International Humanity projects in Haiti
Baie de Henne is located in the northwest of Haiti appropriately 100 km north of the city of Gonaives. It is one of the least developed regions in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. In this 200 km2 mountainous region, bordered to the west by the sea, live 10,000 people. Villages in the region are accessible only by four-wheel drive off-road vehicles. While the illiteracy level for Haiti as a whole is 50%, in Baie de Henne it exceeds 70%, while four fifths of Haiti’s population lives in poverty, for Baie de Henne this figure is over 90%. Here it is possible to carry out decentralized but mutually coordinated projects that would assist the local population to markedly improve the quality of their lives. Paradoxically, this is possible precisely because the region is so remote from the capital and so poor and neglected.
The list of following priority projects which are not excessively financially demanding but are possible to complete within a short period (4-5 years) has been prepared. In this way, it is possible to give local inhabitants hope that they can within the foreseeable future significantly improve their own lives and the lives of their children if they are willing to actively participate (for example through entrepreneurship with the help of microcredits).
The Executive Board approved participation of International Humanity in following projects proposed by the Agency for Development and Humanitarian Aid of the
Olomouc Region and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of University Palacky:
1. Clean water for Baie de Henne
The inhabitants have at their disposal only contaminated water, which is often the cause of serious infectious diseases (particularly among children). The goal of this project is to obtain financial resources which would provide for the purchase and installation of new solar panels. Making safe drinking water accessible will play a major part in improving the health of the inhabitants.
2. Medical center
A medical center built with the help of Japanese development assistance already stands in Baie de Henne. It used to be staffed by two Cuban doctors, but it is currently closed and there are no doctors working in the entire region.
This medical center should be staffed year-round by at least one doctor and one nurse. An alternate solution would be to staff the medical center with doctors for 1-3 months on a rotating basis according to their ability to obtain leave from their home institutions.
In addition to the staff of the medical center six local women should be trained to serve as nurses and midwives for the entire region. Their training would be carried out by a qualified physician. After completing this training, these nurses and midwives must be equipped for work in the terrain with a medical kit containing essential medical equipment and loaned a motorbike.
Equipping the Medical Center:
The medical center will require a laboratory with basic equipment (microscope, equipment for blood tests, etc.), as well as an inpatient ward (3-4 beds), an examination room, and a aseptic room suitable for surgical procedures (an “operating theater”). It would also be desirable to have one room equipped for essential dental procedures.
3. Completion of the Construction of an Elementary School.
A state-run school already exists in Baie de Henne, but is in a desolate condition. In theory, Haiti provides free universal six-year schooling. Teachers throughout the country, however, have not been paid in three years, and for this reason almost no teaching currently takes place in the state schools. It is therefore not surprising that half the population of Haiti is illiterate, and in rural areas (including Baie de Henne) illiteracy reaches 70-80%.
Currently the construction work on a school with a capacity of 500 students and a total budget of 200 000 USD in ongoing, which should notably improve the situation. The basic structure of the building is already complete, but it is still necessary to complete the remaining construction work and obtain basic equipment for the school. Therefore it is necessary to raise another 80 000 USD.
4. Child Sponsorship
This is world-wide project in which people (individuals, families, school classes, etc.) can “sponsor” a child in a developing country and contribute to fulfilling his or her educational, nutritional, clothing, and other needs.
In Baie de Henne250 children are currently in need of such assistance. In this way, not only will the sponsored children be assured their essential needs, but the sponsorship also alleviates the situation for the entire family.
The cost of sponsoring one child for one year is 300 USD/year.
5. Development of Entrepreneurship by Means of Microcredits
Currently there are no functioning organizations, businesses, or farming cooperatives in Baie de Henne. The absence of such institutions leads young people in their productive years to leave the region and move to the cities, primarily Port au Prince or Gonaives, in search of a better life.
A key to improving the living standard of the population is to assure that the people in the community are to an increasing degree able to provide for themselves and are not forced to resort to subsistence farming. Support for the trades and entrepreneurship by means of microcredits (first used successfully in Bangladesh in the 1970s) is essential in this process.
An appropriate first step in this direction for Baie de Henne would be the purchase of 2 - 3 sewing machines, train a number of locals to work with them, and purchase materials. In this way it would be possible to set up a “sewing shop” which could produce shirts and other clothing for local inhabitants, for sale at markets in near-by cities, and possibly for export within the context of “fair trade.”
Another step would be the purchase and subsequent sale (at a reasonable profit) of food products not in sufficient supply but nonetheless in demand in Baie de Henne. The profits would be invested into the purchase of more foodstuffs (and other goods in demand) and a portion would be divided among those involved in the enterprise. Most likely it will be necessary for a reliable person of Haitian origin to coordinate and be responsible for this project, preferably a num from a local order.
- purchase of sewing machines: 1 000 USD
- purchase of fabric and basic training: 1 500 USD
- loan for the purchase and subsequent sale of foodstuffs: 1 000 USD (in the event of positive results, it would be desirable to increase the financing of this project)
Other areas which have the potential of benefiting from microcredits is fishing (first and foremost for the purchase of boats and nets which would allow fishing further from the coast and potentially on the high seas) and agriculture (primarily the raising of chickens, goats and pigs). It will be appropriate to support these projects on the basis of experience obtained from the previously mentioned forms of small-scale entrepreneurship.
6. Construction of a Marketplace
Just as there are no functioning businesses in Baie de Henne, there is also no marketplace. As a result it also lacks a natural public meeting place. In addition, there is not any other social meeting place which could serve as a location for locals to gather.
Along with development entrepreneurship and microcredits, it is necessary to create a simple public marketplace in Baie de Henne. Such a marketplace is relatively easy to create (washable concrete tables protected from the sun and rain by wood or plastic roves would suffice).
7. Construction of a Sports Ground
A major problem in Baie de Henne is “boredom” or the lack of meaningful use of one’s free time. This problem is most felt by children and young people for whom sports are a meaningful use of free time; unfortunately, there is currently no area in the village or in its vicinity that can be used as a sports field.
We presume to build one football field, one multipurpose sports area (suitable for volleyball, tennis, basketball, etc.), and 1-2 playgrounds for children (simple and durable slides, swings, etc.)
The sports area can have a concrete surface. In this case it will be financially accessible, sufficiently durable and can be build by the inhabitants themselves.
8. Agricultural Development, Reforestation Projects
Agricultural development (primarily crop production) under local conditions is dependent on irrigation. Obtaining sufficient water and its transportation to fields is demanding in terms of both finances and labor. As for forestry, 98% of the forest in Haiti as a whole have been destroyed, and the area around Baie de Henne, which is now a semiarid region is no exception. Even the bush is under severe human pressure. The locals produce large quantities of charcoal for their own needs and for sale in larger towns.
Labor for irrigation projects could be obtained by means of “community service” on the part of local inhabitants. Parents who cannot afford to pay their children’s tuition, for example, could do public work in exchange. A similar means of repayment could be used in respect to access to safe drinking water, microcredits, and other projects.
In the same way it would be possible to create a reforestation project. Should this be undertaken, it would be necessary to have resources available not only for planting trees, but also their conservation for a number of years. Locals would thus acquire a welcome source of income that would be dependent on the healthy state of the reforested area. In this way the temptation to quickly harvest the new trees for use a fuel would be diminished.
9. Construction of a Water Distribution and Sewage System and a Wastewater Treatment Facility
Baie de Henne has neither a water distribution nor sewage system. The problem of waste disposal has also not been addressed in the past. This situation is naturally associated with the occurrence and easy spread of infectious diseases.
Here too it is desirable to take advantage of community service by local inhabitants in exchange for remuneration of tuition expenses and other services.
Another element of this project would also be the transfer of skills to inhabitants, including the construction of simple sanitary toilets, how to compost organic waste, basic separation and use of inorganic waste, and similar skills.
10. Clean Energy for Baie de Henne
Currently the people of Baie de Henne burn firewood as their primary source of energy (for cooking and heating). Under local conditions, however, it is sometimes bushes and cacti which are converted into charcoal. This obviously has a devastating effect on the surrounding countryside. The import of fossil fuels is impractical, first because of the inaccessibility of the region, and second because the costs of these fuels are far too high for the locals. The only remaining alternatives are renewable sources of energy, the most promising of which are solar and wind power.
It is preferable in the context of development projects to supply electricity first and foremost to buildings which serve the entire community (the school, medical center, etc.)
11. Establishment of a Secondary School (or a vocational school for the development of trades)
A serious problem in this isolated region is that even when children complete six years of schooling and are literate they have no opportunity to find work in the place they live and thus leave for larger cities (particularly the capital city Port au Prince) where they usually end up in impoverished slums.
It is necessary to continue elementary school with a higher level of education where young people can learn a trade useful in the local community (bricklaying, carpentry, cabinet making, stone masonry for men; and for women sewing, cooking, producing baskets and bags for sale, etc.). Baie de Henne has currently one essentially nonfunctioning school
12. Specialized Health Project: Prevention of Childhood Polio
The inhabitants of Baie de Henne, like the rest of Haiti, are plagued by a number of infectious diseases derived from bad sanitary conditions and the lack of access to non-contaminated water. According to previous information from the World Health Organization (WHO), polio has been eradicated in Haiti. We have, however, reason to believe that particularly in rural areas polio likely still appears.
Administrators and doctors from larger towns are uninterested in traveling to remote regions to do inspections. This may be why the WHO receives imprecise and distorted information. This would not be the first time this has happened. In the second half of the 20th century Haiti declared that it had eradicated leprosy. A few years after that missionaries who had previous experience with lepers in Cambodia, discovered a thousand cases of this disease over the course of a few years. In the end this was confirmed and recognized by the WHO.
We therefore propose a special project to confirm the existence of polio by tracking down suspected cases, taking biological specimens and subsequent laboratory diagnosis in certified lab. If the polio is confirmed the WHO will be immediately notified and assistance will be sought. The ideal solution would be the vaccination of the entire population of Haiti or at least the entire population of Baie de Henne. Currently the vaccination rate of the pediatric population under 5 years of age in Haiti is below 45%.
The advantage of polio is that it is possible to eradicate, similar to the way smallpox was eradicated in the 1970s thanks to the efforts of the WHO. A successful project of preventing polio can therefore have a positive effect on the implementation of other health campaigns aimed at eliminating other preventable illnesses that are still present in Haiti and Baie de Henne. In particular the occurrence of tuberculosis, AIDS, malaria, etc.
The projects proposed under this framework “Partnership for Development of the Baie de Henne” form an integral body of stand-alone yet mutually complementary projects that will help improve the quality of life of the local people as well as give them and others hope that change for the better is possible. The projects should be completed over the course of 4-5 years in a decentralized but coordinated way. As a result, it is possible to seek separate independent sponsors for each project. The successful completion of one project improves the prospects for others, conversely, the failure or insufficient financing of any particular project does not fundamentally effect the implementation of the others.
Over the next five years, however, it is realistic to notably improve the quality of life of the local inhabitants, and above all, to help them reach a position where they will be able to help themselves. Without any initial stimulation, expressed for example in the form of microcredits for the development of entrepreneurship, this is not possible.
The success of the “Partnership for Development of the Baie de Henne” will not only provide the inhabitants an opportunity for a better tomorrow, but can also serve as a success story for all Haitians.
Facts about Haiti
Total area: 27,750 sq km (27,560 sq km land, 190 sq km water)
Climate: tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds
Terrain: mostly rough and mountainous
Land use: arable land 28.3%, permanent crops 11.61%, other 60.09%
Irrigated land: 750 sq km
Infant mortality rate: 73.45 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: 51.58 years
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.6% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 280,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 24,000 (2003 est.)
Literacy (definition: age 15 and over can read and write): 52.9%
Population below poverty line: 80% (2003 est.)
Debt – external: 1.2 billion USD (2004)
International Humanity UK has also provided AIDS/HIV and malaria education materials for Zambia.
Members of INTERNATIONAL HUMANITY have organised in the past aid addressing also the needs of health-care institutions in Mexico, Brazil and Egypt.