Let us share here all the interesting articles we come accross, related to AIDS Competence.
Please post the title, the source, the hyperlink to the article and if possible a short introduction with the link to AIDS Competence.


Partageons ici les articles intéressants, en lien avec la compétence face au sida.
Veuillez poster le titre, la source, le lien vers l'article et si possible une courte introduction qui fait le lien avec la Compétence face au sida.


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Article shared to us by Simon Kam Hung Lau from Singapore
Another validation and encouragement to the great SALT cause

When Communities Identify Their Own Poor, Aid Has The Most Effect

Posting by Dr. Sima Barmania BMdsci MBBS MPH


Sport and Peace: is there another side to sport?


This week seems to have been a particularly insalubrious week for the reputation of sport.

The jail sentencing of three Pakistani cricketers, including Salman Butt (pictured), Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, for their roles in the spot-fixing scam has created an understandable uproar and according to Sally Walsh, senior lawyer in the Crown Prosecution services has “brought shame on the cricketing world” reports Robin Scott-Elliot.

The announcement of the cricketers’ conviction comes in the aftermath of another scandal in the world of football, that Chelsea captain John Terry allegedly racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, which is currently being investigated.

The news is deeply disheartening for those who value the integrity of sport; it is also disturbing for those who vehemently believe that sport can be used as a tool for creating peace, such as Kushil Gunasekera, whom I met a few years ago at a peace and reconciliation conference in Jordan.

Kushil is the founder of “The Foundation for goodness” in Sri Lanka an organisation that aims to promote peace and development through sport.

The foundation was established in 1999 in the rural village of Seenigama, southern Sri Lanka with a backdrop of a long civil war and then the added tragedy of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. The foundation improves the education and livelihood of those in rural regions but also facilitates sporting activities, including cricket to youths. Speaking with Gunasekera he says:


Continued in the Independent..


(Posted on behalf of Neil Samuels and Joan Hoxsey. This was written by Neil.)

 Appreciative Governance Issue of AI Practitioner 
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of joining an international consortium of practitioners to research and write about a topic of the future – Appreciative Governance. With thought leaders in alternative governance models we have been exploring the creation of new and more life-giving governance models - models that sit at the intersection of shared contribution and the alignment of strengths. The goals include creating organizations where all thrive and sustainable value is delivered as 'the new normal.'

Because of the very special nature of this issue where the articles are interlinked and cross-referenced, it will only be sold as a complete issue. A list of articles is given below. To get your copy, please go to

 Cross posted at:

Message posted by Denis Maruha

Замечательный фильм, замечательно сделано!!!!

Всем кто учавствовал в создании филиьма спасибо!!!

How local wisdom outperforms anything to preserve our precious planet. Interesting article on "Saving the Forests with Indigenous Knowledge"

Posted by Gusto Aihan on January 5, 2012. Thanks Gusto!

Dear All

The Phenomenology study case that I posted is Ms Rima Jauharoh thesis.

On her post graduated study of Malang University, Indonesia.

I assisted her in data collecting and organized my friends to be the informants, and I also one of the Informant on that study.

Under her permitting and agreement, I share that study to help others.

Warm Regards


Gusto Aihan

Phenomonology Study of Empowerment Program for People living with HIV/AIDS  


Problem prevention of HIV/AIDS is a shared responsibility. If not dealt with this problem can seriously disrupt and even threaten the living of the Indonesian nation. Empowerment of people living with HIV/AIDS is believed to be one of the keys to prevention and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Empowerment programs are appropriate in this case is needed. Inset Mataram which is the initiator for empowerment group in question. Empowerment for peoples with HIV/AIDS in this institution is interesting to study.  

This study aims to understand the meaning of empowerment programs by people living with HIV/AIDS held in peer support groups (KDS) in Inset Mataram. For that conducted the study with the tradition of phenomenology. The data were collected by in-depth interviews, observation, and study documentation. Data analysis was performed with (1) collecting and recording all the important statements related to empowerment (2) formulation of the meaning of these statements, and (3) determination of the common themes related to empowerment. Which the research was held on May – November 2010 in Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat Province, Indonesia      

From the findings have already discussed, it can be concluded as follows. First, empowerment programs are implemented in peer support groups in Inset Mataram is viewed by people living with HIV/AIDS has addressed the needs that they experienced positive changes and in turn also helped improve the quality of their lives. Second, empowerment program for people living with HIV/AIDS in line with the basic principles of Andragogy in which empowerment is viewed by people living with HIV/AIDS as a participatory empowerment programs and put people living with HIV/AIDS as subjects not objects so that they can be involved in efforts to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS.  

Based on the research process and findings, it is suggested that: (1) the parties organizers and policy makers in non-formal and informal education are encouraged to design programs that meet the needs of empowerment so that empowerment can be run according to destination and beneficial to all parties, (2) empowerment program is deemed highly necessary to engage learners (participatory) and placing them as subjects not objects so that an empowered sense of belonging and become the main actors of development programs and ultimately can lead to positive changes, (3) the parties relating to the prevention and combating HIV/AIDS has contributed much that needs to continue to strengthen, enhance, and develop strategies and empowerment programs, especially with the basic principles of andragogy, by involving the social environment in supporting people living with HIV so that people living with HIV /AIDS can be involved in the prevention and combating HIV/AIDS.                                                     A

Tapati Dutta


9.1.12- Adolescent Friendship Clinics have been set up at the general hospital  and six CHCs in  Karnal,Haryana.These clinics would address issues of sexual & reproductive health and related socio-cultural dilemmas/taboos,which are yet rarely addressed at the household level


Beverly Bell and Other Worlds

Business as government: Capitalizing on disaster in post-earthquake Haiti


February 29, 2012 by Deepa Panchang and Beverly Bell

“I am optimistic that in 18 months, yes, we will be autonomous in our decisions. But right now I have to assume... that we are not.”[i] With these words, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive watched a swath of his government’s decision-making power shift into foreign hands in early 2010. It's one thing to privatize government services.  Since the earthquake, US firms have actually been involved in privatizing governance – in fact, the governance of another country. Corporations with little to no knowledge of Haiti were brought in as volunteers to plan, kick off, and even staff the team with the single greatest operational influence over shaping the reconstruction model for the year after the quake, the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC). The IHRC was created by the Haitian parliament in April 2010 to direct post-earthquake reconstruction. Its mandate was to oversee rebuilding efforts through the $11 billion in pledges of international aid, including approving policies, projects, and budgeting. The World Bank was to manage the money. In creating and investing this body with its broad power, Parliament conducted a constitutional coup on April 15. Whereas the constitution mandates shared governance by an executive, a parliament, and a judiciary, the IHRC shifted it to the executive and the international community. The Parliament voted to give the IHRC the power to do, effectively, whatever it wanted. The only oversight measure left the Haitian government was veto power by the president.[ii] Given the corporate philosophies of the firms that designed it, the resultant features of the IHRC were hardly surprising. The IHRC’s 26 board members were elected by no one and were accountable to no one. Half were foreign, including representatives of other governments, multilateral financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations. An international development consultant contracted by the IHRC, speaking with the Haiti Support Group, said, “Look, you have to realize the IHRC was not intended to work as a structure or entity for Haiti or Haitians. It was simply designed as a vehicle for donors to funnel multinationals’ and NGOs’ project contracts.”[iii] McKinsey and Company, a US management consulting firm, was one of the firms that came in to help "design" and "launch" the IHRC.[iv] A background interview with an official very close to the process showed the Haitian government at the beck and call of McKinsey as it structured the commission and determined membership and decision-making processes. (All these aspects later received vehement criticism from Haitian civil society.) At the very first meeting, according to official minutes, it was McKinsey’s lead consultants who “made a presentation to the Board regarding the mission, mandate, structure, and operations of the IHRC.”[v] The consultants sat in on subsequent meetings as well.[vi] McKinsey & Co. performed its services pro bono. Whether paid or not, the post was a lucrative one; it well-positioned the firm both to influence future contracts and to shape a climate favorable to business. A 2010 World Economic Forum document explicitly stated that “McKinsey helps coordinate with partners to channel interest from the private sector and connect would-be donors and investors to opportunities in Haiti.”[vii] McKinsey was a natural choice for the job because of its former managing director’s long-time personal and political ties to Bill Clinton, who serves as UN Special Envoy to Haiti and was co-chair of the IHRC board. The firm was also a prime candidate because it advances the paradigm of ‘government as business,’ serving many governments around the world.[viii] As one example, McKinsey played a key role in developing the framework for the reconstruction commissions in Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean tsunami which, as with the IHRC, involved infusing foreign private sector individuals into policy-making. This was another case in which the local population was excluded from having a say in its own future following another disaster; civil society groups denounced the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR in Bahasa) for being extremely centralized and discounting civil society voices.[ix] McKinsey came under fire again after Hurricane Katrina and the flood of New Orleans for work it had done prior to the storm. McKinsey helped major insurance companies develop tactics that stalled court proceedings and delayed payments that, in practice, allowed them to avoid paying out claims to their clients who suffered in natural disasters or accidents. Lawsuits against insurance companies asserted that McKinsey’s pre-Katrina advice, particularly to Allstate, effectively helped insurers cheat their customers.[x] Another US firm, Korn/Ferry International, came on board to head-hunt the executive director of the IHRC. This was to replace the initial staffing that had been provided by the Clinton Foundation, International Development Bank, and the governments of the US and Canada.[xi] Korn/Ferry circulated a job announcement, in English, through politically connected circles in the US and Haiti, as though it were hiring for any profit-oriented business instead of for a team that was making major decisions in the name of a nation and its well-being. The announcement noted that, “Leadership experience in highly efficient and structured organizations, such as the military, is an advantage.”           Korn/Ferry provides recruitment services for both corporate and government positions, and keeps its finger on the pulse of the increasing overlap of the two. It even published a report encouraging companies to hire leadership with government and policy backgrounds and vice versa, in what it called a "new marriage between business and government.”[xii] Vesting foreign enterprises with political power is fundamentally anti-democratic. If US firms’ performance in post-earthquake governance is any example, it is a frightening indicator of what might emerge with even <em>greater</em> participation in decision-making, as mandated by the redevelopment blueprint published in March 2010 by the Haitian government and international community. As ineffectual as the Haitian government may be, its functions can’t be outsourced. Haiti needs a government with responsibility to the citizenry who elected it and the ability to protect their rights. The pursuits of foreign firms – making governance decisions about rebuilding, paving the way for other firms’ Haitian debuts, racking up humanitarian clout – have been at the expense of Haitians still struggling for basic needs and democratic power. The public good requires a public sector which can guarantee health, education, adequate food, water, housing, employment, agriculture, and civil liberties. It requires more than unaccountable foreign agencies and private business that can and do pull out when they like. Photo caption: Sign from a Port-au-Prince protest in October 2011, declaring “IHRC = Occupation. Long live a sovereign Haiti.” Photo: Ansel Herz.

Sex worker-led structural interventions in India: A case study on addressing violence in HIV prevention through the Ashodaya Samithi collective in Mysore

Sushena Reza-Paul1, Rob Lorway1, Nadia O'Brien2, Lisa Lazarus1, Jinendra Jain3, M Bhagya3, P Fathima Mary3, KT Venukumar3, KN Raviprakash3, James Baer4, Richard Steen5

1 University of Manitoba, Department of Community Health Sciences, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 2 McGill University Health Centre, Montreal Chest Institute, Canada 3 Ashodaya Samiti, Mysore, India 4 Independent Consultant, London, England 5 World Health Organization, West Bank & Gaza, Jerusalem, Israel

Correspondence Address:

Sushena Reza-Paul Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

The Indian Journal of Medical Research (Indian J Med Res) 2012 | January | Volume 135 | Issue 1

Background & objectives: Structural interventions have the capacity to improve the outcomes of HIV/AIDS interventions by changing the social, economic, political or environmental factors that determine risk and vulnerability. Marginalized groups face disproportionate barriers to health, and sex workers are among those at highest risk of HIV in India. Evidence in India and globally has shown that sex workers face violence in many forms ranging from verbal, psychological and emotional abuse to economic extortion, physical and sexual violence and this is directly linked to lower levels of condom use and higher levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the most critical determinants of HIV risk. We present here a case study of an intervention that mobilized sex workers to lead an HIV prevention response that addresses violence in their daily lives.

Methods: This study draws on ethnographic research and project monitoring data from a community-led structural intervention in Mysore, India, implemented by Ashodaya Samithi.

Qualitative and quantitative data were used to characterize baseline conditions, community responses and subsequent outcomes related to violence.

Results: In 2004, the incidence of reported violence by sex workers was extremely high (> 8 incidents per sex worker, per year) but decreased by 84 per cent over 5 years. Violence by police and anti-social elements, initially most common, decreased substantially after a safe space was established for sex workers to meet and crisis management and advocacy were initiated with different stakeholders.

Violence by clients, decreased after working with lodge owners to improve safety. However, initial increases in intimate partner violence were reported, and may be explained by two factors:

(i)increased willingness to report such incidents; and (ii) increased violence as a reaction to sex workers' growing empowerment.

Trafficking was addressed through the establishment of a self-regulatory board (SRB). The community's progressive response to violence was enabled by advancing community mobilization, ensuring community ownership of the intervention, and shifting structural vulnerabilities, whereby sex workers increasingly engaged key actors in support of a more enabling environment.

Interpretation & conclusions:

Ashodaya's community-led response to violence at multiple levels proved highly synergistic and effective in reducing structural violence.;year=2012;vol...

BIRTHING JUSTICE: Rewriting the Rules of the Global Economy -- Creating Economics That Improve People’s Lives

By Beverly Bell and Tory Field

April 16, 2012

Original article link:

Welcome to Birthing Justice: Women Creating Economic and Social Alternatives. The series features twelve alternative social and economic models which expand the possibilities for justice, equity, and strong community. They are based in the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some are national-level, some global-level. Some are propelled by people’s movements, some forced or adopted into government policy. In first-hand narratives, women describe their role in having created the models and show us their unique perspectives and challenges in the movements.


Below is the third narrative of Birthing Justice.


Rewriting the Rules of the Global Economy -- Creating Economics That Improve People’s Lives

“Rather than having these people inside the Beltway be the experts on the issue… we ask: How can we empower the people who are actually affected by the issues to be the spokespeople?” – Deborah James


Ask just about anyone about the “99%” these days and, regardless of how they feel about the Occupy movement, they’ll probably acknowledge the increasing concentration of wealth and power that the past few decades have brought. Occupy has successfully propelled issues of inequality and corporate control to mainstream consciousness, here in the belly of the beast, in the nation that has been pivotal to defining the world economic system.


 The current popular US dissent over the extreme concentration of wealth and the marginalization of the voices of the majority has long precursors in US social movements. The farmers’ movements of the 1870s, the populist movement of the 1890s, the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) and other militant labor unions from the dawn of the 20th Century through the 1950s, the civil rights and Black, Chicano, and Native nationalist movements from the 1960s on, and many other social movements… all have been rooted in calls for a more equitable division of power and economic resources. Parallel struggles, in many different forms, have occurred throughout the world.


The global justice movement, also known as the anti-globalization movement, exploded around the global South in the 1980s, when new draconian reforms demanded by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), as conditions for loans, destroyed national economies and the lives of those within them. The World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999 and the World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington in 2000, when hundreds of thousands of residents of the US and Europe turned out into the streets to protest the trade and financial regimes, marked something new: active alliance from the global North. Since then, organized populations everywhere have worked in their own countries and transnationally to subvert the rules of the global economy, where the wealthiest citizens, corporations, and counties make the decisions for all of us. The people’s movements have reminded us that economic globalization, which we are told is the only possible economic order, only commenced at the end of World War II, and that we do not have to accept it as it currently exists.


Those who are flooding streets today in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and the millions who have preceded them around the world, all posit an alternative vision for economies: that they be just, that they provide for all without exploitation, that they place the well-being of human beings and the environment over profit, and that everyone gets to be part of shaping them. They believe that economic relationships should be driven by our desire to nurture each other and our communities, not by the competition and greed often underlying the corporate market. And they have won dramatic victories.


Deborah James has been a leader in the global movement for economic justice for decades. Today she serves as Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, where she campaigns against the expansion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and for improved US policy in Latin America. Below she speaks about how international financial institutions hinder countries’ efforts at poverty alleviation, instead prioritizing corporate interests. She also describes citizens’ efforts to oppose the power of these institutions, and tells of the countries that have made strides toward freeing themselves from the economic chains, providing inspiration to us all.


Deborah James | Washington, DC, USA


To start understanding what’s wrong with the international financial institutions [IFIs], we need to look at why we actually need economies to function.[1] The most important economic issues to most people are whether they are able to get decent jobs and whether they are able to lift themselves out of poverty.


In writing the rules for economies, the International Monetary Fund [IMF] and WTO [World Trade Organization] are major proponents of neoliberal ideology. That ideology is based on the theory that slashing government spending, reducing tariffs, privatizing public resources, and promoting corporate investment will result in higher economic growth, and that this will eventually result in a reduction in poverty because a rising tide lifts all boats. This contrasts with more progressive viewpoints that focus on reducing inequality by investing in health care, education, and opportunities for the poor.


The mandate of the IMF is to help countries overcome short-term financial difficulties by giving out loans.[2] However, these loans are only provided if countries restructure their economies. That is, they have to adhere to these neoliberal economic policies, like cutting government spending in areas such as education and health care, to regain what is called “fiscal discipline,” which means not spending more money than you are taking in. The problem is that the result in many countries has actually been a reduction of growth and development – stagnant wages, more unemployment. Thus, while the creditors are bailed out by the IMF, often the borrowing country is unable to repay the loan, resulting in an endless cycle of impoverishment and indebtedness.


Similarly, the World Trade Organization develops and enforces rules for trade and investment. It favors rights for corporations to trade over the rights of governments and peoples to develop healthy and sustainable economies.[3] We know that trade can be an engine for growth if used strategically by a country; but trade can also be a vehicle to boost corporate profits that actually limits the ability of local economies to develop, and pits workers against each other in a race to the bottom.


So the evidence shows that the extreme neoliberal model has actually failed to produce economic growth and has exacerbated inequality. It’s causing the biggest distribution of wealth – away from the majority of people and into the pockets of big corporations – in the history of the modern world. However, no matter what evidence neoliberals are shown to the contrary, they still promote this model because it’s in the interest of the corporations that are driving their agendas.


Fortunately, there’s a lot of questioning of neoliberalism now. Latin America and Asia are two regions that have largely paid off their loans and liberated themselves from the IMF in the last decade or two, and that has had a huge impact. Asia experienced a severe economic crisis in 1997; countries like Malaysia that broke with the IMF and took care of their domestic economy before paying off foreign investors actually did better than the ones that followed the IMF’s economic advice. Since then, much of Asia has decided that they’re never going to be subject to this foreign economic intervention again, and they’ve built up tremendous economic reserves so they don’t ever have to go ask for a bailout. It’s been a very good thing. They’ve had fairly decent economic growth over the last 15 years or so, and lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty.


We’ve seen big victories within our hemisphere as well. One was the defeat of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas in the early 2000s. Another example was in 2001 when Argentina broke with the IMF and told them it wasn’t going to pay foreign investors before investing in its own domestic economy. In the last 10 years, Argentina has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and has lifted 10 million

people out of poverty because of that faster growth. Similarly, in spite of the fact that Venezuela has been quite hard hit by the global recession, they’ve lowered their poverty rate by more than half and extreme poverty by even more than that in the last decade. In fact, during the 80’s and 90’s, most of the region experienced economic stagnation under

IMF agreements. But now, most of Latin America has paid off its debts to the IMF, and is no longer under its constraints. The people have elected leftist governments that focus on building relationships among countries in the region, rather than being too dependent on the United States. Now growth is rebounding, unemployment has been reduced, and countries have made great strides in reducing poverty.


Unfortunately, many African countries are still subjected to IMF policies and are being left behind. And now, the IMF was put in charge of managing the bailouts of many European countries, and they are being subjected to austerity programs, which are wreaking havoc on developed and developing countries alike.


Globally we have a very important movement to get outstanding debt to the IMF cancelled, called the Jubilee movement. They’ve achieved important victories for many poor countries by freeing poor nations to be able to use their own resources for their real economic needs instead of paying the IMF. Unfortunately, we don’t actually have a movement focused on challenging the IMF’s fundamental power, and I think we need to create that. It’s not just about debt cancellation, but taking the IMF out of the business of running economies around the world.


And at a time when countries are still suffering from the global crises, and governments are imposing “austerity” instead of spurring development through investment, we need a global movement for fiscal stimulus – for the idea that government funds should be invested where the public will benefit the most, like health care and education and ensuring food security. Unemployment benefits create far more jobs than tax breaks, because those who receive these benefits generally have to spend their money immediately.


Economists know this; when politicians argue in favor of tax cuts to spur growth, they are just arguing in the interests of corporate profit, not reflected in any economic reality. Unfortunately, because many people in progressive movements don’t understand how important growth is to poverty reduction, we often spend more time fighting over specific cuts or programs rather than working together to demand government investments that would benefit the entire economy.


Another key global justice campaign is to stop the expansion of the WTO agreement through what’s called the “Doha Round” of negotiations, and to roll back existing WTO rules that limit governments’ abilities to manage crises. Fortunately there’s a movement focused on this, the Our World Is Not for Sale global network. It’s comprised of organizations from 50 different countries. After nearly a decade of struggle, it looks like we have a chance of stopping the expansion of the WTO again this year – permanently this time. The solution is not to have no global trade rules; we need to have rules disciplining corporate behavior. But we need a new institution run with the purpose of using trade to promote growth, jobs, and sustainable development, not just increasing trade.


To bring it home to the United States, we have a national coalition called the Citizens’ Trade Campaign that’s composed of grassroots movements from across the country that would be affected by trade agreements in a negative way, including farmers’ unions, environmental groups, labor unions, student movements, progressive people of faith, consumer advocacy groups.


As movements for justice, we need to work to bridge the efforts among those challenging the overarching institutions that design the architecture of the global economy, and those working for economic empowerment on the local scale who are grounded in the lived experiences of those affected by the institutions. How can we empower the people who are actually affected by the issues to be the advocates and spokespeople? How can we ensure that those working on economic justice on the local level have access to information so that they can advocate for their interests in the bigger scheme of things? We need to ensure that we don’t just convey the right information, which is key, but also that we connect the bigger picture economic struggles to the problems people experience in their communities, in a way that people can understand and really feel motivated to come together and work to improve people’s lives.


To learn more about Deborah James’ organization, Center for Economic and Policy Research, please see Photos courtesy of Deborah James.

1. International Financial Institutions (IFIs) refers to institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, World Bank, and regional development banks.

2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established, along with its sister organization the World Bank, as part of the Bretton Woods institutions intended to rebuild the global economy in the aftermath of WWII.

3. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international body, established in 1995, that develops and enforces rules for trade and investment. The WTO includes agreements not only on tariffs and subsidies on goods and agriculture, but also services, government procurement, trade facilitation, intellectual property, investment, domestic regulation, and many more non-trade issues.


Inspired? Here are a few suggestions for getting involved!



Discover more ideas and download the entire Birthing Justice series here.


Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance and is working on the forthcoming book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles here.

 Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part.  Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.


Coming Together for Environmental Restoration in Haiti
Interview by Beverly Bell and Alexis Erkert
April 24, 2012

In honor of Earth Day, we run an interview with Yves-André Wainright, who discusses ways that poor governance and the role of foreign donors have contributed to the country’s environmental catastrophe. He also lays out a blueprint for what could turn the situation around, effectively mobilizing both government and the population to begin restoring the environment.

Yves-André Wainright served twice as Haiti’s Minister of Environment. Trained as an agronomist, Yves-André’s work has focused on environmental management, especially management of natural resources and waste.

My approach towards management of the environment is to have Haitians who face [the same environmental] challenges come together. We might not all share the same economic interests, but if we work together, we can reach a compromise where one’s interest won’t trump another’s.

Current poverty levels can’t be used as an excuse for environmental mismanagement, like deforestation of watersheds or the poor construction of rural roads. More than an issue of technology or of funding, the challenge with environmental management in Haiti is a matter of governance. It’s a multi-pronged issue. First, there is the fight against impunity. As long as anyone thinks he or she can do as he pleases without any consequences, it will be difficult to manage the environment. A second issue is that [central] government ministries act as competitors rather than allies. As a result, information is not shared and institutions are not organized to provide assistance and directives to local government or NGOs [non-governmental organizations, and international agencies]. Since management of the physical environment is a crosscutting and long-term challenge, it’s very difficult to maintain continuity from one government to the next, which hinders the implementation of required programs.

For example, in the 1990s, I led the preparation of an innovative program to fund peasant-managed micro-enterprises for families who depended on cutting down trees in national parks. All state institutions including local governments, the judicial system, the national police, and key ministries would be able to give input and would receive training in the sustainable management of biodiversity. The project facilitated coordination among the various stakeholders, public and private, through various management committees. The first disbursements were made two weeks before I left the government. [When I returned,] the project was considered overall as having failed. The governance structure of the project was considered too complex, and [since] normally in the government, people from different ministers don’t talk to each other, the project’s implementation lacked leadership. There were even 70 or so agronomists trained, and about 10 who went abroad for professional specialization, but none of them were never put to use. And, the peasants never benefited from the comprehensive technical and financial assistance I had dreamed of.

The third issue I wish to highlight is the role of donors from the international community. They put too much emphasis on ‘transparency’ toward their foreign constituency and lack sensitivity to the process of building democracy within communities receiving aid. I admire the abundance of documentation donors have accumulated on Haiti but feel that not enough effort is put into making this information available to local stakeholders. This has facilitated the creation of an oligarchy of consultants and specialists who monopolize the field of international assistance. Donors don’t seem to trust the initiatives from people outside of this circle.

For instance, during my first term as Minister of Environment, USAID and the World Bank were the main donors providing assistance to the process of clarifying the role of the newly created ministry and prioritizing actions for environmental management and rehabilitation. I started to organize multi-stakeholder platforms towards preparation of a National Action Plan for the Environment, but the donors decided to replicate the preparation process from various African countries – a plan written by specialists and validated afterwards by the civil society. They succeeded in having beautiful documents prepared, which are currently embellishing shelves of libraries in foreign universities.

What is needed is to help Haitians develop partnerships around common environmental concerns.

[In 2010], the office of the Prime Minister organized a forum on lessons learned from watershed management over the past 30 to 40 years.  That forum had a large participation of funders, with data-rich presentations by the experts. These presentations confirmed that, during the period considered, more and more short-term NGO-led projects promoted market-linked incentives for environmental protection instead of building of decentralized state capacity so that the government ensures respect of environmental norms. [Participants of the forum] acted as though the state were outsiders of the process and that the government should be replaced by the market as the driving force for livelihood improvement. But the problem is that the market promotes individualism and a spirit of competition. It can’t instill the feeling of community and citizenship needed to stimulate Haitians to take part in the rehabilitation of the environment.

We must have regulations that guarantee the socioeconomic and environmental rights of all citizens: the right to be informed of initiatives affecting their environment; the right to have input into [environmental] mitigation measures to be implemented; the right to an unbiased judicial system to [ensure] the application of norms. We must also have an appropriate democratic governance structure able to implement this at the regional and local level. Otherwise, even if the billions of dollars pledged would be effectively disbursed, we won’t resolve anything.

One of the principles in the Rio Declaration on Sustainable Development [endorsed by 165 countries in June 1992] states, “Peace, economic development and protection of the environment are interdependent and indivisible.” There is no peace without social justice. I’m not preaching anything new.

Fortunately, there is progress being made. In October 2005, the government adopted an important environmental decree. It integrates most of the international principles for managing the environment promoted by the Rio Declaration. It identifies nine priorities [to be implemented by government authorities and] the private sector. By the private sector, I don’t just mean the bourgeoisie in town, but also peasants and small merchants.

These nine domains are:

  • Education related to ecology and environmental health;
  • Reinforcement of the state’s capacity to [manage] the environment, from locally elected officials to the central government;
  • Integrated management of watersheds and coastal areas;
  • Promotion of alternative energy sources to charcoal and, as possible, imported fossil fuels;
  • Regulation and policies related to where and how people can or can’t build houses and decentralization of activities from Port-au-Prince;
  • Sanitation, and the management of garbage and pollution;
  • Application of the national plan for management of risks and disasters - mainly focusing on floods and water-related epidemics for the short term, with later focus on other sources of pollution that impact human health and the ecosystem;
  • Preservation and sustainable management of biodiversity, relating to protection of the habitats of endemic and other endangered species;
  • Sustainable management of mineral resources like construction materials, quarries, and mines.

There are ways to improve governance of the environment around these themes, provided they are integrated into a comprehensive and progressive land-use zoning process. For example, alleviation of the pressure of agriculture production on mountainous lands should be a common objective for all groups working on any of these nine issues. With more than 500,000 families depending on subsistence agriculture on eroded lands, there’s no potential for improving living conditions. Policies must be proactive in providing alternative means to make a living, and we have to invest more in building governance capacity at the municipal level.

We have to start working collaboratively. We can be successful in the nine priorities listed, but only if we admit that whatever our capabilities and our excuses, we’re condemned to fail without cooperation. By we, I mean the government, the ministries, the parliament, the NGOs and their networks, grassroots organizations and social movements, enterprises and trade unions, donors and others.

Read the full, unedited interview with Yves-André Wainright here.

Interview translated by Larousse Charlot and David Schmidt.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance and is working on the forthcoming book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s New Divide. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Alexis Erkert is the Another Haiti is Possible Coordinator for Other Worlds. She has worked in advocacy and with Haitian social movements since 2008. You can access all of Other Worlds’ past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti here.

Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Alexis Erkert and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

BIRTHING JUSTICE: Our Hope is in Our Struggle – Reclaiming Land and Life in Honduras 

By Beverly Bell and Lauren Elliott

April 30, 2012


Welcome to Birthing Justice: Women Creating Economic and Social Alternatives. The series features twelve alternative social and economic models which expand the possibilities for justice, equity, and strong community. They are based in the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some are national-level, some global-level. Some are propelled by people’s movements, some forced or adopted into government policy. In first-hand narratives, women describe their role in having created the models and show us their unique perspectives and challenges in the movements.


Below is the fifth narrative of Birthing Justice.



Our Hope is in Our Struggle – Reclaiming Land and Life in Honduras


“Land, well, it’s our first mother. For us farmers, we don’t have life without land. That’s the reason we’re in this struggle.” - Consuelo Castillo


In Honduras, as in most places, the government and the wealthy treat land as a commodity. In pursuit of the profits it offers, they have taken enormous tracts of land from indigenous peoples and small farmers, often through legally suspect if not outright violent means. 


On April 17, several thousand Hondurans set out to take back some of this land. They occupied 30,000 acres of land that day, claiming a legal right to grow crops there. These occupations were part of the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle, organized by the several million-member, world-wide, small-farmer organization Via Campesina. From Mozambique to Palestine to Spain, farmers and activists took to the streets, hosted teach-ins, and established land occupations. Over 250 actions took place globally on that one day. 


While the April 17 action in Honduras made international headlines, it was just a snapshot of a much larger national movement for land reform that is rarely reported. Documented or not, it’s making waves that can’t be ignored. In 2009, the democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, who had been making concessions to the grassroots’ demand for agrarian reform, was ousted and replaced with a government whose favorite motto quickly became “Honduras is open for business.” But despite, or perhaps because of the coup d’état - as Consuelo Castillo suggests in the interview below - the resistance is growing.


Four days after these land occupations began, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) celebrated a long-fought victory: winning a community title to 741 acres of their ancestral land. COPINH and the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) are two groups demanding the right to communal control over ancestral lands, rivers, forests, and agriculture. Over the years, they and others have reclaimed ancestral lands, and stalled or stopped free trade agreements, hydro-electric dams, mining exploration, and logging. Their victories have come through the strength of their movements and their marches, national mobilizations, and direct actions such as road blockades.


For decades in the fertile Bajo Aguán region, the members of small-farmer cooperatives such as the Aguán Small Farmers’ Movement and the Unified Movement of Aguán Farmers have been peacefully occupying land they claim has been taken from them, mainly by bio-fuel agribusiness. Today, despite constant arrests, assassinations, and threats from the landowners and the government, they have established six settlements where they’re working towards their long-term vision of food sovereignty, liberatory education systems, collectively run media, cooperative businesses, and strong community.


In the fifth part of the Birthing Justice series, we’ll hear from Consuelo Castillo, an organizer with the land movement in Bajo Aguán and a resident of Lempira, one of the six land reform settlements.


Consuelo Castillo | Bajo Aguán, Honduras


My name is Consuelo Castillo and I have been fighting to defend the land for five years. Our goal is for everyone who is part of the land occupations to have access to land.  Land, well, it’s our first mother. For us farmers, we don’t have life without land. That’s the reason we’re in this struggle.


We want a better Honduras, a different Honduras where there is equality for everyone. A Honduras where everyone can enjoy the wealth generated by this country and the fruits of our land. We’re fighting for the changes that we truly need and, well, I believe that with everyone’s strength and work, we’re going to reach the goal.


The [national] resistance has a lot of capacity. Those participating in the resistance are the people most marginalized, those suffering most because of the coup. There have been families that have lost their jobs, family members, and many other things because of the coup, understand? People are ready to give their lives for their country, and so we are going to continue defending what is ours. All of the small-farmer organizations are in resistance here in the department of Colón.


We think about having a society that’s truly participatory, where there is equality and all our rights are respected. This is our fight and, well, we are trying to change the whole capitalist system. We are trying to reinvent this chain from below because the changes are not going to suddenly happen from above. Those from above don’t think there should be change. But for us, including the humblest and the hardest hit, this is why we are fighting.


There are various small-farmer organizations in the struggle to recover the land. This all started on December 9 [2009, after the coup d’état], when we went to different areas, like Lempira and the western regions, to retake the farmlands. We’ve occupied this land for two years, struggling and continuing the fight amid forced removals, militarization of the lands, and assassinations. We put enough pressure on the government that in 2010 they made an agreement to relocate us to these six settlements.


Even though we’ve signed agreements, there’s conflict. The negotations are through the government, and the government is like a messenger of Mr. Facussé [a major landowner]. Since he has lots of money, he buys the authorities and we, the poor people, receive nothing from the government. There have always been murders and kidnappings and threats of fines and all that.  So, these aren’t yet liberated territories. We’re fighting to liberate the land we’ve occupied. 


That's where we are right now. We must develop our education, health and housing so that we can live a dignified life as  farmers. The situation is very critical. We don't have hope that the government is going to address these issues. They don't care if the poor are hungry. Our hope is in our struggle, in the fact that each citizen is going to make an effort to change our country.


Some of the settlements have been able to develop projects for water, light, and other things that benefit us. With everyone’s efforts we managed to build [a cooperative food store]. When we buy food from other places we generate profits for other people, sometimes for the imperialists themselves. So, we’ve all invested in the food store and it belongs to everyone. For example, this week we won’t get paid because production is low. But we have food, so even if we don’t get a salary at the end of the week our kids won’t go hungry. In short, we have this resource for difficult times.


About 50 percent of what we eat is nutritious food, food we grew ourselves, like corn, beans, some vegetables. And our milk, it’s natural milk taken directly from the cow, something real. Right now there are many health epidemics in the occupied territories. Too many! Our families aren’t accustomed to living where they are so vulnerable, where so many chemicals have been dumped in the ground.[i] We are trying not to eat certain foods that both help our enemy and are very harmful to our health.


We're fighting for our kids. They're the foundation of this movement. They are what's important. We've started this movement for our children so they can have their basic needs met, live in dignity, and have access to education. For example, the political assassinations have left some children without mothers, without brothers. The kids are the ones that are impacted the most. 


No matter what happens, we’re going to keep on fighting for our sisters and brothers who gave up their lives, whose blood was spilled for this land God gave to us, the Honduran people, so that we could all enjoy the land’s natural resources and wealth. Our martyred sisters and brothers may be lying in the grave right now, but as far as we’re concerned, they’re still here with us, standing by our side in this fight. We are not going to give up the struggle; we’re going to keep at it to the very end, no matter what happens.


[i] Most of the settlements are on cultivated palm plantations, where large levels of chemicals and pesticides have been used. Birth defects and other health problems have been documented at an alarming level.


To learn more about the resistance in Honduras see, and To read more about land struggles globally, see the second article in the Birthing Justice series, “Without Firing an Arm, We Created a Revolution: Land Reform.”


Interview translated by Tim Burke, Monica Dyer, David Schmidt, and Gislaine Williams.


Inspired? Here are a few suggestions for getting involved!

  • If you’re Spanish-speaking, apply to be a human rights observer with:

o   The small-famer cooperatives in Bajo Aguán through the the Permanent International Human Rights Observatory in Bajo Aguán (email or; and

o   COPINH and OFRANEH through the  Human Rights Observatory of the Indigenous and Black Communities (email; call 504 32668598 or 504 32019179);

  • Provide much-needed financial support to the small-farmer cooperatives in Bajo Aguán, COPINH, and OFRANEH. Other Worlds can help get the money directly to them (;
  • Support the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST) through the Friends of the MST (; and
  • Join the US housing rights movement. Land reform takes on a new meaning in the US as banks foreclose on family homes and farms, and the US government shies away from providing public housing. Local groups and national coalitions are fighting back, calling for national a moratorium on foreclosures, occupying empty homes, and demanding tighter restrictions on banks and lending agencies. Visit the Occupy Our Homes website to learn more and get involved (


And check out the following resources and organizations:



Discover more ideas and download the entire Birthing Justice series here.

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds. She is author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part.  Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.




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