How buildOn Communities Endure Political Instability: Haiti
buildOn works in some of the economically poorest countries in the world––places wracked by years of colonialism, exploitation, and unstable governments. Because of this, these countries are more susceptible to political unrest and conflict, which exacerbates the cycle of poverty and illiteracy our community partners are working so hard to end.
When the communities we partner with are beset by not only economic hardship but political instability as well, we cannot afford to slow down our efforts to build schools, promote adult literacy, and get students back in classrooms. In these countries, our work is more important than ever.
Three buildOn countries––Haiti, Mali, and Burkina Faso––are currently experiencing significant political unrest. Despite these crises, buildOn is on track to build 88 schools, enroll 2,051 adults in literacy programs, and get 10,271 out-of-school students back into the classroom in these countries this year. Read on to see how buildOn and the communities we work with are continuing to work to improve lives through education even in the face of tremendous turmoil.
Haiti, the economically poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is currently experiencing a severe political and humanitarian crisis. Since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, the country has been without a democratically elected president. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has been in power since then, but his legitimacy is widely disputed.
Amid this instability, armed gangs are flourishing––they control large parts of the country, and violence is widespread. In July 2022, an outbreak of gang violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, left at least 89 people dead. Millions of Haitians are facing food insecurity, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming months.
In these conditions, working with communities is immensely difficult, but absolutely crucial. Fortunately, the communities we work with are in Les Cayes, a somewhat safer peninsula south of Port-au-Prince, while the majority of the violence is centralized in the capital.
Still, our staff are taking precautions to make sure they stay out of harm’s way and only go into the field when they know that it is safe to do so. They are monitoring the situation closely and adjust their field visits if necessary.
The main issue facing our buildOn teams in Haiti are the massive price increases that have come on the heels of the instability in the country. According to the U.S. State Department, the inflation rate in Haiti climbed as high as 49% this year—by comparison, the inflation rate that caused so much hardship in the United States over the past few years topped out at around 9%.
This inflation has rippled throughout all aspects of our work in Haiti. From the price of gas to transporting materials and workers to school sites to the prices of the materials themselves, it is far more expensive to build a school in Haiti than it was in years prior.
Despite all these challenges, buildOn communities in Haiti have constructed 9 schools this year, and are hoping to complete 11 by the end of the year. Our adult literacy and school enrollment programs continue to run as well–we’re aiming to have 1,025 adults enrolled in literacy programs and get 3,320 students back into the classroom by year’s end. Through education, the people of Haiti can create a brighter future for their country.
Visit our blog next week to hear how our team in Mali is also making an impact in the face of political instability.
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