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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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Five Years in Haiti: a Look Back

By - Apr 30 2015

In rural Haiti, Danette François once walked thirty minutes to fetch water from a well in her home village of Gomier. The walk was long and the water, though free, was brackish and untreated, often making her children ill. But today? Her reality is different, thanks to multi-partner efforts to bring low-cost, chlorinated water to even the most remote corners of rural Haiti. “The price? It’s really cheap, like a gift,” said François. “I’m happy. My kids are not getting sick.”

Danette’s experience is just one example of how partnerships have effectively improved lives in Haiti. Working alongside the Government of Spain, the Inter-American Development Bank was better equipped to uplift communities like Gomier, and families like the François were better off as a result. With partner efforts evermore focused on Haiti in the wake of its devastating 2010 earthquake, a look at the past five years in the country tell a story of a country risen from debris, of reconstruction, of survival, and of partnership.

Thus today, five years after this disaster shook Haiti to its core, we would like to share words from Food For The Poor, a first responder to the earthquake and an organization committed to Haiti’s development since 1986. With a post-earthquake track record of 4,799 homes built alongside daily feeding programs, water well installations and purification, orphanage support, and more, this IDB partner is a solid authority on working in the country, Haiti’s improvement since the earthquake, and the essential role partnerships play in development efforts. Hear from Alvaro J. Pereira, Executive Vice President of Food For The Poor, on these topics and more.

Q. You’ve worked across the Latin American and Caribbean region, but we most closely engaged with you in Haiti. What about your experience in Haiti has been unique?

A. Food For The Poor serves in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Haiti is somewhat of a unique situation for us because of its proximity, and the country’s immense poverty, which has been exacerbated by natural disasters such as hurricanes and the 2010 earthquake. For those reasons, Haiti has required more attention and more Food For The Poor resources. Donors of our charity that include individuals, foundations, corporations and partners like the IDB stepped up in amazing ways to help rebuild Haiti. We believe their generosity, paired with the resilience and hope of the Haitian people, has brought great localized change to Haiti.


Q. We know that Food for the Poor has been in Haiti since 1986. How have matters improved since you began your work there? What challenges remain for partnerships working to support development there?

A. Food For The Poor began work in Haiti by providing food aid, and essential goods for individuals, schools and hospitals. In 1995, the charity started a homebuilding program that has resulted in 22,000 homes for the Haitian poor. The need for safe housing escalated after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010. Since then, Food For The Poor has:

  • Increased the assets and improved the quality of life of 30,000 people by building 5,015 permanent two-room concrete block homes with water and sanitation components.
  • Reduced the possible incidents of cholera and other water borne diseases for 1,280,000 individuals by installing 90 water filtration units, that purify 900,000 gallons of clean water a day, and by drilling 372 water wells.
  • Revived the education of 12,173 students by constructing or restoring 35 schools in the Port-au-Prince area.
  • Improved the service capacity of over 2,500 local grassroots organizations by distributing 5,098 ocean freight containers, which include rice, sardines, beans, rice/soy meals, medicine, medical supplies, school and dorm furniture, tile, shoes, hygiene items, household items, cleaning supplies, and construction supplies.

Many organizations want to work in Haiti, but they find it complex and daunting. Because of Food For The Poor’s tenure of 28 years in Haiti and the efficiencies it has gained, the organization is able to exponentially multiply the final impact of our donors and partners.


Q. Food for the Poor has an extensive partnership network that includes corporates, foundations, and other entities. How have you seen partnerships make a difference? What additional value do they bring to your efforts?

A. Objective focused and well-crafted collaboration is crucial for high impact development, since it exponentially multiplies the impact of every dollar and action invested on development.  For instance, because of the coupling of our local capacity and long term collaboration with the IDB and local housing organizations, we tripled the number of beneficiaries of our homebuilding program in Nicaragua and Honduras.  More families will have a safe place to live, which is closely aligned with educational attainment, the ability to obtain and maintain a job and provide a sustainable living, and public safety.  Likewise, the life for nearly 72,000 children in some of the most rural regions of Nicaragua has been greatly improved, thanks to a McGovern-Dole Food for Education grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the local expertise of Food for the Poor and our local partners. During a three-year period, more than 4,500 metric tons of food were distributed to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education for school-age children who benefited from the feeding programs in 774 rural schools.

Q. Your organization has extensive experience working with volunteerism, which we see play an increasingly important role in development. What sort of unique impact do volunteers make in your efforts? Can you share an anecdote where volunteers have made a particularly valuable or memorable contribution?

A. We thank our countless volunteers and donors who, by their generous service, attract and inspire others to take action. Their contributions remind that each and every one of us is a part of a global village, where just one person can positively impact the lives of many others in very real and meaningful ways. One example is Food For The Poor donors Lin and Lenny Crispinelli. Since 2010, the Crispinellis have dedicated their efforts to the memory of their daughter, Stephanie, who was traveling with Food For The Poor when she died in the 2010 earthquake. The couple has continued Stephanie’s work through annual fundraising projects and a pledge to build a school each year in her honor. The Crispinellis travel to Jamaica annually and have built five schools, all called Steph’s Place. Food For The Poor treasures each of its champions, and knows that our work would not be possible without their support.


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