Over the years
Development and Peace has been involved in Haiti since the 1970s and has in-depth knowledge of the local organizations. We are therefore well equipped to work efficiently to bring about social change, empower Haitians to work for their own development and respond to climate-related disasters.
Our work is highly respected by Haitians and by other non-governmental organizations, and we are able to achieve significant results. We have been helping communities transition from being the recipients of humanitarian aid to being active participants in long-term community development projects, and we have strengthened local grassroots organizations so that they can be at the forefront of aid programs in response to emergencies. For example, in the wake of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, we helped local grassroots organizations build 25 houses in Cavaillon, a heavily affected town. We were later heartened to learn that those houses had withstood the force of the 2021 earthquake.
Our approach reinforces the dignity of Haitians and puts them at the forefront of their own development — the antithesis of the endless cycle of handouts and dependence spawned by many other international aid programs in Haiti over the decades. Our approach is to work from the bottom up and to work with community organizations who push the local authorities to do their job and ensure accountability. Our projects always seek the buy-in of local authorities promoting local ownership. We support partners in their efforts to lobby their own government in support of change.
Our long-term and respected work with women’s groups has also achieved significant results, such as by tackling the problem of impunity for rapists, empowering women to command more respect from society, and effecting public attitudinal changes towards women. It is on this important foundation of experience and results that we shape our approach to our work today.
Our work seeks to reduce the vulnerability of Haitians to the nefarious impacts of climate change. A post-earthquake program we are supporting in the Southern department is rebuilding 40 houses for families who lost their homes in Cavaillon. The same program is also helping farmers grow food to eat and to sell on local markets, with access to credit.
Our work also promotes agro-ecological approaches that slow erosion produced by climate change. We are working with women farmers to strengthen their resilience and autonomy by offering them access to poultry and egg production and helping them to grow fruit and vegetables and to form and participate in cooperatives. Our approach is one of food sovereignty: to increase local food production and decrease dependence on food imports.
We are also working with women’s groups offering medical, legal and psycho-social assistance to the victims of gender-based violence. This work includes a broad program to raise awareness about the situation of women, with a focus on preventing and reducing violence; it also engages with groups of men, including musicians, and taxi and truck drivers, offering them role models for positive masculinity.
We are looking forward to increased political stability in Haiti, with a functional government that will allow our partners to work more efficiently to increase local agricultural production, feed rural communities and create income for small farmers. Such initiatives will reduce dependency on food imports. Increased political stability will allow some of our partners to develop initiatives in ecological tourism. We plan to continue to work with the communities benefiting from our post-earthquake programs. This work will involve long-term development initiatives that strengthen their resilience and reduce their vulnerability to future climate-related catastrophes.
Development and Peace has made an important contribution in Haiti and will continue to do so.
Economic and political context in which we accompany the Haitian people
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than half of its population live in extreme poverty and have considerable humanitarian needs.
In a male-dominated society, women are particularly vulnerable. Already impacted by gender-based violence, including femicide, women suffer discrimination and have reduced access to economic opportunities.
Although Haiti has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, it is one of the top three countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including soil erosion and intense meteorological phenomena such as hurricanes and floods. The country is also situated on important seismological fault lines.
Haiti is still reeling from the assassination of its unpopular president Jovenel Moïse, murdered in his bedroom on July 7, 2021. His killers remain at large, the parliament’s mandate has expired, and there is no real functioning government in the country. The power vacuum has allowed criminal gangs to proliferate and carry out kidnappings for ransom with impunity. State institutions have almost stopped functioning.
Just a month after the assassination of the president, another major earthquake of 7.2 on the Richter scale struck Haiti. This time, the earthquake hit the country’s southern peninsula, in the very same areas that were hard hit by Category 4 Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Contrary to the 2010 earthquake, which destroyed Port-au-Prince, the latest earthquake hit rural areas and had a lower death toll at around 2,500 (compared to 280,000 in 2010). However, more than 80,000 families lost their homes and schools, roads were damaged, and many farmers lost their harvests.
Today, criminal gangs control large parts of the country and block roads leading in and out of the capital. Fuel shortages have caused rampant inflation and food shortages. Many Haitians face food insecurity, and some face possible famine. Following the imposition of sanctions in November 2022, and to listen to the people in order to find lasting solutions.