Information Technology Infrastructure: Global Economy and National Development in Haiti

Political and environmental chaos recently experienced in Haiti has damaged the economic sector and telecommunication infrastructure. Developmental data from Haiti show 3 major trends: inadequate social and economic development, insufficient benefits from the global economy, and poorly planned information technology infrastructure (ITI). The specific problem addressed in this study is a knowledge gap in the views of stakeholders within Haiti’s national culture on how the country’s ITI can be developed to better engage Haiti in 21st century global and digital economy. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the views of 48 expert participants regarding ITI development within Haiti’s national culture to better engage Haiti with the 21st century global and digital economy. To satisfy the goal of this exploratory research a case study research design was used, and data were collected from multiple sources including in- depth interviews of 48 participants, observational field notes, and archival documentation. The analysis of the archival data, online surveys, and semi-structured interviews of expert informants revealed that nationwide broadband internet availability has been achieved, which has resulted in internet usage increasing from 2% in 2002 to 12% in 2009. The study participants noted the lack of reliable access to electricity limits the implementation of ITI in the nation. Legislation and financial investment are needed to improve ITI in Haiti. The academic significance and social change implications of the study include filling the knowledge gap of the status of ITI in Haiti, helping the national development of a modernized ITI well-connected to the global economy, and a better quality of life for Haiti’s people.

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What’s Wrong with Haiti? Politics, Development, and Discourse in Port-au-Prince

This dissertation examines the pragmatic effects of discourse about development in Haiti. It focuses on discussions within and beyond two development organizations operating in Port-au- Prince, revealing the ways in which politics and development are intimately entangled. Attention to the idea of development and its associated practices are a common feature of everyday interactions and often seek to address the question of “What’s wrong with Haiti?” Much as this question implies failure, discussions on the topic of development attempt to diagnose deficiencies, identify historical causes, and imagine solutions in the form of directed social change. Development serves as a temporal frame through which ideas about action, agency, and causality are embedded. Highlighting a need for social improvement, development also represents a moral obligation. Debates attending to past development failures and future efforts often work to allocate responsibility in particular ways.

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Agrarian Change and Peasant Prospects in Haiti

Haiti is one of the poorest and most severely hunger-stricken countries in the world (GHI 2013). Its contradictions are jarring: although Haiti has the largest relative agrarian population in the Western Hemisphere and relatively less land inequality than the rest of the region (Smucker et al. 2000; Wiens and Sobrado 1998), it is extremely food insecure. Almost 90 percent of the rural population lives below the poverty line (FAO 2014; IFAD 2014), and Haiti relies on food imports for 60 percent of national consumption (OXFAM 2010). Some scholars argue that the spread of commodity relations, persistent rural class differentiation, and dispossession mean that most peasants can no longer reproduce themselves outside of markets, having been transformed into petty commodity producers with many households depending upon some degree of off-farm earnings (Bernstein 2001; Araghi 1995). Others, however, claim that ‘de-peasantization’ is far from inevitable, and stress that peasants continue to persist with varying relations to markets, still constitute a large share of humanity, and are actively fighting to defend their livelihoods (Ploeg 2009; Borras and Edelman 2008; McMichael 2006). At the broadest level, this dissertation explores contemporary struggles facing Haitian peasants in the belief that while they face extremely adverse circumstances, their continuing decline is far from inevitable. On the contrary, this dissertation is premised on the conviction that improving the livelihoods of peasant farmers is fundamental to reducing poverty and food insecurity in Haiti. More specifically, the papers in this dissertation explore various key aspects of Haiti’s agriculture and food system, including dietary aspirations, an intensifying agro-export push, and competing visions for rural development in the wake of the disastrous 2010 earthquake. Individually and collectively, considerable attention is given to some of the enduring legacies of the colonial period, and the interconnections between race, class, and food, while being sure to situate the cultural dimensions of peasant problems in their political economic context. This includes focusing heavily on the role played by dominant ‘development’ actors in Haiti (the foreign donor community; NGOs; the state; transnational corporations; domestic agribusinesses and merchant elites) and their relations with peasants in the post-earthquake period. The foundation of this dissertation is extensive field research conducted between November 2010 and July 2013 in a commune in Haiti’s Artibonite Department, the most important food producing part of the country. Field research involved a range of qualitative methods, including interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. My hope is that this dissertation offers a rich, deeply grounded contribution into some of the most crucial issues influencing agrarian change and food security in Haiti today, and provides valuable insights into agrarian change and peasant livelihoods and struggles in Haiti and beyond.

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American Food Aid: Disruption and Development in Haiti

Americans see themselves as a force for good in the world; many believe that richer nations like our own should help spread our material wealth with those in need, and provide stability to those whose lives are in turmoil. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Food for Peace program, a branch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a key American foreign aid presence in the developing world, President George W. Bush noted that “America has a special calling to come to [poor countries’] aid and we will do so with the compassion and generosity that have always defined the United States.” (USAID 2004: 2) Crossing political party lines, bureaucratic missions, and program designs, a “combination of American compassion together with the unmatched efficiency of our nation’s farmers” makes USAID one of the largest and most well-respected foreign aid providers in the world. (USAID 2004: 3)

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