Building Local Power During Crisis – March 2024

March 21, 2024

Dear Friend,

Here’s an update on the key issues facing Haiti during the current crisis, and what Roots and our Haitian partner, Rasin Devlopman, are doing to address them in the short- and long-term.

Just over a week ago, Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he would resign from his position following the creation of a transitionary council, proposed at a meeting of Caribbean nations and the United States in Jamaica. As laid out by President Ali of Guyana, the transitionary council will include six voting and two non-voting members, with places for representatives of the major political parties, private sector entities, civil society actors, and religious institutions. Our friends in Haiti have been calling the situation a crisis of leadership—one that spans government and civil society.

On the island of La Gonave, Rasin Devlopman has selected a new cohort of Volonte pou Chanjman (Agents of Change), who over the next two years will receive dozens of hours of training in leadership and project management skills. The new VPC received their first training last week—Introduction to Social Change.

Rasin is committed to fostering women leadership, not only through female membership in the Volonte pou Chanjman, but through women-specific programming as well. On International Women’s Day, Rasin launched their annual series of Fanm Djanm strong women’s workshops, this year on “Investing in Women for a Strong and Sustainable Community” and held an exhibition of female entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Following the announcement of Henry’s resignation, Kenyan officials halted plans to deploy the international police force that was authorized by the United Nations last October. The Kenyan government announced that they would wait for the installation of a new administration in Haiti before proceeding with the planned deployment.

The international aid system is also struggling to address the impacts of the crisis. The US Agency for International Development has pledged almost $60 million in aid, but few aid organizations have been operational since the beginning of March, as the gangs have blocked import and distribution routes, and many are concerned that the funding will not effectively reach those in greatest need.

Because Roots and Rasin operate on the principles of community-led development, our work together in Haiti has not ceased due to the chaos. Our allies have also continued to stand in solidarity with and support of Rasin and community-led solutions.

The Fanm kap Kondwi motorcycle program, for example (which has already graduated another cohort of 15 women this year), is also supported by Ayiti Community Trust, the Debley Foundation, BoulderShares, and the Charmante Rinvil Fund in 2024. Watch the video (left) to hear from the women of Fanm kap Kondwi.

In Haiti, gang violence has not abated, with the groups now controlling 80% of Port-au-Prince. Since March 1st, they have set two police stations on fire, attacked the international airport, halting all flights in and out of the country, and released almost 5,000 inmates from prison. This week, gangs raided communities in Port-au-Prince that had remained mostly peaceful, leaving more than a dozen dead.

On La Gonave, where the population is relatively sheltered from the violence, Rasin Devlopman is working to build social cohesion and give youth on La Gonave productive and healthy ways to spend their time and express themselves.

On January 26th, Rasin held a community dialogue session for young adults on motivation and self-discipline in the pursuit of personal goals, with more than thirty community members in attendance. Rasin also started a second round of swim lessons for youth on the island after the success of the pilot program last August.

1.4 million Haitians are on the verge of famine, and more than 4 million require food aid in a population of only 11.5 million. On La Gonave, food security is a top priority. The island is largely reliant on imports for food, which are few and far between during the current crisis.

Last year, Rasin organized an island-wide community forum on food security, held 9 Fanm Djanm workshops on women in agriculture, and supported multiple food security-focused projects.

Gad Manje, one such project, is undertaken in partnership with another local group, APPLAG. The Gad Manje project works to help people grow crops that can be harvested and preserved, conserving food for when crops are less plentiful.

Another group supported by Rasin, Koumbit Jaden, trains community members in the skills needed to plant homestead gardens to supplement their purchased food supply. Crops grown in these gardens can be harvested in 1-4 months, providing both quick and sustained relief.

If you want to support Haitian-led solutions like these, consider:


Charlie Estes
Strategic Initiatives & Communications Director

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