After the earthquake hit the heart of Haiti on January 12th, 2010; international humanitarian aids with long chains of logistics are necessary to save lives and relief people. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising to assert that humanitarian aids can’t ever help to avoid the previous chronic impoverishment and deterioration of human conditions life in Haiti, unless ‘’serious reconstruction’’ is followed.
‘’Serious reconstruction’’ would refer not only to reconstruction of physical infrastructures like public infrastructures (schools, hospitals, bridges, etc.), but also and furthermore to the reconstruction of the local capacities to take the lead during and after the process. But this seems to be a thorough challenge for the international community, since far before the earthquake Haiti was listed among the ‘’failing states’’. How can be reconstructed some capacities which had never existed? Nevertheless, a so-called reconstruction without the Haitian people‘s commitment would be pure futility. The reconstruction to be sustainable should be from the grassroots needs with the national authorities acting proactively, otherwise the reconstruction of Haiti would a nice tower ready to collapse right after the international community’s departure. Thus, the lack of local capacities seems to lead to a dilemma regarding sustainable reconstruction.
Facing to this dilemma, some sectors support the idea to put the country under technical protectorate either with the UN or the USA. According to those sectors the local politic elitism, despite the lack of capacities, would be too corrupted and corrupting to take the lead in the reconstruction. But, due to technical and historical issues, protectorate as known appears to be the last possibility to be envisaged. People (public sector, private sector, civil societies, etc.) keep arguing on almost all contradictory strategies to reconstruct the country, except one: the possibility to mobilize strong capacities of the Haitian migrants to rebuild Haiti. This possibility refers to the concept known as ‘’co-development’’. Migrants after many skills and experiences gained in host countries could contribute to resuscitate or build local economies, social infrastructures and movements, restore the government and furthermost the governance for sustainable development to take place.
Haiti has particular potentialities in terms of co-development. According to the last report published by the Ministry of Interior on this issue, most of the communes have established formal partnership for social and economic development with their migrants in the outside. The Haitian migrants flow more funds onto Haiti than the international public development aids. But through this communication the stress would rather be on the migrants’ gained skills than their economic capacity. In Canada, France and the United States, Haitian migrants are well-known for their professional skills (as doctors, professors, engineers, economists, architects, senior researchers, politic activists, carpenters, etc.), not to mention about 100, 000 Haitians working specifically in construction in Dominican Republic. Some Haitian migrants have gained thorough experiences that the country critically needs for the reconstruction. Some of other has already taken leadership roles either in international governments or organizations.
Reconstruction of the country offers great opportunities to reinforce integration of the Diasporas. Institutional and legal barriers should be modified to ease integration and cooperation. The constitution of 1987 in use in Haiti is part of the toughest instruments which have kept so many Haitian migrants from participating in political decisions. The article 15 of the constitution forbids strictly Haitians with more than one nationality to take in part in elections, to run a ministry or public direction. The article 15 in the constitution exterminates the whole possibility for the migrants with more than one nationality to become the president, a minister, a director, etc. When the article 15 is craftily diverted political crises often rise. Recently senators and deputies have been dismissed; popular presidential candidates have been strictly rejected because of having more than one nationality.
So Haitian Diasporas have always been mistreated. Haiti is demanding their financial supports (which is the fruit of their hard work regarding their professional skills), but keeps barring them out. The treatment of the Haitian migrants is totally unfair. They are ‘’Haitians’’ to back up financially the local economy (the migrants funds were the first to be delivered in Haiti right on the day after the earthquake), but ‘’foreigners’’ when it comes to take decisions for the future of the country.
The new departure of Haiti is the opportunity to reconsider and reinforce the co-development. All the supports that Haiti could gain in a protectorate are basically findable in an effective co-development. This is to mean that Haiti could reconstruct itself in major part with minor international contribution. For this, fundamental changes are to take place under prominent local coordination based on local needs and capacities.
Haitian migrants should be facilitated- not only by their host country, also and furthermost by local authorities- so they can play their major role in the reconstruction. Co-development has helped some communes in Haiti to improve social basic services and have better local development planning. This could and should be thought in a global view for the whole country.
Edy Fils-Aime, is a specialist in local development.