netWORK HAITI………….Blog

Articulating our vision… by Sarah Howard
February 11, 2010, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Visions


Creating coalitions for a resilient Haiti

The quote below is from our working draft—based upon discussions between Earthos Institute and Idea Hive people. We are seeking comments and suggested improvements that you may post here… and new working relationships that can lead to practical results under Haitian leadership.

“We believe that we have entered a period of ecological and economic turbulence, with climate change leading to more extreme weather events, massive reductions in global fish stocks, and large fluctuations in the price of carbon based fuels. Haiti is extremely likely to be adversely impacted by such events leading to further tragedy if the conventional rebuilding pathway is followed. We believe that there are pathways to rebuilding that can instead lead to a thriving, resilient Haiti.

Our vision is to support a Haitian-led rebuilding of Haiti that results in resilient Haitian communities within a healthy democratic nation.

Our mission is to support the creation of connected, cross-disciplinary coalitions that support a holistic rebuilding process of sustainable, interconnected Haitian communities. The process will simultaneously address issues of economic, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, and sustainable building practices.

We are proposing to create coalitions that link international resources with Haitian communities to support the rebuilding efforts through a cross-disciplinary, whole systems approach that yield tangible, measurable outcomes. Because of Haiti’s decentralized social system, we are proposing that each coalition focus on a community that is undergoing the rebuilding process, ensuring that the community has access to resources and processes that lead to resiliency. We are proposing that the coalitions will:

  • be comprised of cross-disciplinary members who each bring expertise/experience from an needed area, ie. economics, ecology, architecture, engineering, health care, education, community organizing, and anthropology;
  • foster and support the development of Haitian leadership and empowerment, seen as central to the rebuilding process;
  • include Haitian leaders and organizations, US and international NGOs, US and international organizations, professionals, and refugee organizations, among others;
  • identify the goals and desired outcomes of the rebuilding process through dialog and consensus, and then systematically address the barriers to implementation, engaging different groups and professionals as needed;
  • share best practices with each other and with the international community.
  • support the rebuilding efforts, and consider existing Haitian and international organizations that have been engaged in development work as the frontline support and rebuild system.
  • identify roles, responsibilities and boundaries of participating individuals and entities, ensuring that resources (human and physical) are effectively employed and that the goals are attained;
  • consider the potential impacts of climate change, peak oil, and other such issues that will likely emerge in the future upon decisions being made in the rebuilding process;
  • be committed to exploring and testing areas of innovation–not just technical, but also social, institutional, regulatory, etc.”

Relief 2.0: Agile Crisis Response in Haiti – A Conference by David
February 18, 2010, 8:47 am
Filed under: Event, Reference

Earlier this week I discovered and then connected to a very interesting conference happening at Stanford University on February 26th entitled Relief 2.0 in Haiti. Their pitch is this:

There’s been quite a bit of tension in the Haiti relief efforts between governments, NGOs and other large organized bodies and the spontaneous efforts of volunteers providing aid on the ground. The general public, fueled by media reporting, are questioning why aid has taking so long to reach victims. Large NGOs and government efforts have been hamstrung by their organizational design, communications silos and in ability to respond rapidly to a dynamic environment.

In contrast, ad-hoc, crowdsourced relief efforts championed by individuals and aided by social media, have been able to play a critical first responder role.

In Relief 2.0 we’ll take an inside look of an emergent phenomenon – Agile Crisis Response made possible by social media and crowdsourced solutions and look at lessons learned and concrete actions that can be applied to Haiti’s reconstruction effort.

From 2005 to 2010 and beyond…

When Katrina hit in 2005, many people in the United States responded to the federal government’s failure to provide aid in a timely fashion with horror.  The take-away from Katrina is that if disaster struck, we were on our own.  Note that in 2005, Facebook was limited to college students and Twitter was yet to be developed.  Mobile fundraising was in its infancy – only $250,000 was raised through mobile donations for Katrina.

This time, there has been an explosion of crowdsourcing assistance to Haiti. Individuals have created ad-hoc teams instantly, identified needs and problems through Twitter, brainstormed through Facebook wall comments, shared the situation on the ground with 30 second videos taken with Flip cameras and so on.

Unlike formal organizations who need to see credentials before they agree to cooperate (what organization are you with? what’s your title?), crowdsourced teams instantly do a reputation check through Google, Facebook profiles and Twitter streams.  In crowdsourced teams what counts is what you can do, not who you are.

These ad-hoc volunteer efforts are not chaotic nor are the volunteers interlopers.  Instead, they’ve taken behaviors and practices from the Agile Product Develoment Movement and applied them to create an emergent Agile Crisis Reponse movement.

Join the discussion and creation of solutions with experts from a diversity of fields, institutions, background and vision in 5 intense experience and theme based panels:

  1. Relief Assistance: Field Experience and Lessons Learned.
  2. Health Services in Crisis: Patient Data and Delivery of Medical Assistance.
  3. Restarting Education: Pre-existing conditions, present and future challenges.
  4. Social Entrepreneurship: The role of the enterprise in rebuilding a nation.
  5. Housing and Communities: Prospects for actual reconstruction of infrastructure.

Where should people NOT settle in the Haitian Landscape? by Philip Loheed
February 14, 2010, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Visions

The recent sequence of disasters in Haiti—earthquake, multiple hurricanes, etc.—dramatise the need for a general reevaluation of the location of settlements there. Areas that should be evaluated as constraints can be obvious—or more subtle:

  1. Fault lines and related unstable soils or karsts.
  2. Flood plains, including those subject to storm surges and tsunamis.
  3. Areas critical to restoration of habitats in support of biodiversity, notably including forest systems, wetlands, and significant marine environments.
  4. Contaminated or otherwise unsuitable soils.
  5. Historically inappropriate locations, and other special constraints.

Such a “national suitability analysis” can serve as a basis for a stable and sustainable series of new cities and settlements. More importantly, it can allow the new Haitian economy to be based upon latest and most competitively effective ideas and technologies.

This need is not unique to Haiti, but the massive destruction—similar to war-torn countries after WW II—creates several opportunities critical to the success of the rebuilding process. For example:

  1. Haiti can pioneer high technology urban agriculture in its settlements—becoming a world leader in sustainable food production and export. Techniques like rooftop aeroponics, vertical agriculture, and other new approaches exist, but have yet to be applied at scale within cities.
  2. Haiti can pioneer national energy self sufficiency.
  3. Haiti can pioneer modern waste treatment, groundwater recharge, and rainwater management technologies.
  4. Haiti can pioneer effectively sustainable earthquake resistant architecture to suit new live-work configurations.

All of these aspects and potentials can be actively supported and assisted by coalitions as imagined in netWORK HAITI.

Haiti’s $700 million agriculture blueprint by David
February 14, 2010, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Reference

This description of the Haitian Government’s plan for agricultural redevelopment was forwarded to us today.

Haiti’s $700 million agriculture blueprint
Government plan to tackle food production, earthquake displaced

by Sustainable Food News
January 29, 2010

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Friday called for international donors to support a $700 million investment plan in the agricultural sector drawn up by the Haitian government to repair earthquake damaged infrastructure, boost national food production and create employment for people fleeing Port-au-Prince.

The program, created by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, gives specific guidelines for international aid in the sector for the next 18 months.

It is one of the cornerstones of the government’s strategy to rebuild the country following the Jan. 12 earthquake.

FAO and the Inter-American Institute for Agriculture Cooperation signed an agreement with the Ministry to support the government’s plan.

FAO is leading the United Nations and NGO partners “cluster” (coordination group) in agriculture.

A meeting was held in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 27 attended by Joanas Gué, the Haitian Minister of Agriculture and his counterpart in the Dominican Republic, Salvador Jimenez and representatives of international aid organizations.

Food situation fragile
“The food situation in Haiti was already very fragile before the earthquake and Haiti was highly dependent on food imports,” said Alexander Jones, FAO Emergencies Response Manager in Haiti.
“With people moving back to the rural areas, growth in Haiti’s agricultural sector is now an urgent priority and the Haitian government’s plan does a very good job of laying down the immediate priorities.”

Almost 60 percent of Haitians lived in rural areas before the earthquake struck.

Haiti’s rural areas are desperately poor with 80 percent of the population surviving on the razor-edge of poverty with less than two dollars a day.

The Haitian government estimates in its blueprint around $32 million is needed now to buy urgent seeds, tools and fertilizers for farmers so that they can begin planting in March for the spring planting season which usually accounts for 60 percent of Haiti’s agricultural production.

Sugar refinery
Other short-term actions envisaged by the plan include the repair of the quake-damaged Darbonne sugar refinery near Léogane, protection of watersheds, reforestation, the rebuilding and reinforcing of collapsed riverbanks and damaged irrigation channels and the rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of feeder roads.

The government has also recommended the acquisition of thousands of tons of cereal, pulses and vegetable seeds, produced domestically and abroad, tools and fertilizers and support to the livestock sector for an eighteen month period.

Other priorities include the re-launch of a program to encourage the planting of nutritious sweet potatoes in all 10 of Haiti’s administrative departments and the building of storage facilities to stock food and grain to prepare the country for the upcoming hurricane season.

FAO will start activities along these priorities with the funds received from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Spain and the agency’s own funds.

In September 2008, the Haitian agricultural sector suffered severe damage from a series of back-to-back tropical storms and hurricanes from which parts of the country still have not recovered.