The document is the result of a long process of training, reflection and dialogue between organizations from all over the country, led by some fifteen institutions and farmers’ movements. During a two-day forum held in Port-au-Prince on April 16 and 17, the document was presented to delegations representing the ten departments , as well as to organizations that had expressed their solidarity with the process. More than 300 people took part in the event, as well as two government institutions: the INHARA (National Haitian Institute of Agrarian Reform) and the CNSA (National Coordination of Food Security).
The preparation of this advocacy document started in 2012 when a number of farmers organisations, supported by some training institutions, searched for ways to develop participatory strategies so that the Haitian State would take into account the needs and demands of the rural society. To help the different groups in analysing the problems that affect them and to enable them to look for possible solutions themselves, an existing methodology of training-reflection and exchange was adapted for use by the farmers groups. Gradually, also urban popular organizations and associations of professionals, such as teachers, joined the process. Therefore, the demands and proposals don’t limit themselves to the rural areas but also include the working classes in the cities.
This six-year process has been supported by technical staff of the NGO GRAMIR (Groupe de Recherche et d’Appui en Milieu Rural), of PADA (Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif), backed up by several international organizations, among them several members of the COEH, for example “Entraide et Fraternité” from Belgium. At the start, the country was divided into three regions: the North, the South and the Centre, including the West. Each region took approximately two years to prepare specific documents per department and region. The first phase ended with the approval of the national demands and claims.
In an interview with the facilitator of the COEH in Haïti, Ricot Jean-Pierre of PAPDA stated: “The document presented at the forum is a national book of overviews, proposals and strategies that will enable the prime actors to agree on how to use the information to convince the authorities to put in place effective public policies”.
Mr. Jean-Pierre explained that the idea for this approach came from the observation that groups in Haiti often formulated their demands as simple wishes, without reflecting on the causes of their problems, without defining proposals that might help to solve these in a sustainable way, and above all without a strategy to mobilize larger groups. “We wanted to create alternatives for a sustainable change. And in order to do so, we needed the actors to be capable of innovation, of going beyond of what they see. We needed them to have a larger view of the process of change. We think we have taken a first step by creating this document. But many more steps are still needed to be taken”, said Jean-Pierre.
In fact, according to the process’ initiators, the approval of the roadmap is the successful conclusion of the first phase. Many more phases are to be covered. Preparation of this document has brought together many organization that were not in the habit of meeting one another, of working together talking about mutual problems. Jean-Pierre thinks that in order to move on, the organizations need to work differently, putting aside for example personal concerns, power struggles, the search for personal profiling to get individual funding, and to avoid all forms of retrieval.
“The roadmap carries within it a project for sustainable change in Haiti, but it does not belong to any political party, even though individual participants might be members of political parties. This document belongs to the social movement of all departments and the organizations may use it for discussions with whatever political party, querying their programs and deciding if their proposals and actions are in line with the change the organizations wish to obtain”.
The analyses have taken into account the traditional classification by economic, political, social and cultural sector. The national and international dimensions were also every time taken into account, considering the weight of international politics on the lives of the Haitian people. “We want to build a balance of power in favour of the peasantry, the poor, marginalized people, and therefore we need solidarity, both national and international”, thinks Jean-Pierre.
With regard to the rural environment in relation to the economy, the document is giving an analysis of the problems the family agriculture, which is the main agrarian system in the country, is facing, and the consequences of commercial policies on that system. It includes a plea in favour of agroecology, of a social and inclusive economy enabling farmers to have access to means of production. With respect to politics, the difficulties of representation of the rural areas within the political system, the organisation of participatory elections and decentralisation aimed at accessible basic social services are issues that are being presented in the document. In terms of culture, the document calls for appreciation of the historic and cultural heritage of Haiti, to restore the trust of the people in their country and to recreate the image of Haiti. As a whole, the document is based on the fulfilment of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Haitian population. To that end countless social problems are addressed, such as migration and youth unemployment, all by presenting proposals that might help solve these problems.
At the conclusion of the endorsement forum, a follow-up committee was formed, incorporating representatives from all the departments and of the main peasant movements of the country.
COEH representative in Haiti