The United Nations and its partners this week launched a 20-year, $200 million environmental recovery program in south-west Haiti that aims to benefit more than 200,000 people and show that sustainable rural development, from fisheries to tourism, is indeed practical.
Lessons learned during the execution of the project, covering a land area of 780 square kilometres, about half the size of Greater London, and a marine area of 500 square kilometres, can be extended to the rest of Haiti, the poorest, least stable and most environmentally degraded country in the Western Hemisphere.
The Côte Sud (south coast) Initiative, jointly sponsored by UNEP and a consortium of partners including the Governments of Haiti and Norway, Catholic Relief Services, the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York and a host of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), comes as Haiti marks the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed 200,000 people and displaced some 1.3 million others, but it was designed a year before the disaster.
The UN program has a strong focus on aid coordination, national ownership and capacity-building of the Government and local partners to concurrently address the underlying drivers of poverty, environmental degradation, disaster vulnerability and lack of access to social services.
Ten communes, with an estimated population of 205,000 people, will benefit directly from the program, which will include reforestation, erosion control, fisheries management, mangrove rehabilitation and small business and tourism development, as well as improved access to water and sanitation, health and education.
Yesterday’s launch was made possible by an initial $14 million in grants from the Government of Norway, Catholic Relief Services and the Green Family Foundation.