This study is based primarily on in-depth tape-recorded interviews with hundreds of Haitians and Dominicans on both sides of the border. Fieldwork was undertaken directly by the two co-authors of this report. Murray assumed primary responsibility for interviews and chapters devoted to the Dominican side of the issues studied, and Smucker to the Haitian side of the border. Smucker accepted prime legal responsibility for the execution of the contract and for communication with USAID. He also undertook the final editing and synthesis of the report. In all other respects the work was totally collaborative.
This chapter examines the evolving trajectory and emerging lessons from twenty years of agroforestry project activities in Haiti that made it possible for more than 300 000 Haitian peasant households – over a third of the entire rural population of Haiti – to plant wood trees as a domesticated, income-generating crop on their holdings. Unusual popular enthusiasm for the project derived from several anthropological and technical design factors...
During ten years of operation, between 1981 and 1991, the Agroforestry Outreach Project (AOP) made it possible for some 200,000 peasant households throughout the ecologically and politically ravaged country of Haiti to plant over sixty million fast-growing wood tree seedlings on their land. The unexpected participation of as much as 20 percent of the entire rural population in this tree-planting effort vastly exceeded what anyone had anticipated. Several articles and reports (for example, Conway 1986; Murray 1984, 1987; Lowenthal 1989) have discussed the project's conceptual and methodological underpinnings; how it used anthropological theory and ethnographic methods to reformulate the relationship between trees and people in a manner acceptable to Haitian villagers...
In this paper I will be discussing the Agroforestry Outreach Project (AOP), a tree-planting project in rural Haiti in whose design and management there was an unusually high level of participation by several anthropologists. Though the details of this particular case are interesting in themselves, here they will be used principally as a vehicle for examining the relative advantages of "privatized" versus "collectivized" approaches to planned natural-resource interventions. Conservation advocates are often opposed to privatization. They correctly point out that the intrusion of an extractive, privatized income-generating approach to land where tropical forests currently stand leads more often than not to the destruction of natural biodiversity.
There is an interesting analogy between the reaction of the outside world to the popular language of Haiti on the one hand and, on the other to the popular religion. The language spoken by the Haitian people, Creole, used to be dismissed as merely a form of broken French. Scientific analysis of the structure of Creole, however, reveals that it is not a dialect of French (Hall, 1953: Valdman, 1980). Though possessing a French-derived vocabulary, Creole has an internal syntactic structure that in several crucial ways is quite unlike that of French and some scholars have posited West Africa elements in Creole clause structure.
This paper, dealing with the diffusion of technologically innovative tree planting strategies among the nonliterate population of rural Haiti, may seem to differ in its focus from the other papers in this volume, concerned as they are with the role of technological literacy. But the disparity is only apparent; there is a unifying underlying issue: Many of those writing about technological literacy are concerned with overcoming local barriers to the diffusion of innovative, appropriate technologies.
Having done anthropological fieldwork on the evolution of Haitian peasant land tenure, I was invited by USAID/Haiti in the late 1970s to carry out research exploring possible linkages between land tenure variables and the failure of most tree planting projects to motivate Haitian peasants to plant trees. I was specifically asked to assess the degree to which land tenure insecurity served as the principal disincentive to peasant tree planting.
Expatriate tree lovers, whether tourists or developmental planners, often leave Haiti with an upset stomach. Though during precolonial times the island Arawaks had reached a compromise with the forest, their market-oriented colonial successors saw trees as something to be removed. The Spaniards specialized in exporting wood from the eastern side of the island, whereas the French on the western third found it more profitable to clear the wood and produce sugar cane, coffee, and indigo for European markets.
This chapter describes an anthropological approach to environmental restoration that is currently being implemented in rural Haiti, and that has stimulated an historically unprecedented level of voluntary tree planting by Haitian peasants. The overall design of the Agroforestry Project has been described elsewhere (Murray 1984). In keeping with the theme of this volume, the discussion focuses upon the underlying design principles and institutional dimensions of the Project.
The following document is presented to Save the Children in fulfilment of a contract for consultation on the design of a project in rural Haiti. It will begin with an identification of the two competing approaches to project organization in the rural areas that have surfaced as controversial discussion points between SCF and the USAID mission in Haiti. This controversy should be seen in a positive light. It permits a rethinking of these issues in light of SCF objectives and philosophy, and the design of a compromise approach which permits effective work in rural Haiti.
The Catholicism of more than one postcolonial group in the New World has been described as a surface veneer masking a much deeper commitment to non-European cultural forms and value? A number of careful studies have been done of Haitian voodoo and the authors generally allude in passing to the superficial nature of Catholic elements in the cult. My own research among Haitian peasants has turned a number of important non-Christian elements.
Though differing in emphasis from each other, several attempts to explain rural Haitian poverty, including the field studies of Moral (1961) and the more recent literature searches by Zuvekas (1978) and Lundahl (1979), have concurred in their identification of deforestation and soil erosion as major impediments to economic well-being in rural Haiti. Largely in response to Zuvekas' findings, several planners in the late 70's, aware that large sums of money had been wasted on unsuccessful reforestation and erosion control projects in Haiti, asked whether the root of the failure might not lie in Haitian peasant land tenure insecurity, in an unwillingness on the part of the Haitian peasants to make long-term investments in land in which they felt they had little long-term security.