A note from our colleagues at the Presbyterian Hunger Program
Recently, Grassroots International received an email from our partner Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA). It is translated below.PAPDA is a coalition of nine Haitian popular and non-governmental organizations which work with the Haitian popular movement to develop alternatives to the neo-liberal model of economic globalization, and has been a leading advocate of debt cancellation, food sovereignty and sustainable development. When the Haitian government moved to privatize certain industries, PAPDA worked with the unions and the business community to create strategies that would improve production and minimize cost without privatization.
Repost - from TransAfrica Forum (Jan 13 2009)
Yesterday Haiti suffered a massive earthquake, which registered a 7.3 on the Richter scale, just outside the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Initial reports are beginning to pour in on the devastation to both people and property. Grassroots International has set up an “Earthquake Response Fund for Haiti” to support our partners and meet the urgent needs of the population.
We picked up the phones as soon as we heard of the earthquake to speak with Haitian partners like Chavannes Jean Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP). Like the thousands of Haitian families in the U.S. trying to find out who was still alive, we quickly found that communication lines were broken or overtaxed. Eerily, our partners’ phones just ring and ring - no answer. In Chavannes’ case, we were able to reach his brother in New York who confirmed that he is still alive. For that we give thanks. But in truth, we are working with very little direct information.
Over the years, Grassroots International has had an opportunity to talk about rethinking emergency aid with our partners, including those in Haiti. Now, in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, those conversations and our funding principles continue to guide relief efforts.
GONAIVES, Haiti - Most of us would agree that there is a serious problem vis-a-vis access to food in the developing world. According to the UN food agency, there are now more than one billion undernourished people worldwide. The need to do something about the broken food system is especially apparent in Haiti, where I have been on a working assignment with Grassroots International for the past few weeks.
I spent the better part of last week crisscrossing Haiti’s arid Northwest with Grassroots International’s partner the National Congress of the Peasant’s Movement of Papay (MPNKP). MPNKP is best known to our allies and friends for their Creole Pig Repopulation project that we have supported for many years, and I was excited to follow up with families in far-off rural areas that our organization has not yet visited.
Throughout our time on the ground together, it became clear to me that it’s not just about the pigs—it’s about the organizing. The pig repopulation project represents this organizing.
I stopped in Gonaives to follow up with last year’s hurricane victims while traveling with Grassroots International’s partner the Peasant’s Movement of Papay (MPP) from Port-au-Prince to Haiti’s Northwest last week. Last year, hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hannah, and Ike ravaged the entire island causing immense suffering. The coastal low-land city of Gonaives -- which was almost entirely underwater during the disaster – witnessed more loss of life and livelihood than anywhere else during the storms.
Below is a blog by Salena Tramel, Grassroots International Program Coordinator for the Middle East and Haiti. It originally appeared on Huffington Post.
Here in Haiti, a country all too often characterized by internal instability, the biggest scandals of all have external origins. Just ask the Haitians.
Dr. Paul Farmer is slated to be the next head of the United States Agency for International Development. Farmer, long known for his outspoken criticism of U.S. developmental and other policies, could quite possibly be the one making many of them. USAID has continuously implemented the rules of the Washington Consensus – stabilization, structural adjustment, and export-led growth in the developing world. Over and over this code of conduct has failed the Global South, leaving countries without adequate public infrastructure such as healthcare.
As more cases of Swine Flu are reported across the globe, two kinds of opportunism seem to be spreading as well. First, non-profits spin the story to seek funding or media coverage for whatever portion of their work might overlap with the rising pandemic. Some are more relevant-and actually engaged-than others. Second, businesses might use the health scare for their own purposes.
In Egypt, pigs are being slaughtered to "prevent" the spread of swine flu in a country where even a single case of the illness has not yet been confirmed.
Grassroots International's partners in Haiti have joined with their Global South counterparts to demand an end to forcing countries to pay exorbitant debt to Northern countries whose failed economic policies helped cause the crisis in the first place.
The following is a summary of the Declaration of the Assembly of Movements struggling to overcome Debt domination put forth in Belem, Brazil:
We will be posting updates from the Dessalines Brigade in Haiti. Stay tuned.
Last month, a small delegation of four representatives of Via Campesina-Brazil arrived in Haiti. Their mission is to help the Haitian peasant movement in their efforts to build local sustainable agriculture practices and a popular education curriculum on food sovereignty. Besides solidarity and technical expertise, the delegation also brings agro-ecological seeds produced in agrarian reform settlements in Brazil to share with local families.
Peasant organizers in Haiti - including Grassroots International's partners and allies - are uniting their efforts to collaborate in rebuilding their country. These organizers plan and mobilize across the island, linking issues such as environmental degradation and food scarcity to failed agricultural and economic policy and demand political action. Their advocacy and education activities are centered on reducing prices of food by increasing natural production and warning that the international financial crisis could have a deadly impact on Haiti if economic and agricultural policies fail to change.
The British solidarity organization, the Haiti Support Group, today wrote to Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), requesting information about the type of rice that the organization is distributing in Haiti.
The Haiti Support Group is concerned about the nutritional content of the rice that the WFP is distributing to hundreds of thousands of hungry and starving Haitians. In particular, the organization is seeking reassurance that the WFP is not distributing imported rice that has undergone the usual commercial milling process, thereby considerably reducing the rice's mineral, vitamin, and fibre content.
Last August, just before Hurricane Fay smashed into Haiti, I spent the day with MOREPLA (Mouvman Revandikatif Peyizan Latibonit-Peasant Movement for Justice in the Artibonite), a local movement of rice producers that works with the coalition of Grassroots International's partner PAPDA (The Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development). Leaders from MOREPLA explained to me that rice producers in the Artibonite potentially could have the capacity to provide livelihoods for more than 200,000 people in a department (state) that suffers a 78% unemployment rate.
As Haitian waters recede - at least for now - aid and relief efforts are also diminishing for the nearly one million people who are in desperate need of emergency food. The wounds of this reality are particularly raw in the countryside where the majority is struggling to survive.
Several of Grassroots International's partners and allies in Haiti released a statement following the disastrous wave of hurricanes. In their own words, they describe the deeply rooted obstacles they must overcome to rebuild a better Haiti.