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The Board of Directors of the World Bank have approved US$102m grant for agricultural resilience and food security program, le Projet d’Agriculture Résiliente pour la Sécurité Alimentaire (PARSA), and another US$30m for the accessibility and rural resiliency program in the country. The first project is expected to help approximately 75,000 households in the agricultural sector (which translates to around 375,000 beneficiaries) with the expected goal of improving access to food security, guaranteeing rural living and strengthening resilience to hazards caused by climate change. Another project that targets the transportation sector seeks to enhance all-weather road accessibility in the earthquake affected areas while also improving the resilience of the road network across the country.  According to Laurent Msellati, Head of World Bank Operations in Haiti, the powerful earthquake of 2021 caused significant damage in the southern peninsula, aggravating the already precarious condition of food insecurity in these departments as thousands of farmers lost their livelihoods as well as access to markets. The project will support sustainable agriculture and land management practices and the rehabilitation of rural infrastructure, in order to promote more resilient local food production systems and ensure inclusive economic growth. The Bank spokesperson went on to point out that Haiti suffers high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition as shown in the most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) which estimates that, in September 2021, 4.4 million people were in crisis of food insecurity, with this number expected to rise to 4.6 million by June 2022 due to reduced access to basic foodstuffs as incomes remain low and prices rise. In addition, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and storms, have a detrimental effect on crops, infrastructure and agricultural assets, affecting rural livelihoods.  The Resilient Agriculture for Food Security Project (PARSA) will boost the agricultural sector through the rehabilitation of productive infrastructure and the creation of temporary employment opportunities, in-kind grants and technical support to promote increased access and availability of nutritious foods. The project will strongly target women, who play a leading role in agricultural production and sales. The project will be implemented both in regions facing serious food security problems and in areas affected by the earthquake, such as the South, Grand’Anse, Nippes and Central Departments.

Meanwhile, seven (7) US congress members have called on President Joe Biden to withdraw his support for interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry and allow the Haitian people to create a transition program that is democratic and lead by civil society. In a letter to the president by the lawmakers who are said to be deeply concerned about the current crisis in the country, they asked the president to allow Haitians to forge their own destiny and create a society that is conducive to them, by supporting the political consensus forged among the political actors in the country, civil society organizations, religious leaders and business sectors respectively, to create a democratic transitional government led by civil society. The Lawmakers further noted that any steps to bring about such a transition has limited chances of success if the US continues to support the de facto government of Ariel Henry, who they believe has no interest in negotiating in good faith, while enjoying the unconditional support of the United States. The letter went on to point out that the US need to break its current policy towards Haiti, because certain aspects of the foreign policy has undermined the development, peace and security of the country. The elected officials added that the time is right to correct some of past mistakes and support the Haitian people to put their country on the path to true democracy, as there is a growing number of actors from civil society, the private sector and political organizations who have mobilized to offer a more representative and inclusive way in order to lead Haiti towards the direction of a sustainable democracy. While elections are important, there are more pressing issues to be addressed before elections can be meaningful and worthwhile, especially since past elections, as in 2016 when only 21% of the voting age population came out to vote. The lawmakers include Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) Val Demings (FL-10), Dwight Evans (PA-3), Andy Levin (MI-9), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Mondaire Jones (NY-17) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7).

In an article published in the Miami Herald, Andy Levin (D-Michigan) was quoted as saying they are aware that the political situation in Haiti is at an impasse, in part because Prime Minister Ariel Henry refuses to cooperate with the democratic transitional process that civil society has been working on. Mr. Levin agrees with the omnibus bill that President Biden signed last week with language that encourages political dialogue among various political actors in order to restore legitimacy and democratic institutions in the country.

Elsewhere, the leader of the December 4 Collective, Jean-Robert Argant stated that he is concerned about the persistence of the political crisis in Haiti, and given the intransigence of political actors, advocates putting self-interest aside in the interest of the country. Mr Argant invites political actors to put aside what he describes as false pride, and place Haiti first in each of their political actions. Mr. Argant fears a social breakdown in the country, if the various actors continue to pull the tightrope, instead, he calls on all the signatories of all agreements to take the path of dialogue in order to promote a happy ending to the political impasse.

In other news, more than two weeks after being assigned the responsibility of overseeing the inquiry into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the newly named judge Merlan Belabre has yet to receive the documents and instructions in the investigation, this, despite the Minister of Justice, Berto Dorcé’s promise in an interview last week that they will make all documents available to the judge, while the judge is expected to render his findings and report within 3 months.  Aside from the fact that the documents have not been turned over to him, the judge is concerned that the circumstances around his appointment makes him wonder if there is any interest in pursuing the investigation at all. He argued that the time left for him to retire does not permit him to do any meaningful investigation, and since his appointment, no documents have been handed over to him and no resources made available to undertake the investigation. He recently met with the members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, CSPJ to let them take steps with the Ministry of Finance in order to move forward with the investigation.

While the investigation is in a standstill, reminiscent of the state of the nation itself, the Director of the office of monetization and development aid programs, MBPAD, Fils Aimé Ignace Saint Fleur inaugurated a new public park named after the assassinated President Jovenel Moise. The La Place Publique Jovenel was opened on Sunday March 20, 2022, in Laguaminthe, in the Monbin Crochu Commune. Speaking at the event, the Director praised the current Prime Minister for his support for the project, all the while pointing out that despite the assassination, the president’s policies and plans for the nation are still being carried out. Addressing the crowd of hundreds of residents in the area, the Director called on Prime Minister Ariel Henry to take heed to the multiple problems facing the community and call on the ministry of education to help build schools in the area, and a health care center echoing the desire expressed bys one of the students who spoke at the event.

Finally, police inspector Max Guillord was arrested at JFK Airport in New York and extradited back to Haiti on Sunday, March 20, 2022. An investigator at the Petit-Goave police station, Max Guillot was accused of attempted murder with a warrant out for his arrest by the Petit-Goave civil court. There was equally an Interpol warrant out there for him which helped to quickly arrest and send him back to Haiti.

Dela Harlley

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