On October 4 and 5 in southern Haiti, Hurricane Matthew caused over a thousand deaths and immense destruction of houses, schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. In addition, farms, trees and animals were lost. Agricultural production and food security are now serious problems not only for the hurricane-impacted area but also for the rest of the country that depended on the country’s south for food supply.
Well funded NGOs are distributing much needed food, housing materials, medical aid, and seeds. But most of these NGOs are international groups that have been come in to the local areas and are distributing emergency aid directly, often pushing aside the local government or private organizations. Even in instances where they have involved local organizations, the well funded NGOs generally allow them a minor role and make little effort to help build local capacity. This was also a problem after the earthquake in 2010, but the international NGOs and their donors seem to have forgotten. Besides harming the local organizations, this disrupts their relationship with the local citizens. So now, in addition to recuperating their agriculture and building their food security and rebuilding their infrastructure, Haitians also have to rebuild their local institutions.
TCI‘s mandate is “to promote good governance and sustainable development through research, education, and technical support.” As such, TCI recognizes that the need for aid and the weakness of local institutions are simply two sides of the same problem, and that the only sustainable way to deliver aid is through local institutions. If you want to build resilience and sustainability, you have to avoid building local dependency on outside groups. It is equally important to strengthen people’s relationship with institutions that they can influence, not organizations whose leadership is distant and motivated by values and interests that the local citizens might not share or even be aware of.
Our response to Hurricane Matthew is to produce fruit trees for long term food security and income, and to distribute them to farmers, home gardeners, and school students through local organizations such as local government agencies, farmers’ associations, community organizations, schools, churches, and the scouts. Where needed, TCI will also train these organizations’ community workers so they can provide extension services in fruit production, processing and marketing that are the mainstay of food security and economic growth in Haiti’s south.
Readers are invited to join us in this response and donate a tree to a farmer, home gardener, or school student in Haiti’s south. This is sustainable aid, not short term giveaway. Our large scale approach, matching program, and zero overhead mean that for every donation of ten dollars we can deliver two fruit trees and a year of tech support. Please click on our Paypal link on our home page to make your gift.
TCI is a 501c3 charity. Your gift is tax deductible. Thank you!