At the moment, there are a lot of folks suffering in Haiti. People are being treated for injuries and grieving the loss of loved ones. Food and water are being distributed, and rubble is being cleared.
There is also a more coordinated, more Haitian-led response to this emergency, thanks to investments made in government agencies after the 2010 earthquake such as the Haitian Directorate for Civil Protection (CPD) and the creation of groups like the Haitian Diaspora Emergency Response Unit and the Haiti Response Coalition. Roots of Development is a member of both groups.
The Haiti Response Coalition, in partnership with a group of diaspora and Haiti-based organizations, recently launched a campaign calling on all those who operate in Haiti to pledge to a set of standards for a Haitian solution and a rights-based response to the disaster. Roots of Development has signed the pledge and urges others to read it and do the same. In its explanation of the campaign, the Coalition states the following:
“We hope the international community will respond swiftly to this latest tragedy as it has so generously in the past. But [also] move away from ‘fatal assistance,’ and support organizations that are a part of Haitian solutions respecting minimum standards in solidarity to a recovery that builds a more equitable Haiti for Haitians.”
As you know, this statement summarizes the principles that have guided Roots of Development’s work since our founding.
Roots of Development pledges to respect Haitian leadership and reinforce Haitian capacity.
Our approach to development – our very mission in fact – has been to work directly with local leaders, help them reinforce their capacity, and follow their lead. Roots of Development strongly believes this is the only way to do development respectfully and the only way to generate truly sustainable, long-term change.
Roots of Development pledges to align with and support long-term efforts.
While many countries around the world are exposed to the same threats (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts), the destruction and loss of life is incomparable to the level of devastation that Haiti regularly experiences. But Haiti and its people do not have to keep living through one disaster after another. By making long-term investments in the country’s infrastructure and leaders, we can help make it more resistant to these natural events.
We cannot view Haiti as an “emergency state” and only contribute profoundly when the country is facing a crisis. We need to support strategic, long-term commitments to strengthen the capacity of local leaders, who can build infrastructure, expand services, and improve quality of life. If we do not invest in sustainable development in Haiti, the country will be in no better shape the next time a disaster hits.
Please contribute to our strategic efforts in Haiti: www.rootsofdevelopment.org/donate
We rely on your ongoing financial support to sustain and expand our program and promote an alternative, more sustainable approach to development.
Chad W. Bissonnette