Creating coalitions for a resilient Haiti

We believe that we have entered a period of ecological and economic turbulence, with climate change leading to more extreme weather events, massive reductions in global fish stocks, and large fluctuations in the price of carbon based fuels. Haiti is extremely likely to be adversely impacted by such events leading to further tragedy if the conventional rebuilding pathway is followed. We believe that there are pathways to rebuilding that can instead lead to a thriving, resilient Haiti.

Our vision is to support a Haitian-led rebuilding of Haiti that results in resilient Haitian communities within a healthy democratic nation.

Our mission is to support the creation of connected, cross-disciplinary coalitions that support a holistic rebuilding process of sustainable, interconnected Haitian communities. The process will simultaneously address issues of economic, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, and sustainable building practices.

We are proposing to create coalitions that link international resources with Haitian communities to support the rebuilding efforts through a cross-disciplinary, whole systems approach that yield tangible, measurable outcomes. Because of Haiti’s decentralized social system, we are proposing that each coalition focus on a community that is undergoing the rebuilding process, ensuring that the community has access to resources and processes that lead to resiliency. We are proposing that the coalitions will:

  1. be comprised of cross-disciplinary members who each bring expertise/experience from an needed area, ie. economics, ecology, architecture, engineering, health care, education, community organizing, and anthropology;

  2. foster and support the development of Haitian leadership and empowerment, seen as central to the rebuilding process;

  3. include Haitian leaders and organizations, US and international NGOs, US and international organizations, professionals, and refugee organizations, among others;

  4. identify the goals and desired outcomes of the rebuilding process through dialog and consensus, and then systematically address the barriers to implementation, engaging different groups and professionals as needed;

  5. share best practices with each other and with the international community.

  6. support the rebuilding efforts, and consider existing Haitian and international organizations that have been engaged in development work as the frontline support and rebuild system. 

  7. Identify roles, responsibilities and boundaries of participating individuals and entities, ensuring that resources (human and physical) are effectively employed and that the goals are attained.

  8. consider the potential impacts of climate change, peak oil, and other such issues that will likely emerge in the future upon decisions being made in the rebuilding process.

  9. be committed to exploring and testing areas of innovation–not just technical, but also social, institutional, regulatory, etc.

What could we do together?   What should we do together?   What will we do together?   What can we learn together?



Among the communities we will be working with is Fondwa, a rural highland village located at the epicenter of the earthquake west of Port Au Prince. Unlike many communities in Haiti, Fondwa was engaged in multi-faceted economic and educational initiatives—mentioned in the recent quote below—which will now need to be restarted and rebuilt.

  1. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers for Haiti and Fondwa.

  2. As you know, almost everything in Fondwa has collapsed.
    Here is an update from Fr. Joseph:

  3. We have lost about 25 people in Fondwa including a member of the Sisters of St. Anthony of Fondwa: Sr. Odile Damus and a child of 2 years from the Fondwa Orphanage: Jude Dubic. They both died at the APF Guest Center which have been destroyed completely. Everything in Fondwa has gone. The infrastructure that we have built in 22 years: the Orphanage, the School, the APF Center, the Clinic, the Radio Station ( Radyo Zetwal ) the Sisters’ Convent, the buildings of the University of Fondwa ( 7 of them). Everything has gone. The epi-center of the earthquake was in Fondwa, between Leogane and Jacmel. The big building of Pastor Luc Guerrier has gone. The Roman Catholic Church in Fondwa has gone also. The Church of Philadelphie ( a Protestant Church) has gone with about 15 young people under the concrete blocs. The Spiritan have lost one Seminarian, Stephane Douge who died with 12 other Seminarians ( Oblates, Montfortans ) at CIFOR. CIFOR ( a theological school for religious in Port-au-Prince) is gone completely. The Cathedral of Port-au-Prince has gone also. The Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr. Joseph Serge Miot died and will be buried on Saturday January 24. A big part of St. Martial College has gone, specially the Elementary Section which was also used as the Spiritan Pre-Noviciate House. All of the buildings of St. Martial are damaged a lot. Our spiritan house in Senghor where I live with Fr. Patrick Eugene is seriously damaged. Our court-yard is used actually as a Refugee Center for about 200 victims of the earthquake. The other Spiritans are Ok. Fonkoze has lost 3 employees - one Branch ( Bizoton near Port-au-Prince) has gone and 6 other branches very damaged. The Central Office and the Port-au-Prince branch are among them. But the rest of us are alive and are in strongly in solidarity with the rest of the Country. Together, we can rebuild Fondwa and Haiti.”

  4. —from The Road to Fondwa Blog, 19 January 2010



Having visited Haiti in 2008, I am struggling to reconcile the fact that this already impoverished country, with one destabilizing event after another for decades, is experiencing further devastation. 

I visited Haiti to better understand the challenges it faces as it attempts to stabilize itself economically and politically. I was also seeking models of development that are working. During my visit, I spent time in Port-au-Prince as well as in a rural community of 7,000 called Fondwa, which has developed a successful sustainable development model. 

While in Haiti, I discovered that building costs in Haiti are comparable to US costs, yet the average income is about $270.00 per year. As you can imagine, decent housing is prohibitively expensive and out of reach for most. Costs are high because primary building materials such as rebar and cement are imported to the island country from the US.  The Haitians with whom I spoke emphasized that Haiti desperately needs to develop sustainable building methods using local resources. With the destruction of most of its building stock during the earthquake, this need is even more urgent.

In response, Earthos is establishing its ‘netWORK HAITI’ initiative, which is dedicated to helping Haitians develop methods that generate income; reduce construction costs; minimize harm to local, fragile ecosystems; and ensure safety. We have begun to investigate building on our relationships with Fondwa organizations, and will also investigate partnerships with other Haitian and international organizations. Despite incredible challenges, the people of Fondwa have courageously empowered themselves through education, agricultural, micro-investment, and other initiatives. Notably, the Fondwa community established the first rural university in Haiti, which is solely dedicated to training future Haitian leaders in sustainable practices. They need our support now during the aftermath, as well in the future as they reconstruct.

— Sarah Howard



Earthos Initiatives

Future Boston Omnibus

Earthos Conversation



New Economy Business Development



The Road to Fondwa,
Documentary FIlm

The Road to Fondwa Blog

The University of Fondwa UNIF USA

Partners in Progress Haiti

Fonkoze Haiti (Fonkoze is Haiti’s alternative bank for the organized poor.)