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Progress Reports and Discussion Points on Haiti

Last night I met with a good friend who is in New York on a short vacation from work in Haiti. The conversation covered many topics, but on a base level I wanted to simply know, “Do you see forward progress in recovery and development efforts in Haiti?” Her response began with, “It is slow, but yes there is definite progress and improvements being made. The cholera outbreak has obviously been a huge issue, but there has been progress.”

Over the last couple of weeks, it seems that there have been a growing number of reports assessing the effectiveness of relief and aid projects established in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquakes. This would make sense, as NGOs projects come up on their one year mark in country since the earthquake,  many are evaluating to see whether certain implemented programs and efforts are achieving their intended goals, or not.

At PDT, Simon Rimmele wrote a great blog highlighting some of the successes of the international efforts since the earthquake, and PDT’s country team , including Barbara Saint-Cirin and  Anne Merametdijan, regularly post updates on PDM-H’s (Peace Dividend Marketplace-Haiti) activities and accomplishments –including a report on a training program designed to help SMEs better understand procurement protocols of international organizations within Haiti.

Beyond PDT’s contributions, I have came across three interesting reports that I think are worth highlight:

1.      Paul Farmer’s feature in Foreign Policy online, 5 Lessons from Haiti’s Disaster, provides some interesting insight. I especially enjoyed point #2 “Don’t starve the government” as it touches on the difficult and contentious issue of state and institution building, especially when dealing with potentially corrupt regimes; and #1 “Jobs are everything” and #4 “Waste not, want not” which really speak to PDTs mission of aid effectiveness in places like Haiti, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.

2.      I also want to give a shout out to National Public Radio’s (NPR) Planet Money and their podcast on November 30, entitled What Your $3000 Bought in Haiti (thanks to Scott Gilmore’s tweet for alerting me to this podcast).

Enselm Simpliste, right, with Adrian Sengee, the founder of the l'Artibonite school

I have long been a huge fan of Planet Money, to me it takes at times relatively complex economic issues and presents them in a clear, understandable and even funny manner.  This is podcast touches on a myriad of issues as they relate to the current Haiti context, including: determining effective means of aid distribution; absorptive capacity of local partners and how this effects aid effectiveness; and the role and effectiveness of government agencies and NGOs in the implementation/oversight of relief and development projects.

3.     And finally for all of you number geeks out there, more of a tool than a report, but the US State Department and USAID recently launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. This site provides data and some analysis on U.S. Government foreign assistance funds around the world. The site is easy to use, allows for searches by sector or country, and allows for downloads of data sets.

U.S. Foreign Assistance, in Economic Development, to Haiti

To me, these pieces (and tools) offer something for us all –personnel in the field, staff at home offices, even interested and concerned citizens. They provide a venue and fodder to move the conversation forward, help facilitate the exchange of ideas and in the end hopefully move us all closer to understanding what is working, and what is not, in international relief and development.

Perhaps you know of other great resources for progress reports in Haiti? In the meantime, happy reading and keep discussions flowing!

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