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Rural Development in Haiti May Not be a Panacea

Rural Development in Haiti May Not be a Panacea

Hoping to aid in Haiti’s recovery from the January 2010 earthquake, some political leaders and development officials looked at one problem deemed to be a persistent obstacle – overcrowded urban areas.  The solution?  Redevelopment of Haiti’s agricultural sector as a way of encouraging people to move out of cities, create a market for local food products and create jobs in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

For those proponents of this plan, The New York Times wrote recently, trying to fix one problem while ignoring others can be dangerous.  “But the vision has run up against Haitian reality: myriad economic and infrastructure deficiencies, the lack of credible opportunity in rural areas and the fading of international interest and funds. “  A controversial presidential election and the closing of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission have further clouded the atmosphere for effective development planning.

The article goes on to illustrate the promise and peril of rural development with the example of an experimental farming village called Papaye.  Although foreign aid money has helped Papaye to get off the ground and provide Haitians with a successful model, difficulties faced by the new farmers makes some of them second guess their involvement and hope for a return to city life.

Image credit: AFP/Voice of America