prince are in horrible conditions. Security warnings alerted visitors of the lack of medical care, high risk of kidnapping and theft, and overly expensive hotels.
Despite these issues, Martelly seems to be focusing on what the Haitians have been able to hold onto since the earthquake: their culture. Although it will take some time to establish basic amenities and safe traveling, tourists still have many reasons to visit Haiti. Many of the beaches offer the ultimate seclusion and beauty. For Stephanie Villedrouin, Haiti’s minister of tourism, visiting Haiti can actually serve as the best form of humanitarian aid. “Don’t just send money through a wire or through an NGO for us. Come and experience Haiti because we have so much to showcase.” It may be an extremely inappropriate time to use this phrase but in essence, people can kill two birds with one stone. The first bird being experiencing the island lifestyle and the second, but most important bird, knowing that every dollar you spend is going towards improving the country’s economy. Yes, even that delicious Piña Colada is in some way helping save a life and revive a once broken country.
President Martelly doesn’t seem to mind using the appeal of Haiti’s current situation to attract new tourists. And why should he? It is not a secret that Haiti has a long way to go, but being upfront about it all may ease the worries people have. The most noteworthy aspect about this entire campaign is that Haiti is using its natural and preexisting resources to revive itself. Yes the revenue is coming from travelers, but the main point is that it is an internal effort on behalf of the Haitian people that is drawing them to the island.
The ministry of tourism however must prevent touristic spots from becoming too secluded and overprotected. The Royal Caribbean liner “Allure of the Seas” is ported in clear visibility to the struggling Haitians only a few miles away from the docks. The area is completely fenced off, limiting tourists’ interaction (read: spending money outside the private beach) with the rest of Haiti. Even worse, it eliminates the opportunity for many local vendors to reach a new market, especially for those who are not able to be ‘pre-screened’ by the government and Royal Caribbean. Although praised as a multi-million dollar source of revenue for the government and for building a local school, Royal Caribbean must seek to incorporate the entire surrounding area and give Haitians the opportunity to work alongside them.
All the work cannot be done by external sources though, and the Haitians must come to realize this quickly. One cannot begin to understand the daily obstacles and hardships they must go through to make a living, let alone survive. As much as the appeal of adventure and exploration of a third world country may entice some visitors, there can be no denial that most vacationers are not going to visit a country with “gray sludge overflowing from open sewers, piles of trash burning in ditches…[and] roads pocked with jagged potholes”. With what little energy and must is left, the Haitian government must figure out these glitches. Once the city becomes presentable, a Haitian vacation will no longer be based on sympathy but a true desire to experience a wonderful culture and its breathtaking beauty.
– Deena Dulgerian
"The Borgen Project is an incredible nonprofit organization that is addressing poverty and hunger and working towards ending them."
- The Huffington Post