How the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to HaitiFollowing the massive earthquake that shook Haiti in 2010, killing at least 200,000 people and displacing 1.5 million others, the United States contributed $5.1 billion toward relief, recovery and reconstruction. Temporary visas were also granted so that some Haitians could seek better opportunities in the United States. White House officials announced on January 17, 2018, that Haitians would no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Haiti, including this program, as it helps foster goodwill and acknowledges that the U.S. has taken much from Haiti in the past.

Haiti gained independence from France on January 1, 1804, and became the second oldest independent nation in the Western hemisphere. Before that, Haitians helped America win the Revolutionary War. In 1914, the United States under Woodrow Wilson invaded Port-au-Prince, raided the nation’s reserve and occupied the country. Haiti was ruled by the United States until 1934. Haiti still feels the consequences of imperialism and the U.S.-supported dictatorship that lasted from 1957 until 1986.

Today, the United States and Haiti are trade partners. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Haiti because helping the Haitian economy allows for increased trade. Many of the clothes sold at Walmart, JCPenney, Gap, Old Navy and other well-known stores are manufactured in Haiti. The country’s garment manufacturing industry has been stable for decades and is currently employing 60,000 people, according to the Association of Industries of Haiti. The apparel sector makes up at least 90 percent of Haiti’s total exports.

There is clear economic evidence that migrant workers fill important gaps in the U.S. labor market. A 2013 study showed that at the height of the Great Recession in North Carolina, unemployment reached 12 percent. Among half a million unemployed workers in the state, only 250 applied for the 6,500 open agricultural jobs. Haitian immigrants help fill the agricultural labor gap and add value to the U.S. economy.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Haiti and the workers that travel to America on temporary visas. By disallowing visas to Haitian immigrants, the United Staes is cutting off an economically beneficial opportunity for both itself and the Haitian people. The special visas gave Haitians a rare chance to work legally in the United States, contribute to the U.S. economy and help fund the recovery of Haiti after the earthquake.

The United States’ humanitarian assistance to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake fostered goodwill and was a meaningful gesture that helped make amends for the many years of imperialistic rule. When Haiti is productive, safe and firmly rooted in democracy, both Haitians and Americans benefit. U.S. policy focused on aid to Haiti can foster the institutions and infrastructure necessary to achieve meaningful poverty reduction through sustainable development.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Oral Health in HaitiWith just over 10 million people, the Republic of Haiti has about 300 dentists serving the country’s entire population. The demand for high-quality dental care in Haiti is very great. Diseases and lack of preventative care are prevalent among Haitians because of the island’s shortage of dental healthcare providers. The topic of oral health in Haiti, like most developing countries, is given little to no attention because other health issues like cholera, TB, HIV and malnutrition are deemed more important.

Although Haiti is facing some tough times combating these major public health concerns, it is a must that dental care is provided, as it interlinks with one’s overall wellness. Infections like gum disease can heighten the chances of HIV transmission, tooth decay can contribute to poor nutrition and oral diseases can lead to bloodborne infections and ultimately cause heart attacks.

Haiti has about one dental hygienist for every 10,000 Haitians, and the majority of these dentists practice in or around the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince, leaving the remaining 48 percent living in rural Haiti with restricted access to dental care. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the workforce for oral health in Haiti has faced countless challenges, mandating aid from international oral health organizations, including Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO).

HVO is a nonprofit organization committed to developing the resources and quality of healthcare in developing countries through education, training and professional development. HVO works with the American Dental Association Foundation (ADA) and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons on international oral health programs.

To confront the issues that Haiti’s oral healthcare community is facing, HVO and ADA established the Adopt-a-Practice: Rebuilding Dental Offices in Haiti program. Through the program, the ADA and HVO have helped dentists in Haiti who were impacted by the earthquake to reconstruct their practices. The Adopt-a-Practice program has raised more than $129,000 in contributions from dentists and donors across the globe. Many of these doctors have been able to receive donations and new equipment in order to re-establish themselves and continue providing care.

HVO has also been collaborating with the Faculté d’Odontologie, Haiti’s only dental school that graduates about 15 to 20 students annually, for a training program that focuses on oral health in Haiti. A large percentage of Faculté d’Odontologie students leave the country once finished with school to practice elsewhere. The school’s goal is to graduate a group of dentists who can serve the Haitian community.

The more dentists that graduate from the Faculté d’Odontologie and are willing to stay in Haiti and serve their local community, the more they can contribute to improving dental health for Haitians that need it. Building a community of Haitian dentists all around Haiti is just the first step in the right direction.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

we are the world michael jackson

In 1985, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie joined forces to write a song titled, “We are the World.” The hope was for the song to highlight the poverty crisis in Africa and generate much needed aid for the country. The song brought many artists together for a cause and actually created a legacy for other artists to follow.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie jumped all in when it came to creating, “We are the world.” The duo handled long nights and experienced emotions of sadness and empathy during the process.

The idea behind the song came from Harry Belafonte and Ken Kragen. Belafonte a long time human rights activist wanted deeply to help the starving people of Africa, more specifically Ethiopia. At the time, Ethiopia lost over 1 million people to famine from 1983 – 1985.

Belafonte’s dream was to not only help poverty stricken Africa, but to help end hunger in the U.S. as well. The long time activists had heard of a charity song created in the UK that had great success in generating aid for Africa, thus sparking the idea for the project.

The sales for the album were shocking. Less than a week after the release the entire 800,000 copies available were sold.

The single also remained number 1 on many billboard charts for weeks and received multi-platinum status. It is said that “We are the world” is the bestselling single of all time. Over 50 musicians and artists worked on the song. Some artists include Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, and many others.

In total, over 63 million dollars through album and merchandise sales were made. It was agreed that 90 percent of these sales would go toward relief for Africa and 10 percent would stay in the U.S. Half of the money allocated for Africa went to emergency aid relief, such as ready-made food. The remainder went toward funding programs that would create lasting change for the country.

Thus far over 70 projects have been created in 7 countries around Africa. These projects help in areas of agriculture, fishing, water management, manufacturing and reforestation. The 10 percent set aside for the U.S. helped with hunger relief and homelessness.

Michael Jackson and the many other involved with the production of We are the World, sparked a legacy for other artists to maintain. In 2010, artists gathered to create another song for charity to raise funds for Haiti after a devastating earthquake left thousands dead and injured. The song was called “We are the World 25 for Haiti.”

The song’s lyrics from the original, “We are the World,” were revised and a rap section highlighting Haiti’s tragedy was added. Artists were able to raise money for the thousands of wounded and displaced citizens.

We are the World will continue to represent the coming together of humanity to create change for a better world. The continuation of humanitarian efforts such as this will ensure that countries faced with tragedy, whether it is disease, famine, or destruction will continue to be supported.

Amy Robinson

Sources: YouTube , The History Channel, Song Facts

Sustainable Agriculture in Haiti
Located in the Caribbean, the country of Haiti has experienced tremendous devastation over the last decade. Political instability, a poor economy and the massive earthquake in 2010 has left millions of Haitians living in deep poverty and facing food insecurity. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti experienced some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the western hemisphere.

Approximately 40 percent of households are undernourished and up to 30 percent of children experience chronic malnutrition. This issue prompted finding solutions through sustainable agriculture in Haiti, and the Haitian’s government efforts coupled with support from the United States has led to significant improvements over the past several years.

Feed the Future Initiative

The Haitian economy is heavily dependent upon agricultural production. More than half of the entire population relies on agriculture as a primary source of income. However, the country suffers from significant environmental degradation that has continued to perpetuate food insecurity throughout the country.

Through the collaboration of USAID and the Haitian government, the Feed the Future Initiative was launched to improve sustainable agriculture in Haiti. The initiative works directly with farmers to increase agricultural production, modernize natural resource management and improve food security. Feed the Future has worked with more than 70,000 Haitian farmers to increase the production of maize, beans, plantains and rice.

As Haiti is highly susceptible to natural disasters, Feed the Future promotes proper resource management as a way to encourage farmers to reduce the planting of erosive crops in environmentally vulnerable areas. One major way they accomplish such a task is through the use of crops such as cacao and coffee — these types of plants are far less damaging and significantly more profitable for local Haitian farmers.

Partnerships for Change 

Through their partnership with the Rural Research Center for Sustainable Development, USAID has trained over 7,000 farmers in sustainable farming techniques as well as established greenhouses that help to reduce pressure on the degraded environment. The program also put forth a value chain approach that connects farmers directly with suppliers and various food manufacturers.

In utilizing this chain, farmers can gain financial stability and expand sales. Feed the Future also improves post-harvest handling, storage and processing. This, in turn, allows for greater market access and the ability to export products through sustainable agricultural practices.

Establishing sustainable agriculture in Haiti is fundamentally important for economic growth and improving the country’s overall food insecurity. By having initiatives such as Feed the Future, Haitians can be lifted out of poverty and experience tremendous economic growth.

Through greater financial support from the United States and other countries around the globe, sustainable agriculture in Haiti can be achieved and the livelihood of millions can be improved.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to Haiti
Since the 2010 earthquake, there has been an increased focus on humanitarian aid to Haiti. Many argue that not enough has been done when it comes to providing humanitarian aid to the country.

In an Op-Ed written for The Guardian, Unni Karunakara, the former International President of Médecins Sans Frontières, stated that there was an inadequate response to the cholera outbreak that struck Haiti following the earthquake. At the time he wrote the article, his colleagues had already treated over 75,000 cases of cholera.

In another article for the Huffington Post, Cynthia Kao wrote that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and that a lack of partnership by international organizations has led to the unaccounted use of aid money.

Some organizations, such as USAID, have been striving to make a positive impact and address the persisting challenges of providing humanitarian aid to Haiti. In 2017, St. Boniface Hospital in Haiti was able to build an additional surgical ward through a grant provided by USAID’s Office of American Hospitals. The new surgical ward was put to immediate use, saving many lives in the process.

USAID also served as one of the primary relief organizations in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The organization provided emergency food assistance, emergency shelter, search and rescue, rubble removal, classroom construction and assistance with the cholera outbreak, among other things. USAID has also made efforts in combating corruption within the public sector along with improving the transparency of financial management.

After the disastrous effects of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Haiti to lead the United States’ response efforts. USAID’s humanitarian aid to Haiti following Hurricane Matthew included shelter assistance, food assistance, healthcare and sanitation. It also provided a joint task force for the movement of emergency relief supplies and humanitarian personnel, with a total of 98 flights delivering aid to 13 hard-to-reach communities.

Key advancements have been made in health services, agriculture, municipal governance and legal protections for vulnerable populations. Within the agriculture sector, positive results include improved seeds, provision of fertilizer, innovative farming technologies and $12 million private sector funds that were allocated to creating more than 13,000 jobs.

Despite the problems in ensuring adequate humanitarian aid in Haiti over the past few years, organizations like USAID seem to be making strong efforts in helping the country. While challenges remain, the ongoing improvements and positive impacts will continue to make a difference in Haiti.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

The credit financial system allows one party, typically a bank, to provide money as a loan to another party who is obliged to repay and return those resources at a later date. The process of obtaining credit is relatively easy in places such as the United States. However, credit access in Haiti and other small countries is not as simple.

Credit is beneficial to entrepreneurs because it offers a way of obtaining funds that is not illegal. It is also convenient as it offers a system for repaying the loan in the future, when funds are available or when people have a higher income. People can do this as a one-time payment, or they can pay off their credit in a developed installments plan.

For micro and small businesses, especially, credit access in Haiti is very limited. This makes it all the more difficult to establish any sort of entrepreneurial endeavor. The reality of the situation can actually be rather tough: very few individuals can afford to start a practice entirely from their own savings. This is why loans or other forms of investment are necessary.

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) has been working to improve access to new economic opportunities to the over 50,000 micro and small businesses in Haiti (2013). The MIF strategically plans to expand financial services beyond the capital city of Haiti, which is Port-au-Prince.

Fortunately, there are companies that are working to improve access opportunities for those who need it most. For example, in 2010, Technoserve and its partners initiated the Haiti Hope Project. The projected goal was to double the incomes of 25,000 mango farmers within five years of joining. This goal would be accomplished by creating relationships between the mango farmers located in rural areas and investors in the capital.

Many of these farmers were previously excluded from financial programs, making it difficult to kick start and fund any sort of business. This fact is exacerbated given the environmental and economic competition also occurring in the country. The results of the Haiti Hope Project show that 44 percent of the participants now have access to credit.

While credit access in Haiti is still limited, in comparison to other countries, there is a lot of progress being made. Thousands of rural farmers and micro-entrepreneurs are being offered credit and other financial resources. Once adequate incomes are generated, and businesses are steadily entering and competing in the market, the loans can be paid off.

Credit, while seemingly complex, can be a simple way to change the market and economy of countries in need of growth and development.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Homes and Healthcare in HaitiHaiti is currently the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The small Caribbean nation faces frequent natural disasters. In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed more than 300,000 Haitians and left 1.5 million people without homes.

The Saint Rock Haiti Foundation was founded in 2002 in Milton, Massachusetts. Since then, the foundation has brought much-needed aid to people living in less developed regions of rural Haiti. The main focus of the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation is to ensure access to high-quality healthcare for Haitians in need. To accomplish this goal, the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation Clinic was constructed and staffed by a team of qualified Haitian medical professionals. The clinic has since seen over 37,000 registered patients and delivered quality healthcare to people in dire need.

After the earthquake in 2010, the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation took the initiative to help rebuild homes and healthcare in Haiti. Their focus extends past healthcare and strives to promote community development to improve the quality of life for those in need. Primary and secondary education in Haiti is not free, and the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation has stepped up to help provide tuition costs for families who cannot afford the cost of their children’s education. Additionally, families in need can receive a stipend to ensure they can provide their children with proper nutrition.

One of the biggest hardships faced by Haitians after the earthquake was and continues to be access to clean water. The Saint Rock Haiti Foundation undertook the task of pumping fresh spring water from the highlands of the country to citizens living in places where it is inaccessible.

The Saint Rock Haiti Foundation depends on the help of donations and volunteers to help provide homes and healthcare in Haiti. The health clinic is regularly staffed with American doctors who travel to Haiti on missions to lend a hand. The Saint Rock Haiti Foundation also supports projects where people interested in lending a hand on the ground in Haiti can fundraise and build homes for those in need. With the help of groups like The Saint Rock Haiti Foundation, Haitians in the most desperate need have been given much-needed aid.

– Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

water access in haiti

Haiti has long been one of the most impoverished countries in the Western Hemisphere, with a population of 11 million ravaged by earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics in recent years. Now that the country is entering a new era of relative stability, after last year’s presidential election, government officials and civil society stakeholders are joining forces to improve water access in Haiti, a critical issue that has gone under-reported for years.

Diminished water access in Haiti contributed to the catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2010 which killed almost 9,500 people over several years. The outbreak began when water contaminated with cholera seeped into the River Artibonite from a base manned by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera still has a presence. The Artibonite is the longest and most important river in the country, providing millions of citizens with water access in Haiti.

The State University of Haiti (UEH), one of the country’s most prestigious universities, partnered with the University of Florida (UF) and Haiti’s national water agency, DINEPA, to host a symposium on water access in Haiti. Held on November 16, the conference focused on promoting research in the water sector and spurring creative solutions for the crisis surrounding water access in Haiti.

“The university’s medical college has its own system of water provision, assuring its own autonomy and bringing water to five laboratories that in turn provide water to around 1,000 people every day,” said Jean-Claude Cadet (head of UEH’s medical school) to the leading Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

DINEPA is looking to the university’s self-sustaining system as a model of how to improve water access in Haiti and tackle an equally important problem: ensuring better water quality for the country’s citizens. The conference, held on the university’s campus, concluded with three objectives for the partners to work on together: establishing a water treatment center at UEH’s medical school, reinforcing cooperation between UEH, UF and DINEPA, as well as other participants and, most importantly, establishing a new institute for water access and quality that will eventually produce highly educated graduates dedicated to the goal of creating greater water access in Haiti.

– Giacomo Tognini
Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in HaitiIn the past seven years, Haiti has experienced extreme devastation due to natural disasters. In 2010, an earthquake displaced 1.5 million people and as efforts were forming to treat the damage caused by the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. When a natural disaster hits Haiti, 90 percent of the population is at risk, making Haiti one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. This vulnerability results in immense damages, as can be seen in Hurricane Matthew causing damages equivalent to 32 percent of the GDP.  Now, Haiti is making immense strides to redevelop and prepare for future natural disasters with partnerships with various organizations and countries.

Here are five development projects in Haiti that aim to reestablish security for the population affected by natural disasters and secure sustainable goals for Haiti’s economy.

  1. Caracol Industrial Park: The Caracol Industrial Park is a 300 million dollar project primarily funded by the U.S. government. The industrial park was opened in Caracol, Haiti in 2012 and is the biggest investment Haiti has received since the earthquake in 2010. Caracol is a small town, six hours north of Haiti’s capital and far from the epicenter of the earthquake. The project aims to attract additional international investments to Haiti and was backed by the Clinton Foundation and Sae-A Trading Co., a Korean Textile manufacturer. Currently, approximately 9,000 employees work at the park. While the job growth provided by the project has been slow, it is estimated that once fully completed, the park will offer over 100,000 jobs.
  2. Port-au-Prince Municipal Renovation Project: This is a 4.7 billion dollar development project funded by China. The project focuses on infrastructure development in the capital of Haiti. There are currently proposals running to re-engineer 12 roads, install a new water purification and sanitation plant, as well as a new power station and to supply reliable cell service. The Haitian company, Bati Ayiti S.A., is the driving force behind securing the Chinese investment and propelling the project. If the project pulls through, Haiti will receive much-needed advancements in infrastructure.
  3. Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE): The ORE is a small, grassroots organization established in Haiti to improve the lives of the rural population. The ORE was established in Haiti in 1985 and now focuses on establishing stability in rural communities that were hit by the recent natural disasters. Unfortunately, it is said that Haiti is “so deforested that floods periodically drown thousands of people”. To combat deforestation and provide economic, environmental, and agricultural security to rural communities, ORE has implemented programs to plant high revenue trees, and provide non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds and start new marketing programs for farmers.
  4. Haiti Development Project (HDP): The HDP is a non-profit organization established in New York, focused on providing education to the most poverty-stricken, remote areas in northwest Haiti. In 2010, HDP launched the One Plus One Education Initiative, to annually fund the primary school enrollment of 100 students in the rural region of La Vallée. HDP now provides education to over 200 elementary school students in Lacorne. The northwest of Haiti is one of the most isolated, underdeveloped areas in the country and not much is known about the population there. HDP purposefully focused their efforts on improving the education quality in the northwest in order to develop more information about the population and bring opportunities for future generations to escape poverty.
  5. Timberland’s Reforestation Project: The reforestation project proposed by Timberland, an American shoe company, was planned for 2010 but the plans changed due to the massive earthquake that year. The fact that Timberland continued its mission to contribute to reducing the deforestation in Haiti after the earthquake, when aid was needed elsewhere, is a testament to the importance of revitalizing the land in Haiti. According to Brittanica, “Agriculture is the largest sector of the Haitian economy, accounting for about one-fourth of the GDP, but only one-fifth of the land is considered suitable for agriculture”. Timberland completed their one million dollar tree-planting program in 2015 and hopes to use Haiti as a sustainable supplier of cotton in the future.

Before 2010, nearly 80 percent of Haiti’s population lived below the poverty line. Haiti is still the poorest country in the western hemisphere but their poverty has decreased to 58.5 percent. Haiti is strongly dependent on international funding, with over 20 percent of its annual budget coming from foreign aid or direct budget support. These development projects in Haiti illustrate the variety of international investments in Haiti that are working to support poverty reduction and establish sustainable goals within the country.

– Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Haiti has been consistently named the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck seven years ago and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 brought attention to this truth. With natural disasters like the two aforementioned raising media attention to philanthropic efforts, the question often remains: why is Haiti poor?

The question at hand can be addressed by looking at one of the key reasons: political instability. Haiti’s political history has been unstable and this is usually attributed to post-colonial tensions and leadership struggles. While the situation has improved in recent years, the periodic vacancies of positions within the cabinet and of the prime minister, as well as parliamentary debate can and have halted reconstruction efforts or poverty-reducing legislation. For example, the 2016 election process was delayed many times. This delay did nothing for the reported 55,000 people still living in makeshift camps after being displaced due to the rural housing damage caused by the 2010 earthquake.

The slow implementation of policies is often cited as a governmental failure, a failure that fuels crises. IRIN News notes the Haitian government’s wish to implement reforestation projects and other policies that would aid commercial farmers, but that corruption and donated resources not being properly distributed are hampering this effort. IRIN News quotes a Haitian farmer who states that “politicians have failed…Our leaders even had the audacity to take credit for efforts done by aid agencies and directed towards their friends.”

Because of this political instability and overall distrust for the political system, demonstrations are often held in Port-au-Prince. Haitians themselves are questioning: why is Haiti poor?

With new president Jovenel Moïse inaugurated in February 2017, many citizens are hopeful that he will follow through on his election promises of government reform and more democratic processes.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr