An ambitious erosion-reduction effort offers hope in a time of tragedy
By William Wheeler in Haiti
for National Geographic News
Published January 13, 2011
…Many scientists and policymakers have long recognized the consequences of charcoal dependency. A better strategy for Haitian farmers, according to a 2008 economist’s report commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, would be to plant high-value mango trees for export. A tree-cutting tax could be established to subsidize alternative jobs for charcoal producers—as tree-planters and park rangers. But poor farmers, who have been largely cut out of export profits, traditionally choose subsistence farming. Changing the incentives would require strong government leadership—and a lack of such leadership was an obstacle to the larger reconstruction effort even before elections in late November were marred by fraud and touched off unrest, according to analysts.
Without a strong government committed to addressing these problems in Haiti, environmental rehabilitation programs have had, at best, mixed results. Common failures among such projects, which have received a total of $391 million since 1990, according to the Haiti Regeneration Initiative, include a lack of coordination among international aid organizations and government ministries, a failure to provide alternative jobs and secure local participation, and a history of “short-term interventions applied to long-term issues.”…
Read more: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110113-haiti-cholera-reforestation-water-floods-hurricane-earthquake/