From the field

Haiti: From Storm Recovery to Sustainable Development

In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne swept through the historical port city of Gonaïves in Haiti, sending walls of water and mud down the surrounding slopes and changing the face of the city forever. A project managed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been helping local residents organize themselves to build erosion control networks to protect the city from future mudslides and heavy run-off. ILO TV reports.

Date issued: 09 December 2009 | Size/duration: 00:02:50 (9.8 MB)
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Gonaïves, the birthplace of Haitian independence, sits nestled in a beautiful Caribbean bay. But years of deforestation left it exposed to natural disaster.

In September 2004, Hurricane Jeanne made landfall here sending mud down the mountainsides, turning the city into a swamp. Over 3000 people died and thousands more were left homeless and hungry.

Hurricanes pose a constant threat here, so local residents set to work improving the watershed around the city. The project is managed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in cooperation with the Haitian government.

Workers build stone-reinforced horizontal ditches; assemble stone weirs and small dams in exchange for food and wages.

The use of local resource-based techniques and community contracting has been vital to the project’s success. Workers are recruited using local associations that select the foremen, and monitor and control wage payments.

Mr Timoré Moril, Pdt, Federation of Workers FODEC (in Creole)

Each association gets a certain number of workers who are renewed. This project has been a great help to our community

Nearly half the workers are women. A four-week rotation system gives more workers access to vital income in a country with high unemployment.

The first phase of the project provided work for 21,000 people on over 70 sites. In its second phase, thousands more are at work on sites like this one on the banks of the Quinte River.

Here, workers reshape and enlarge the channel to the sea so flood waters can recede more quickly. In the back hills behind the city, workers are raising and planting trees.

Renaud Gene, Agronomic on the ILO project in charge of the technical section (In French)

The work over here helps to retain the earth on the hillsides and prevents water from ravaging the plain below. It also helps create employment by turning a zone that was not in use into something viable and productive.

Through green jobs like these, Gonaïves is trying to tackle twin challenges in the environment and the economy.

Jean-Marie Vanden Wouver, Head of the ILO Gonaïves Project (in French)

Green jobs are more sustainable. We are going to create jobs to fight erosion and at the same time create much needed, employment. Using bulldozers would be quicker, but we wouldn’t be able to create so many jobs…

Following the path of green jobs, Gonaïves is headed to a more sustainable future, and hopefully safe from oncoming storms.