We just returned from Haiti with a lot of exciting updates, including one very powerful success story about the unpredictable impact of a rainwater collection tank…
During our last visit to Haiti, we visited a rainwater collection system we helped construct in the community of Nan Riske in 2012. When we arrived, we learned some very exciting news. Not only is the facility still running well, thanks to the strong and consistent management of the local community group, but several other exciting activities have come out of the water facility’s success.
Using excess rainwater collected in the system’s tanks, the community has been able to plant several community gardens, which are growing such vegetables as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and beans. But, what was even more extraordinary was that we learned that the system has brought in enough money to start a savings and lending circle. The leaders of the community group that manage the water facility, GPDN (Groupe Paysan de Développement Nan Riske), were able to take a portion of the money collected from residents when they collect water for personal use and combine it with money from a group of residents that wanted to create a savings and lending opportunity in the community.
The lending circle now has 35 borrowers and a fund of almost $4,000 US dollars. Imagine turning 5 gourdes (the equivalent of 8 cents in US$), which is what is collected from residents for every two buckets of water they take from the system, and turning it into what is now a community fund of almost US$4,000!
Those are the unplanned, unpredictable successes (consequences) of strong community development, of a development project that is chosen, and truly owned and entirely managed by the local community. An honest and incredibly exciting example of sustainable development.
A new solar lighting project with Parsons School of Design
Building on the success of our solar street lamp installations in 2016 and 2017, we will be partnering with Parsons School of Design to implement a new solar lighting project. We will be working once again with professor and professional lighting designer Chad Groshart, a group of Parsons graduate students, several U.S. solar energy and lighting companies, and a group of local leaders on La Gonave to light up a key location on the island.
The new installation will take place in May, in the town of Anse-a-Galets, la Gonave’s most populated town and main port of entry. We are in the process of working with the local mayor to select the location where the installation will take place. Mayor Ernso Louissaint got a chance to visit Gran Sous and see the solar street lamps that were installed by APDAG. He was impressed with the project and proposed that similar installations be done across the commune, in all six communal sections of Anse-a-Galets. He followed up with Professor Groshart, and the two groups are now in discussions about this year’s installation site/s.
The first potential project involves Anse-a-Galet’s largest public square. It was recently renovated, but in order to make it available for residents at night, a working lighting system needs to be set up. When lit, the square will become a space where residents will be able to visit 24/7, students will be able to study after dark, and more merchants will be able to start small businesses and sell their goods. It will also be used for public gatherings and large town celebrations. With a solid lighting design and reliable solar energy, the square will be able to reach its full potential.
The second potential site involves a new walkway that is currently under construction at the wharf in Anse-a-Galets. The idea is to separate visitors and passengers arriving to the island by boat from the overwhelming loading and unloading of products and goods that have been shipped to the island. When lit, the walkway will bid visitors to the island a warm welcome, and allow passengers safer travel regardless of the time they are arriving to or departing from the island. La Gonave needs a sustainable source of energy and lighting, and we are trying to help the mayor bring such opportunities to the island.
“The realization of such a project will, to name just a few, promote the creation and growth of small businesses, allow more students the chance to study at night, and for more people to engage in recreational activities.” – Mayor Ernso Louissaint
In the past two years, this project has been supported by generous donors such as Atelier Ten Foundation, USAI Lighting, Bartco Lighting, Lumenwerx, Mercury Lighting, and several others. If you are interested in getting involved in this year’s solar lighting initiative, please contact us at email@example.com.
Important leadership workshops to take place on La Gonave in March
In March, we will be implementing a series of workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of local leaders and government authorities on the island of La Gonave, in partnership with CLE-Haiti, the Haitian Center for Leadership and Excellence. With the financial support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CLE has been carrying out what they call Leadership Development Certificate Programs in the north of Haiti, and will now be bringing that same program to La Gonave.
The workshops will begin with a conversation on development, specfically the definitions of sustainable and community-driven development. Participants will be asked to reflect on and share their knowledge of the island’s development history. Community resources will be mapped out and development priorities will begin to be identified. They will focus on strategies for addressing their priorities, which include citizen participation, developing partnerships, the mobilization of resources, and ensuring equal participation within the community.
“Organizational capacity building is both an end in itself and a means for increasing the power of citizens and communities.” – CLÉ Haiti
Participants will carry out exercises that include comparing municipal budgets, analyzing existing projects, and mapping local organizations and institutions. The goal is for leaders to strengthen their capacity in networking and communications, strategic planning and team management, and financial management and governance. At the end of the series, one day will be dedicated specifically to women’s leadership, and will include only female leaders from the island.
These workshops reinforce the skills of individual participants who then go back to the institutions they represent and share those skills, in order to increase their ability to improve living conditions in their communities. We are working with the materials provided to us last year by Georgetown University to come up with a set of indicators we will use to measure both the short-term and long-term impacts of these workshops. Stay tuned for more!
The Planning Phase for the Communal Development Plan is complete!
During our last trip to Haiti, we were able to sit with the team and finalize once and for all the plan and budget for the Communal Development Plan (CDP) project. We then traveled to La Gonave to present everything to Mayor Ernso Louissaint and one of the deputy mayors. We went over every line item in the budget, how the money would be spent and who would be managing what. We discussed each actor’s role and responsibilities, and went over the proposed timeline for implementation. Everyone is now up to speed and onboard with all the details.
We then divided up next steps, based on each person’s role within the project. The Mayor will be formally announcing, to the population and the appropriate government authorities, his intention to create an official communal development plan for the commune. He will also start the process to request the funds available in the Haitian Ministry of Planning (Ministère de la Planification et de la Coopération Externe) for such a project. Roots’ Field Director, Lineda Paul, and CEFCAD’s Philippe Fils-Aime have begun working on the indicators that will be used to monitor progress and measure the impact of the project. They are organizing and developing indicators to capture baseline data and others that will help measure changes (the impacts of the project) in the short, medium, and long-term.
Roots’ Executive Director, Chad Bissonnette, will be leading the efforts to secure the rest of the funding needed to implement the project. If you are interested in learning more or supporting this project, let us know.
Project Summary: We are working with our partner CEFCAD (Centre de Formation Citoyenne et d’Appui au Développement) and the Mayor of Anse-a-Galets to bring together leaders of local government and civil society on La Gonave and elaborate an official Communal Development Plan for the commune of Anse-a-Galets.
The strategic development plan will help harmonize the needs and priorities of the population, with the ultimate goal of helping local government officials and the local population be better equipped to manage their own development efforts.
The project will focus on strengthening knowledge and skills related to data collection, project management, budgeting and governance skills. It will help gather and distribute more information about the island (La Gonave), and create an opportunity for numerous diverse representatives from the municipality to come together and work on a common goal.
In the end, the Plan will serve as a guide for the development of the municipality and as a tool to attract partners and investors who can help realize the municipality’s development goals.
Our 6th Annual CT Dance Party & Fundraiser
For those of you in Connecticut and the surrounding area, our 6th Annual CT Dance Party (Fundraiser) will take place on Saturday, March 24th at 6pm at the Willimantic Elks Lodge.
Join us to celebrate the beginning of spring, while supporting the work of Roots of Development. Come out and enjoy live music with the Band Steppin’ Out, a cash bar, a big raffle and lots of fun, all with a special theme…BLING! So come dressed in your most flashy clothing and shiny (fake) jewelry. The more over-the-top the better!
Haitian art will be available for purchase. Plus, you can bring your own snacks (though no personal beverages allowed). Get your tickets in advance for only $25 by contacting Linda at (860) 428-2097 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tables can be reserved for groups of 8-10 people as well. Adults only event (21+).
Tickets will be available at the door for $30, but remember space is limited. The event has sold out the past two years!
All proceeds support Roots of Development.