From post-disaster solidarity to long-term development: The Haiti-Mexico Joint Committee of Civil Society for the reconstruction of Haiti

From post-disaster solidarity to long-term development: The Haiti-Mexico Joint Committee of Civil Society for the reconstruction of Haiti

The Haiti-Mexico Joint Committee of Civil Society for the reconstruction of Haiti (HMJC) is a South-South development cooperation programme created in 2010 by Mexican and Haitian CSOs after the earthquake. It is convened by Centro Lindavista, a Mexico City-based NGO which has been active in promoting CSO engagement with Mexican development cooperation. The HMJC operates as a platform for multi-stakeholder engagement, having agreed a five-year comprehensive reconstruction programme withovernment officials and the private sector and developed a set of criteria and guidelines for reconstruction work.

This case study argues that the most successful activities of the project have been the Committee’s agricultural initiatives that have focused on strengthening Haiti’s agricultural and rural economic development through farmer-to-farmer exchanges with Mexico.

Key points:

  • the Haiti-Mexico Joint Committee of Civil Society (HMJC) was perceived by all stakeholders as offering an alternative approach to the often top down infrastructure and housing projects promoted by international agencies. The strengths of the initiative were the emphasis on consulting with local people and being flexible to the needs of the community
  • a multi-stakeholder dialogue involving government, civil society and private sector resulted in the establishment of the Haiti-Mexico Joint Committee of Civil Society (HMJC). The HMJC had the objective of providing relief and long-term development assistance to Haiti one month after the earthquake and facilitated debate on development cooperation strategies. There has been a coordination challenge between stakeholders. Most private foundations, as a result, opted to work directly with the government, setting a public-private partnership mainly addressed at developing infrastructure projects

  • visits by Haitian farmers to Mexico offered them an opportunity to exchange knowledge with rural producers and learn new practices. Haitian people learned food storage and distribution techniques developed in Mexico, as well as the development of the cactus crop, nopal. The Haitian farmers emphasised the value of the learning process taking place in practice. For Mexican farmers, the exchange process was mainly valued as in intercultural experience in which they acted as “cultural ambassadors” of their country

  • the sense of ownership in this project largely derives from the attributes of adaptability and flexibility that are often characteristics of SSDC, particularly when promoted by CSOs. In this case, such a sense of ownership is strongly associated to the capacity developed by the members of the HMJC to listen and in corporate the priorities of the people

  • one of the challenges of the initiative has been achieving a plural and diverse group of civil society actors engaged in the project in Haiti. With a fragmented and weak civil society in Haiti, however, the project has focused mainly on Caritas Haiti and one district of the Catholic Church

  • transparency and accountability mechanisms of the initiative are largely internal within the HMJC. Financial reports are made to Cartias Mexicana as the main funder of the project, although accountability could be improved by establishing a public information mechanism by which any citizen could have access to information about the activities and budget of the HMJC

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.