Haiti is home to mesmerizing beaches, tropical flowers, great food, and beauty reflective of the sun’s love affair with the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it is also home to hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential storms, flooding and the many issues that follow disasters, particularly in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Haiti is perpetually surrounded by poverty and uprisings that result in violence and damage to its already fragile foundation, making change seem impossible for those of us thinking about it from our office chairs or the comfort of our living room couch.
I would agree opportunities appear dim and easy to deem impossible, but if I lived in Haiti, change would be my only possible means of survival. That truth is the mission of the Haiti Impact Group (HIG), a local Haitian research group looking to change local narratives. Using the Fulcrum Community platform, local young professionals are developing mechanisms for conducting systematic research to re-inform the policies that determine the needs of Haiti and the means for addressing these needs. Given the many obstacles already mentioned, this is not an easy journey, but one that has to happen for change to occur. We chatted with Isabelle Clerie (pictured), who leads the initiative. Here is her perspective on how to win the war for change in Haiti:
Haiti simultaneously has a problem of information overload and not enough information to support the change they seek. There are countless studies and data that exist in a very scattered manner across public, private and international institutions that make the information sometimes confusing and very difficult to access.
Secondly, our partners have mostly worked with individual survey forms for monitoring and evaluation studies conducted in the past. Those individual survey forms are very time consuming because surveyors are required to hand-write responses and then those forms are transcribed, which opens up a myriad of issues, including inability to read the handwriting, which can cause misrepresentation of information and inaccurate conclusions about a site.
HIG envisions a publicly accessible database of both new and existing information. We are working with a group of partners across the country, particularly in rural communities, to develop systematic data-collection processes that will inform better decision making at local and national levels. Locally we plan to teach communities how to use data to justify the needs of their communities. For instance, if a community that produces more coffee than it can sell it is able to self-report their assets (i.e. number of trees or amount of land) with geo-references, the information can be used to inform infrastructure and budget objectives, thus giving them a better road that in turn gives them access to more markets. Nationally, we hope to provide clearer data on various indicators that will allow us as Haitians to claim our own narrative.
HIG is working closely with CASELI, a local sister organization to Root Capital, to roll out the data collection mechanisms and train surveyors. The intention is to fully transition over 60% of their sites to Fulcrum by the end of the year and train youth groups across the country to use the app so that in the event of a disaster they can be also be deployed to collect real-time data for response teams.
We successfully partnered with Spatial Networks (Fulcrum Community), CASELI (Root Capital) which builds our foundation and the ability to train, collect and document our data in real time and geo-spatially allowing us to visually tell our story in an organized and coordinated manner.
What Change Looks Like
HIG’s mission is to build local narratives that are reflective of the people that live, work and play in Haiti. To achieve that, we need accurate and open information that can be used by anyone who needs to reference it. Our aim is to re-inform policies, and where possible, procedures (i.e. procurement) for development in Haiti to mitigate the often negative impacts of development interventions and strategies that are designed with biased, and at times misguided, frameworks.
Photo credits: Isabelle Clerie, iStockphoto
Fulcrum is a data collection platform that enables organizations to reduce costs, access critical data in real time, and improve decision making at every level. With Fulcrum, you can create custom apps using our simple drag-and-drop builder to turn your paper documents into digital forms that your field teams can quickly complete on mobile devices. Our software is available at no cost to humanitarian and volunteer disaster-relief organizations via Fulcrum Community.