USAID Field Report Haiti Jun 2005

Originally published
Program Description

In response to growing political turmoil in Haiti, the Office of Transition Initiatives started the Haiti Transition Initiative in May 2004 with implementing partner International Organization for Migration. The program emphasizes stability-building measures in key crisis spots through the implementation of quick, visible small projects and activities that promote peace with the following objectives: enhance citizen confidence and participation in peaceful political transition, with specific focus on disaffected communities; promote peaceful interaction among conflicted populations; and constructively engage groups that threaten the peaceful political transition.

Country Situation

Security climate spirals downward - Violent crimes intensified in June. Especially vulnerable were inhabitants of Cité Soleil and Bel Air in Port-au-Prince, where gang violence and operations by the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Hatian National Police saw significant loss of life and injury. More than 700 people have been killed in the past 10 months in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

U.S. government evacuation -- The U.S. Embassy reduced its head count, citing security concerns requring it to scale down its operations in Haiti. The official statement said the move would close the visa office to immigrants and non-immigrants seeking to travel to the United States. However, the embassy said that Haitians requiring urgent medical treatment or students would still be served by the office and that USAID and other key programs would continue.

MINUSTAH update -- The U.N. Security Council voted to send extra peacekeepers to Haiti for elections and extended its mandate until February 2006, when an elected government should take office. An additional 300 U.N. police will be deployed, along with 750 peacekeepers, to form a rapid-response unit to deal with violence in Port-au-Prince. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan requested U.S. troops for Haiti during a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although the United States remains focused on supporting a more robust response by the U.N. peacekeeping force, MINUSTAH, the Pentagon has been weighing a request from the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley, and other senior U.S. officials for American troops.

Elections -- As of the end of June, just over 200,000 of Haiti's 4.5 million eligible voters had registered to cast ballots in the forthcoming elections, with about a month left until registration ends. Only about 100 of 424 planned voter registration sites have opened, though an additional 117 centers are scheduled to open soon, according to Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council.

USAID/OTI Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

Twenty-two new grants were approved by the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in June 2005 for a total of $570,491, making June the busiest month for the program since its inception. OTI continues to support initiatives that mitigate tensions and promote peaceful and inclusive processes in conflict-prone neighborhoods by facilitating collaborative working relationships between ministries and local governments, and trust-building in critical communities of Port-au-Prince, Petit Goâve and other locations.

The Haiti Transition Initiative (HTI) worked in June to prepare the way for a rapid, large-scale expansion that will triple its size in the coming weeks. OTI and the International Organization for Migration have recently completed assessment visits to Cap Haïtien, Les Cayes and Hinche to determine the need for and feasibility of opening additional offices. In addition to stepping up programming in the capital and Petit Goâve, OTI has approved the establishment of a new HTI office in Cap Haïtien by the first half of July.

This growth is particularly significant in light of the deteriorating security situation in Port-au-Prince and around the country and is a sign that the program has attained a level of credibility that allows it to continue to function in places such as Cité Soleil and to begin operating in political strongholds such as Bel Air even as clashes continue between gangs and the Haitian police and U.N. forces.

B. Grants Activity Summary

HTI Office
New Grants in June
Total Committed
Amount ($)
Amount ($)
$ 69,750
$ 464,080
Petit Goâve
$ 610,377
St. Marc
$ 41,500
$ 499,074

HTI Port-au-Prince began the month by approving both a high-labor infrastructure project and a program of dance classes for youths. Construction will begin in the first week of July on Romulus Road, a project that will incorporate the U.N. gang disarmament program into the HTI implementation model. Some adults and older youths will work on the site, while other youths will participate in traditional dance classes with Haiti Tchaka Danse, which will be teaching trainers to organize classes and performances in 10 neglected neighborhoods in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

HTI continued its collaboration with the Port-au-Prince municipal water authority (CAMEP) with a series of projects in the Delmas 32 neighborhood. This largely informal area has a transient population, many of whom come from Bel Air and Cité Soleil in an effort to find a better life, and it has seen its population nearly double in recent years. CAMEP and HTI will improve the water reservoir, rehabilitate the existing public fountains, and construct five additional fountains to meet growing needs, as well as support the local nongovernmental organization responsible for overseeing the system.

In Petit Goâve, HTI entered a new part of town with three projects that will repair a bridge, provide street lighting and renovate a community school. Fort Liberté, located on the edge of Petit Goâve, has served as an entry and exit point for Lavalas and Convergence gang members and has suffered as a result. Because of insecurity on the road, community members began building their own local school so that children would not have to travel. This community initiative allowed the Ministry of Education to accelerate plans to extend its area of supervision to include Fort Liberté, and the ministry will be collaborating with HTI on project implementation. Also in Petit Goâve, construction has begun to rehabilitate the Lambi Club, the former cultural hub of the region. This will provide a space for future social/cultural activities in Petit Goâve.

Portail Montrouis, a neglected area in the southern part of St. Marc, will see the addition of new classroom space in the municipal school. The new classroom will be used for vocational training courses. Also, at the beginning of the month, the final two grants for Gonaïves were signed to complete the repair of the water system and rehabilitate an office for the justice of the peace. In response to the continuing high tensions in Gonaïves, OTI approved a final grant in the upper Artibonite to rehabilitate the chambers and courtroom of the local justice of the peace serving the shantytowns of Raboteau, L=F2t B=F2 Kanal and Descarreaux, sites of previous HTI job-creating interventions. This court is the first step toward justice for most Haitians, and the judge's role includes helping to mediate small-scale conflicts before they become full-blown civil disputes. This effort will provide short-term employment for 40 local residents. Although HTI is expanding elsewhere, it will begin phasing out activities in Gonaïves. Nevertheless, these projects were in development with government partners and will provide a valuable contribution to the reconstruction effort.

C. Indicators of Success

OTI has contributed to the formation of a new kind of group in the gang-ridden Martissant neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. United by a commitment to improving their community through hard work instead of violence, a group of young men formed "The Shovel Army" (l'Armée Pelle) after working together on the construction of the Ste. Bernadette Multi-Sport Center. These youths all decided to pick up shovels and work for themselves and their neighborhood instead of for a gang leader.

OTI has brought numerous employment opportunities to young men like those of the Shovel Army through projects such as the Martissant 1 Road construction and the Ste. Bernadette sports fields. These labor-intensive infrastructure projects, coupled with the social/recreational events that have accompanied them in these communities, have highlighted the positive role that the government can play in a neighborhood that creates the anti-violence conditions necessary for real public investment.

Members of the Shovel Army recently celebrated their accomplishments with the inaugural "Play for Peace" tournament at the Ste. Bernadette Multi-Sport Center. The spirit of these young men illustrates the positive impact of OTI programs and demonstrates that people do not need a weapon if they have the tools to succeed in other ways.


In the next month, USAID/OTI Haiti will:

- Coordinate with MINUSTAH and the USAID mission for the build-up of activities in targeted locations.

- Step up activities that target youth in an effort to provide alternatives to gang violence. Through the "Play for Peace" program, these activities will include sports tournaments and events in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture that will promote nonviolence.

- Attend a retreat with the International Organization for Migration to discuss the strategy for expanding the program and processes for working together while there is no OTI country representative on the ground.

For further information, please contact:

Katherine Donohue, OTI Haiti Program Manager, 202-712-0498, kdonohue@usaid.gov