Tree Planting_opt
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.

Lock, along with his Haitian counterpart Timote Georges, were able to bring together a group of farmers in a forestry cooperative whose primary goal is both the growth and sales of trees. The Haitian forests, a natural resource that once afforded certain energy and topsoil advantages, has since been stripped from much of the countryside, devastating crop and charcoal production levels.
Subsequently, by having farmers plant trees, Lock hopes to encourage greater internal participation in the development of Haiti. Thus, by establishing a strong ecological and agricultural foundation, the people of Haiti can look forward to a much brighter, more independent future for years to come.
– Brian Turner

Source: World News
Photo: Trees for the Future

Haiti Farmer
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

Source: UNDP
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 condition. 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 of 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 are 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 are 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

Photo:Paradise in the World