Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Thinking About Ourselves and Our Future: Rural Haitian Women Organize

By Beverly Bell, Huffington Post “If we rural women can organize ourselves together to form a bloc, we could accomplish a lot of things,” says Yvette Michaud, founder of the National Coordinating Committee of Peasant Women (KONAFAP by its Creole acronym). The committee is a first-ever effort to unite, on a national basis, the voices and interests of this large and excluded sector of the population. KONAFAP was formed two years ago by women from the 56 member organizations of the Haitian National Network for Food Sovereignty and Security. KONAFAP is still in a building stage, and to date only a few organizations are active within it. Those members are excited about the future potential of the group. Here, three organizers within KONAFAP discuss the status of rural women, challenges they face to organizing as women, advances they have made […]

A Plan to Spur Growth Away From Haiti’s Capital

By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF Even as outsiders feel sympathy for Haiti’s suffering, they tend to look upon it as a country beyond saving. Now there is a plan to do just that, and it is surprisingly convincing. The lucid, far-reaching reconstruction guidelines that the Haitian government is scheduled to unveil on Wednesday at a donors’ conference at the United Nations should give all who care about Haiti’s future cause for hope. Prepared by a group of urban planners from the Haitian government agency responsible for the country’s development, the plan is built around a bold central idea: to redistribute large parts of the population of Port-au-Prince to smaller Haitian cities, many of them at a safe distance from areas most vulnerable to natural disaster. In the process the plan would completely transform Haiti from a country dominated by a single metropolis […]

Beyond Haiti relief, UN looks at building outside Port-au-Prince

By Kathie Klarreich, Correspondent, Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer, The Christian Science Monitor When donor countries meet at the UN in New York this week to discuss Haiti relief, a top topic will be decentralization away from congested Port-au-Prince. Jeanluc Demeneuze plays at a makeshift camp for earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Monday. As the UN discusses Haiti relief options this week, a push for rural development seems likely. (Jorge Saenz/AP) Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Mexico City — When the international community comes together Wednesday to pledge money to help Haiti relief efforts, high on the agenda will be immediate needs, such as a push to get people into adequate housing as the rainy season nears. But as countries convene at the United Nations in New York this week, they will be looking beyond basic relief. In fact, not just how to rebuild, but […]

Combating Hunger by Reforesting Haiti

By Salena Tramel, Huffington Post Last August, I stood in Haiti’s Artibonite valley with several peasant organizers and looked out at the mountains leading up to the Central Plateau. The older leaders in the group explained in depth how green the mountains once were, while the younger organizers and I listened in amazement. The tropical lime forests they described from their past were the antithesis of the sandy naked slopes we saw in the distance. Haiti is a prime example of how natural disasters are exacerbated by environmental degradation and centralized development. Haiti continues to have one of the highest rates of soil erosion and deforestation in the world–less than 2% of the country’s natural forest cover remains. Not only does this dramatically diminish water resources and threaten agricultural yield, but it also intensifies the destructiveness of hurricanes, causing deadly […]

Haiti should have final say over rebuilding, Preval says

The Medical News In an interview with Reuters, Haitian President Rene Preval on Tuesday said that the U.S. State Department Human Rights report, which says corruption is “widespread in all … levels of government” in Haiti, is “arrogant” and that Haiti should have the final say in approving plans to rebuild the country after the January earthquake, the news agency reports. Preval’s reaction to the State Department report, which was prepared before the quake and is part of a yearly batch of reports about many countries, “threatened to sour Haiti’s ties with its main relief partner as the Caribbean state’s government and foreign donors drafted a plan for the country’s recovery and long-term reconstruction,” according to the news service. “There is nothing to reject or accept. It is an arbitrary judgment to which we won’t respond,” Preval said of how the report characterized Haiti […]

Rural Haiti Struggles to Absorb Displaced

By DEBORAH SONTAG FOND-DES-BLANCS, Haiti — Before the earthquake that changed everything, Chlotilde Pelteau and her husband lived a supremely urban existence. A cosmetics vendor and a mechanic, they both enjoyed a steady clientele and a hectic daily routine, serenaded by the beeping cars and general hubbub of Port-au-Prince. Now, as roosters crow and goats bleat, Ms. Pelteau, 29, toils by day on a craggy hillside in the isolated hamlet of Nan Roc (In the Rocks), which she had abandoned at 14 for a life of greater opportunity. At night, she, her husband and their two children sleep cheek-to-jowl with a dozen relatives in the small mud house where she grew up. “With everything destroyed, what could I do but come back?” said Ms. Pelteau, wearing a floral skirt as she poked corn seeds deep into arid soil unlikely to […]

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