Ju, sèvis sanitè, militè [Water, sanitation, military]
Threats to Haitian’s development involve a series of historical and geographical challenges, many of which are not the fault of Haiti’s leadership or its people, or centuries of dependent allied relationships. However, blaming all of Haiti’s problems on history, geography, relationship’s with nations, and national mismanagement would not be the total situation. Many believe the reason for Haiti poverty can be summed up in one word: governance (Runde, 2015).
Many of my previous blogs have detailed Haiti’s political and governmental corruption issues. This blog addresses three other topics that are impacting Haiti’s socio-economic ability to grow and develop. Haiti is a product of extreme situations of natural disasters, military or armed conflict, forced migration, polluted water, poor sanitation and systematic injustices.
Haiti has the poorest rate of access to water and sanitation systems in the western hemisphere. These problems were exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake. Reported in 2010 only 69% of Haitians have access to a clean water source and 17% to sanitation facilities. This decrease from 1995 shows a wide disparity between urban and rural populations, as well as soil erosion and deforestation contributions (Gelting, Bliss, Patrick, Lockhart & Hendzel, 2013).
The lack of a clean water source and sanitation system contributed to a rapid onset of cholera epidemic resulting in approximately 666,674 deaths since 2013 and is still ongoing (Gelting et al, 2013). This has further diminished Haitian mortality. Furthermore, as far back as 1900, dysentery was reported due to impoverished conditions, overworked inhabitants, bad alimentation, absence of hygiene and meteorologic conditions. NGO’s stepping in has provided some health protection and improvements through a program called WASH [water, sanitation & hygiene]. Also, during the US occupation from 1915 to 1934, water and sanitation initiatives improved but still remained a challenge (Gelting et al, 2013). Many organization such as Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization (WHO), Service National d’Eau Potable (SNEP) and others, are providing technical assistance, governance and planning in improving water and sanitation infrastructures in Haiti.
The third factor is Haiti currently has no military. The former Haitian Armed Forces were disbanded in 1995. Current law enforcement consist of the Haitian National Police which is comprised of General Administrative Services, Administrative and Judicial Police, SWAT team, Presidential Protection Unit, and Coast Guard. Due to decades of coups and militia, Haiti’s Army, Navy and Air Forces were abolished in 1995 and exist only on paper (Wikipedia, 2016).
A paramilitary force of former Haitian soldiers, backed by the US and France, protected the country and expanded in manpower, forcibly occupying many of the decommissioned army posts and applying pressure to the government to reestablish of the military. In 2015 President Martelly formally announced the new military force called “Defense Force of Haiti” (Wikipedia, 2016).
Gelting, R., Bliss, K., Patrick, M., Lockhart, G., & Handzel, T. (2013). Water, sanitation and hygiene
in Haiti: Past, present and future. The American Journal of Topical Medicine and Hygiene, 89(4), 665-670.
Runde, D. (April 17, 2015). Haiti’s governance problems require tough love from donors. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielrunde/2015/04/17/haitis-governance-problems-require-tough-love-from-donors/#4a6f38bf53e6
Wikipedia the free encyclopedia (n.d). Military of Haiti. Retrieved April 2016, fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_Haiti