It has been one year since the devastating 7.0 earthquake rocked the country of Haiti, killing some 230,000 people and displacing another 1 million. Trees, Water & People (TWP) is reflecting on the past year in Haiti and looking forward to the future.
In the weeks and months following the earthquake, and continuing through the end of 2010, TWP received a tremendous outpouring of support for our efforts in Haiti. Now, we would like to share with you how these generous donations have made a real and lasting impact, as well as our plans for 2011.
2010 Accomplishments in Haiti
With our partners Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), International Lifeline Fund (ILF) and StoveTec, we were able to distribute thousands of fuel-efficient Rocket cookstoves to internally displaced Haitians. The following summarizes our impact in the past year:
“With my stove, I am able to purchase less charcoal and I help protect the environment….the stove program is helping us to rebuild our country so that Haiti can be more beautiful than before the earthquake.”
Moving Forward in Haiti: 2011 Plans
With your continued support, TWP and partners will also continue the distribution of fuel-efficient cookstoves, as well as the training, monitoring, and evaluation process that is critical to the success of this program.
Thank you so much for your support of this project and your compassion for the Haitian people!
I’d call on everybody to keep their eyes and thoughts on Haiti in the coming weeks, and to think of ways forward as the country prepares itself for the era that will see them either emerge as a functional democracy, or remain buried mentally and physically in the rubble of the past several decades.
This quote from a recent NY Times Editorial (Nov. 30, 2010) titled “Haiti After the Vote,” describes the recent presidential elections and speaks to many of the challenges facing the incoming government (whomever that may be):
“Eleven months after the devastating earthquake, more than a million people are still displaced. The country is also struggling to contain a cholera epidemic. The new government will have to clear the many roadblocks that have slowed the rebuilding effort. And it will have to tackle a host of other reforms: modernizing the electoral system and constitution; unclogging bureaucracies and legal requirements that stifle business and investment; overhauling cruel and ineffective courts and prisons.”
I would add one point to the above list of challenges that face the incoming Haitian government – and would, after 6 years of working in Central America and the Caribbean, extend this critique to all the countries in the region. My thoughts stem from a trip I took a week before the elections, from the rural, arid northwest of Haiti back to the capital, during which we crossed paths with a convoy of at least 10 United Nations (UN) amphibious tanks and trucks, armed to the teeth, presumably heading to Cap Haitien.
We were in Cap Haitien until four days prior, and got out just before people started rioting against the UN based on the allegation that the current cholera strain was brought in by their troops, from abroad. I knew that whatever was going on that week would pale to the chaos brought on by a general election between 18 candidates, and the after effects of this contest, that are sure to continue over several weeks.
So amidst the accusations of electoral fraud, stalling on durable solutions in the reconstruction, UN irresponsibility and an intensely dangerous cholera epidemic with dubious origins, lies an issue which receives relatively little attention, but which will be instrumental in creating a prosperous Haitian society, if there were ever to be one. The origins of the cholera that has currently has Haiti over a barrel are secondary when you ignore the factors that have allowed it to proliferate – an abysmal disregard for sanitation and hygiene throughout the country, and no waste management systems that would provide an alternative to current practice. In truth, nobody should be pointing fingers when there are crises like this afoot, but I look at the situation more objectively.
If the earthquake had never happened, Haitians would still be living among open sewers, defecating in waterways and throwing Styrofoam and plastic into clogged drainage channels, with no concern for the consequences… and the world would be perfectly content to ignore it. The cholera may have been brought from abroad, but I’m sure the conditions for its proliferation have been ripe for decades, as they are in many developing-world cities.
I see epidemics like these as eventually inevitable, given the conditions, and this outbreak in Haiti should catalyze a serious global conversation on waste, the burden of responsibility that exists upon both the producers and consumers of things that become waste, and most importantly human waste.
We “first-worlders” are subject to this scrutiny as well, as we find it more than acceptable to ignore the destination of our disposables, and are more than comfortable sullying perfectly potable water (an increasingly scarce commodity) on a daily basis. But until we feel just as comfortable discussing the matter as we do flushing and throwing things “away”, we’ll keep running into epidemics such as this one, and perhaps even worse ones that come from the burning, burying and floating of non-biodegradable and chemical waste into the world’s sinks.
As cholera in Haiti, the recent petroleum disaster in the Gulf, the recent toxic spills in Hungary and so many other environmental disasters have shown us, we reap what we sow, folks. It’s time we face the fact that we have to learn to manage what we consume, where it comes from, and most importantly recognize what that consumption leaves behind. Let’s make the effort to reduce our share of non-biodegradable products in the waste-stream, and to make this a topic of conversation among families and friends as Haiti turns the page and begins this hopeful new era.
Sebastian Africano, Trees, Water & People's Deputy International Director, sends this very personal account from northwest Haiti, reminding us of the epic challenges faced by the Haitian people each and every day. Sebastian has been in the country since November 8th visiting TWP partners and assessing the current situation in this devastated country.
"Crazy day - went to visit some AMURT project sites, and as we left were greeted with a dead body in the street three houses down from us first thing in the AM. Cholera is real and is spreading. We are being extra cautious to be sure, but there is no fear from our side, just respect. We saw another body in Okap - in the back of a pickup truck with family wailing at full bore in the street. It hits suddenly, and takes people quickly. Sure enough, after our site visits and a quick trip to a beach near here, we came across a procession of vehicles coming downhill from Source Chaude - probably 15 - 20 people jammed in an Izuzu Trooper, all screaming like they were being kidnapped. A procession of motorbikes and walkers followed. Nuts.
Source Chaude is cool, pitch black and over-run by goats, pigs, clouds of mosquitos, and feisty Haitians. Remember that this is where Paul and Andrew came down with severe malaria - it's full on roulette. All water in the taps, etc... comes from a sulfurous steaming hot spring, but we filter it, chlorinate it and re-filter it in a Brita just to be sure. I'm sleeping in a woven hammock I bought in Honduras, behind one of AMURT's buildings, in a windier area, free of mosquitos. I woke up this morning at dawn to the sound of marching, and uncovered my face to find myself completely surrounded by a sea of goats. Got to watch the newborn kids chase each other around all morning - clumsy and clueless as to their eventual purpose. The countryside is nice.
Our people at AMURT are doing some strong strong work, and are definitely inspiring to be with. Tomorrow I'll follow them during an actual work day, and then head back to Port au Prince on Tuesday morning, with a potential stop through the waterfall I mentioned yesterday (glorious). I'll meet with who I can on Tuesday and Wednesday, then leave for DC on Thursday morning..."
On October 13th, I embark on a 6-week trip to Central America and Haiti to visit the international programs of Trees, Water & People (TWP). November 5-18, I will be in Haiti and below are a few of my key itinerary activities while there:
Also, I’m excited to announce that Trees, Water & People’s 1,344 Stoves for Haitians Displaced by Earthquake project will be featured in GlobalGiving’s October Give More Get More Matching Campaign. Make a donation between October 12 (10pm MST) and October 21, and GlobalGiving will match it 30%, 40%, or 50%, based on the amount – the larger the donation, the larger the match - until the $100,000 available matching funds run out! In addition, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds during the matching campaign and another $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors.
$10 - $499 = 30% match
$500 - $999 = 40% match
$1,000 - $2,500 = 50% match
Please share this opportunity with your family, friends, colleagues, and community and help us help Haiti! This is a great way to make your generous gift go even further and reach our goal of providing 1,344 Haitian families with safer, healthier, fuel-efficient stoves. Donate today before the matching funds are are all gone!
I look forward to providing an update on my Haiti trip when I return.
With much gratitude,
Deputy International Director
Trees, Water & People (TWP) continues to develop key partnerships and progress in activities and communication with local and international organizations working to rebuild Haiti after January’s devastating earthquake. Recently, TWP earned designation as one of about 10 organizations in the Improved Stoves Working Group in Port au Prince, coordinated by the Haitian Ministry of Energy and Mines. At the same time, we are building a deeper relationship with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as they develop TWP’s idea of creating a National Stove Resource Center in Port au Prince.
As we work to expand TWP’s network in the country, distribution of the 1,344 StoveTec stoves that we previously sent to Haiti advances. We are also supporting International Lifeline Fund (ILF) during their final distribution of 7,000 fuel-efficient StoveTec Rocket stoves in the Corrales Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
As you can see, a lot is happening in Haiti. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this important project! Please continue to help us spread the word so that we can reach our goal of $33,600 to provide another shipment of 1,344 stoves to Haitian families still struggling to rebuild their lives after the earthquake.
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