MADRE was part of the group that enabled Haitian civil-society members, including Loune Viaud of MADRE partner organizations Zanmi Lasante and Partners in Health, to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus on July 27. This is the first time Haitian civil-society leaders have had the opportunity to speak directly to US policymakers.
In addition to facilitating the hearing, the Haitian Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) also presented a series of recommendations to the caucus, including some of those proposed by MADRE and our partners in our recent report Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women's Fight Against Rape.
Loune presented both on the current situation in Haiti and on top priorities for Haitians in the rebuilding effort following the January 2010 earthquake.
In Loune's words:
"We need Haitians to lead the reconstruction efforts. We need our partners to take a rights-based approach in the construction of a new Haiti. This means supporting the capacity and the leadership of both the Haitian government and Haitian communities. It means deferring to the experiences of Haitians and guaranteeing our participation in the rebuilding of our country. It means unconditionally respecting all of our human rights -- including the right to food, the right to decent housing and sanitation, the right to health, the right to potable water, the right to education and the right to security."
From the recommendations:
"Lack of coordination in the international community, but also between Haitians and the international community, has diminished the effectiveness of the relief efforts. IDP camps often form their own self governance committees, which are then left out of the decision making process by relief agencies. Cluster meetings are often closed to Haitian groups, isolating local grassroots leaders who are aware of peoples' needs more intimately than any outside relief group. Coordination must be improved between all actors and that Haitian civil society be allowed to take a lead in the implementation of relief efforts."
The hearing was an important step towards creating international policies that reflect the needs of the Haitian people in the reconstruction process.