Portt-au-Prince, Haiti Photo credit: Garry Pierre-Pierre

By Sam Bojarkski

Last February, Jacques Bingue and some friends sat down to eat at a seaside restaurant in Cap-Haitien. Not long after they arrived, the lights suddenly went out, he recalled. The staff remained calm, apparently unfazed by the occurrence. It took them about three to five minutes to turn on the restaurant’s backup generators, Bingue said.

Throughout Haiti, especially outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, the electricity grid is unreliable. This has produced impacts that range from inconvenience to human tragedy.

According to Wadson Desir, who currently lives in Laboule, the lack of lighting adds to the insecurity people often feel at night. Hospitals fail to accomplish basic tasks, and “people (have) passed away in an operating room because of a sudden black out,” he said.

Haiti also relies on relatively expensive sources – diesel and heavy fuel oil – for electricity. Meanwhile, deforestation threatens to deprive the country of wood, an energy source widely used for cooking fuel.

“Energy is one of the resources that you must use effectively if you want to have a decent quality of life,” Bingue said. “Haiti has never done that.”

Haiti’s energy mix

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Sam Bojarski

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America fellow. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and...