The Grand’ Anse Region
Rebuilding the Grand’Anse Region
Early in October 2016, Hurricane Matthew, the first Category 4 Hurricane to impact Haiti in over 50 years ravaged the Southern Region of Haiti which includes the Grand’Anse. The Grand’Anse, the Pilot Region of ESPWA’s Haiti Community Foundation Initiative was the hardest hit. Over 80% of housing and 95% of the schools were destroyed along with precious crops and hundreds of lives (too many)!
Although our network mourns the destruction that this apocalyptic disaster wrought in a matter of hours, we are determined to rebuild. Just before this disaster hit the Grand’Anse, we were working on setting up the Grand’Anse Regional Fund, the Haiti Community Foundation’s first regional Fund. Our focus was on the development of the region. We now have to address the communities’ relief needs and help them get back on their feet as fast as possible. The planning work that we have done “tèt ansamn” /heads together with the communities is vital as it is a blue print for the Grand’Anse community designed long-term plan and agenda.
The Challenges That We face
The Centralization of Aid
Aid providers are concentrating in Jeremie, the capital of the Grand’Anse. It is safer for them (as many have to face security issues and attacks of convoys), and this is what they know. At this stage, it is critical to decentralize aid because of the looming health and community development issues that aid centralization creates. Residents of other communities are converging to Jeremie to find aid even as the city is already in shambles and overpopulated. The systematic outcome in situations like these is that many people who engage in these migration patterns tend to remain (becoming statistics of poverty and dependency).
The other side of the equation is health. UNICEF, which is leading the WASH cluster established reported in October 2016 that cholera increased from 24 cases per month in Jeremie, to a frequency of 66 cases per day in city! For accuracy purposes, we must stress that one of the root causes of this exponential was the Hurricane’s flooding of latrines.
International NGO’s Lack of Community Connections
Whether aid providers convene through UN cluster agencies or whether they come together via the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), they are mostly International agencies which lack information and community connections. Communities are not engaged in the planning process and their needs are not prioritized.
The Looming Danger of Local Economic Decline and of The Development of a Culture of Dependency
Aid providers tend to bring goods as opposed to buying them from local businesses. They also tend to bring their own workers as opposed to hiring local individuals. The impact greatly undermines the economy, creates joblessness and increases the local population’s dependency on aid, charity and services. It is essential that sooner than later aid interventions focus on helping local residents get back on their feet and to become active contributors to the economy.
Our Planned Interventions
Our Central Committee which includes Alcendre Léopold, the President of the Grand’Anse Planning Committee and Francois Chavenet, the former President of the Grand’Anse Chamber of Commerce had a long strategic session regarding our short-term and mid-term strategy.
We have worked in the Grand’Anse over the past four years. Six hundred leaders from all sectors were involved through this very comprehensive process. A team of regional leaders designed, led and managed the process which inspired an unprecedented engagement from the part of community leaders. Thanks to this bottom-up, inclusive process, we were able to develop a strong, diverse and invested network of leaders in the region. It is an incredible asset… our strongest one.
Taking into consideration our limited resources, we plan to take the following steps to ensure maximum impact.
The first wave of aid has been distributed. We know at this stage that aid providers are not moving out of Jeremie. Communication has been restored to Jeremie, but the other communes are still unreachable by phone or WhatsApp. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has conducted a phone survey of the some Grand’Anse localities. They were only able to reach 15 out of 132 localities.
In order to obtain some specific information of the communes’ status, we have to go to them, reconnect with the key leaders of each and every sector in the communes (private, religious, civil society and government— “Local INGOs”) to conduct a very specific assessment and get their list of priorities. We will do then take two actions: 1) Develop a detailed report that we will share with the various aid agencies 2) Use this report and our ties to clusters to connect aid agencies to the various localities.
- Outreach and mobilization of Community Leaders Network
- Report development and distribution
- Connection to aid agencies to meet communities’ needs and priorities as best as we can
At this stage, local food cultivators know that they have to plant short-term crops to assure themselves a revenue stream. Traditionally, cultivators have a reserve of (short-term turnaround crops) corn, okra, spinach, beans and squash seeds for situations like these. The danger is that the destruction of trees has left plots of lands without shade. They have to take the chance. We will work with commune leaders and peasant networks, and small merchants to figure out how we can best help. Providing seeds, seedlings, tools, some subsidies, some interest-free loans may be the way we decide to help.
We are talking to Foundation Digicel, Fondation Sogebank and the COSPE (a consortium of private schools’ networks and organizations) to see how we expedite the rehabilitation of the schools which are in better shape.
The Priorities of the Grand’Anse Regional Fund
The Grand’Anse participatory planning process involved 600 leaders over two years. These leaders agreed on the following priorities:
- Basic services to guarantee the development of families and communities. More specifically, education, health, roads, safe water systems.
- Economic Development.
- Environment land use and planning.
The process gathered allowed the Foundation to do the following analysis:
- The departmental demand for basic services to guarantee human development seems a priority compared to the other vital sectors, with 51% of the votes of the representatives of the communities (as distributed: 17.4% of the investments shall go to education; 15.5% shall go to basic health; and 14.9% to infrastructures such as roads and agricultural fields or market places. Paradoxically, the demand for energy and for safe water and sanitation is very close to zero, reaching respectively 1.7% and 1%.
- Then comes, in the second position, the demand for economic development, with 35.9% of the choices of the participants (it is dominated by the agriculture sector with 28% of the votes, followed by fishing, tourism and animal breeding in a very low proportion with respectively 3.5%, 2.5% and 1.9%.).
- In the third position we find an ex aequo demand for the following subsectors: “spatial and political organization, environment and land planning”, with 5% of the votes.
- The commerce and industry sector was put in the fourth position, with only 4% of the votes; finally, the other subsectors such as sports, recreation, culture and tourism, at local or community levels, were very close to zero according to the votes of the participants in the workshops.
Graphic #01 and Table #01 provide for the synthesizing of the results (zero meaning that the representatives did not prioritize the sector at all, while the highest frequencies indicate the sectors in which they would like to invest their resources in priority).