Haiti’s Progressive Success

August 2, 2012 By Paul Butler

After a devastating earthquake, multiple hurricanes, and a cholera epidemic, Haiti and its partners are taking steps forward to improve the living conditions of the people. The Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently visited Washington D.C. and spoke at numerous venues on the progress of Haiti’s efforts to rebuild after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Lamothe outlined his administration’s goals and aspirations to rebuild from the ground up with the help of American foreign assistance and public/private partnerships.

The recent democratic election that ushered in a new administration shows a step forward that will help reconstruct Haiti and provide the people with shelter, infrastructure, and reliable governance. Since he took office in 2011, President Michel Martelly and his cabinet have worked closely with USAID, American businesses, and a large number of NGO’s to continue the multilateral strategy for Haiti known as the Four Pillar System for Haiti. Coupled with the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the United States continues to provide agricultural and technical assistance to help develop the Haitian markets. Over 9,700 farmers have benefited from technology and fertilizer investments, resulting in increased rice, bean, and corn yields.

In a recent speech given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Prime Minister Lamothe outlined the five E’s of Haitian development: education, environment, equality, energy, and electricity. Lamothe emphasized the current need from the United States and the international community to help implement energy programs on the island to create renewable energy sources while creating jobs that will promote economic growth.

While over 900,000 students are now enjoying the benefits of free education and nearly a million previous tent dwellers have found government housing, Haiti still faces many obstacles.  500,000 people still live in the tent cities without jobs, and ad-hoc schools lack funding and books for children to learn properly. Other projects like the industrial park in the north plan to tackle poverty and promote development through job creation and investment. In partnership with South Korea and the InterAmerican Development Bank, USAID has created a plan to build a garment factory in North Haiti, which will provide over 20,000 permanent jobs for Haitian nationals. Although in the long-term strategic planning module it will provide economic support for over 120,000 Haitians, many still face extreme levels of poverty that must be addressed quickly.

The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and other programs sponsored by USAID are essential for strong diplomatic relations, development of Haiti, and the growth of democratic institutions. Through these tools, the United States will engage in mutually beneficial trade relations with Haiti, as well as a strong sense of economic and political stability in the Caribbean.