I leave this afternoon for 13 days in Haiti. While that might not seem like a big deal, it was exactly two weeks ago that I found out I was going. Since then it has been a mad scramble of getting ready. I had to make sure that all my immunization shots are up to date, make sure that I have the right clothing, and read all the background documentation for the project that I am going to work on.
Let’s be clear, Haiti is not a country that evokes images of luxurious relaxing holidays. It has long been a challenged country with a long history of poverty. And that was before the devastating earthquake of 2010. In that 35 seconds when the ground shook buildings off their foundations in the densest part of the country, progress in the country was thrown back decades.
Over 250,000 people died in the earthquake, entire towns were flattened, infrastructure across the country was reduced to rubble and a proud people had to start over. The international community came to the rescue, as we do, providing aid and pledges of money to help a devastated country in desperate need. The international community is good at that. Rushing in to help in a time of crisis. But, soon the crisis passes and the eyes of the world shift to newer fresher crises around the world. And Haiti is left to her own crumbled devices.
That is where the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the City of Montreal and the Union des Municipalites du Quebec (UMQ) decided to step in. We have entered into a partnership with local Haitian governments, national and municipal, to work together to develop resilience at the local level. Our partnership, the Program de Cooperation Municipale Haiti/Canada (PCM) is concentrated on working with the local governments of the capital, Port Au Prince and the communities in the Region Des Palmes (Leogane, Gressier, Grand Goave and Petit Goave).
We are just entering the second phase of the program, PCM2, and over the next 5 years we are going to be working to help build local governance structures to allow the municipalities be in strong position to manage their cities. We will be working to help them establish waste collection systems and road systems. We will be working to help them establish their own sources of revenue at the local level, so that they are not solely reliant on the national or international governments. Our goal is that at the end of 5 years, these local governments become the model for the rest of the country.
Simple! What am I fretting about?
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