Robert Maguire, Elliott School of International Affairs
Jean Robert Brutus, Ministry of Social Affairs, Government of Haiti
Claudette Werleigh, ITECA & former Prime Minister of Haiti
Bernard Ethéart, Author & FONHDILAC
Participation & Inclusion
Reporting from Nicholas Johnson.
During the Participation & Inclusion panel of the Voices of Haiti’s Voiceless: Post-Earthquake Aspirations & Achievements symposium, the terms most discussed were commitment and respect. These two characteristics were identified through discussions of both current and closed development projects.
Jean Robert Brutus, speaking from the perspective of a citizen rather than as a representative for the government, discussed his observations of development policy since the earthquake, and concluded that there is “no easy answer to the question of ‘have we seen progress sine the earthquake?'” In his examination of post-earthquake aid, Brutus discussed a UN Special Envoy to Haiti report citing there ‘had not been any major change in the beneficiaries of funding or methods of delivery’ since the earthquake. Brutus discussed his current work with a development program and his belief that development policy should continue to move towards the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
Brutus discussed these principles further by identifying the need for true participation and local decision making, as well as the development of long-term project planning. Ultimately, Brutus believes that development planners must build the capacity of the government to ensure program continuity after the formal project ends. Brutus stated that current issues regarding human resources, among other things, hinder the government’s ability to manage mass capacity programs, but that over time funding of the government should become as mainstream as the funding of NGOs and contractors. Brutus ended his discussion stating “Trust, trust is needed.”
Bernard Ethéart discussed the history of his work on land tenure issues with NGOs and development projects throughout Haiti. During his analysis, Ethéart discussed some of the difficulties of the current laws and institutions in Haiti, which can prevent the establishment of local development organizations and associations. Another story Ethéart discussed brought laughter from the audience when he recounted how foreign development organizations he had worked with often focused on fundraising before project planning, resulting in the paradox of ‘we have the money, what are we going to do with it?’ Ethéart stated that ultimately, the long term process of responsibilization, the transfer of responsibilities and respect to Haitian organizations from development organizations would create long-term participation and inclusion.
In remarks from the discussion period, Claudette Werleigh mentioned the process of building an organization that is focused on both ‘immediate goals, things that we can achieve’ and long term development plans. Organizations should exist not only to please the donors with immediate project success and visibility, but also to develop and fulfill long term development strategies. This sentiment was echoed by Brutus, who stated ‘sustainable results don’t always have immediate payoffs.’
In conclusion, the panel identified that while short term interventions may be necessary, they must be coupled with long term outcomes. The responsibilization of local organizations and the development of program goals outside of donor objectives and timeframes will promote the true participation and inclusion of Haitians in their own development.