› What we do › Haiti
    PHOTO: Paul Jeffrey

    CWS responded to the devastating 2010 earthquake through a diverse set of programs, projects and advocacy initiatives. At the same time work on the two focus areas CWS has supported in Haiti for many years continued: food security and the protection of children.


    Three years after the earthquake, CWS developed a plan (2013 – 2016) which combines the learnings and new partnerships developed during the emergency response phase with our long standing programs.


    All programs are implemented by local partner organizations with CWS supporting them to

    build their own capacity to reach their goals. CWS has two members of staff in Haiti who provide accompaniment and oversee monitoring, reporting and communications.


    At the same time, CWS engages in national and international advocacy on issues such as child protection in Haiti and international policies toward Haiti and Haitians. While these efforts require commitment and patience, they have the potential to positively impact the lives of thousands if not millions of Haitians by contributing to long term sustainable development and social justice.


    For more detailed information about the different activities and programs we support in Haiti you can browse the 4 tabs above or take a look at this 3 year report published at the end of 2012 and this 2 year report that highlights the main achievements of our work 2013 - 2014.

    PHOTO: Aaron Tate

    CWS´s work in this area on two key initiatives: The abolishment of the Restavèk system and, a Small Grants program for innovative projects related to the protection of children.


    Restavèk program

    Restavèk refers to children who are forced to serve as unpaid household workers in a home other than their own. Rural families are often very large and parents struggle to care for all their children. Families in the city offer to take on one of these children and to provide them with food, clothes, education and health care. The reality however is that, upon arrival, the child becomes a domestic servant and is denied his or her basic rights. More often than not, they suffer verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse. It is estimated that 400,000 children in Haiti are forced to lives as restavèks.


    CWS supports a network of 18 organizations: Aba Sistèm Restavèk (ASR) or "Down with the Restavèk System." ASR is the only locally-led children's rights network, and represents a unique way for Haitians to develop a unified voice on issues of child protection. The work is carried out by members on three main levels:

    • Awareness raising: Actions are carried out in rural areas, among biological families who send their children to the cities to inform them of the reality of the lives of restavèks. In addition work is carried out with the host families in the city to improve the living situation of restavèks ensuring they have the right to go to school, play and be sick.
    • Education: this involves literacy and other professional training for current and former restavèk or children offering them a way out of their situation.
    • Advocacy: ASR is currently developing and promoting a draft national policy on child protection and draft legislation to improve the protection of all children in Haiti. Drafted in collaboration with government ministries and other children's organizations, once finalised these policy initiatives will be presented to government ministers, members of parliament and other political leaders.


    Every year ASR organises a "National Day for the Abolition of the Restavèk System" on 18 November, one day after 17 November, the date Haiti commemorates its independence and liberation from slavery, as a stark reminder that the country is not yet fully free of slavery.


    Small Grants Fund for Children´s Protection

    Started in 2013, this fund is open to local Haitian organizations working on innovative initiatives to advance the protection of children in Haiti. The funds can be used for any project or program benefiting children such as: improving the quality of services, strengthening organizations lead by children and youth, girls empowerment and leadership, civil society and government collaboration, evidence-based advocacy, or research.


    More details on funded projects will be posted soon.

    PHOTO: Aaron Tate

    Supporting Haitian Farmers in the Northwest and Artibonite Departments

    CWS is one of the few agencies that focuses exclusively on the most food insecure region of the country, the Northwest, where the arid and mountainous landscape makes farming difficult. It is also one of the most isolated and neglected regions - due to underdeveloped roads to travel the 150 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince to the North West takes seven-hours by car, and even longer by bus.


    In partnership with Foods Resource Bank, CWS supports the development of cooperatives in this region to empower rural communities to create economic, educational and food production systems. The cooperatives provide micro-credit to their members, enabling them to purchase agricultural inputs, or to complement their agricultural work with small businesses. Each cooperative is independent and self-governed, and uses its own resources to meet the specific needs of the community. Some cooperatives hire vets, some develop tree nurseries or bakeries while others have literacy classes for adults and primary schools for children.


    The strength of the cooperatives was put to the test by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, when 500,000 people fled Port-au-Prince to the rural areas. The population of the Northwest and Artibonite departments increased by 10% in a matter of days as internally displaced people joined family and friends in the region. Despite limited resources, the cooperatives welcomed and supported these earthquake survivors, sharing the small amounts of food, clothing and even cash from the cooperative funds with them. Program funding was subsequently increased enabling the displaced remain in the rural areas rather than returning to the earthquake-affected areas. CWS financed the expansion and repair of houses of families that received displaced people in the North West.


    Key achievements of the program so far:

    • Over 4,000 individuals joined the cooperative since 2005. 1,099 people joined the cooperatives since 2010, many of them earthquake survivors who resettled to the rural areas.
    • 1,439 individuals received micro-loans from the cooperatives for agricultural inputs or small business in 2011. Over 75% of the recipients were women.
    • Two cooperatives reached the milestone of having 1,000,000 Haitian Gourdes ($25,000 US) in micro-credit funds available. With this amount, the cooperatives will be economically self-sufficient indefinitely.
    • Training and technical support provided to thousands of cooperative members in credit management, community development, disaster risk reduction and other areas.


    Through this program, CWS works with SKDE (Christian Centre for Integrated Development).

    In the past three years, Haiti has been significantly impacted by three hurricanes, the earthquake and the introduction of cholera. Lesser known are the chronic regional droughts, floods and land-slides that affect the country, as well as increasing food prices and food scarcity brought on by a variety of factors.


    CWS work in this area focuses on three main components: Housing and community development, Strengthening Disabled Persons organizations, and Training on emergency recovery, preparedness and response.


    Housing and community development

    After the earthquake, CWS supported families in the rural communities of Ganthier and Boen, located midway between Port-au-Prince and the Dominican border (40 km to both) to leave the camps for internally displaced and return home. A unique collaboration between four

    ACT Alliance organizations: CWS, Christian Aid, ICCO and implementing partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID) the program used local labour and engineers to build new houses with beneficiaries contributing a small percentage to the building costs of their new homes.


    CWS continues to support housing for families affected by the earthquake in Ganthier and Boen and has also expanded its focus to address other community development issues in particular food security. Despite the relatively fertile land in this area as well as its ideal location for commerce situated between Port-au-Prince and the marketplace on the Dominican border, there are high levels of hunger in these communities. An agronomist has been hired to conduct a food security assessment and develop targeted interventions based on the results.



    Taking advantage of our membership of ACT Alliance, CWS works with Haitian partners to plan and prepare for disasters, and to integrate this into their regular program work. This includes strengthening capacity to provide quick assessments following disasters so that an appropriate response can be implemented.


    CWS is also developing a small rapid emergency response fund to enable quick responses to disasters. In particular, this will be used for small to medium-sized emergencies -such as chronic regional droughts- which do not draw international attention but which can have a major impact on communities.


    Strengthen Disabled Persons Organizations

    During the earthquake response, CWS supported a unique partnership between Service Chretien d'Haiti (SCH) and the Cuban Council of Churches to provide aid and a wide range of services, including emergency cash, counseling and community building to people with disabilities who had difficulty accessing main stream emergency relief.


    CWS learned that the best way for persons with disabilities to advocate for access to services is through their local "Disabled Persons Organizations" (DPOs). There are many of these organizations, most of them very small and localized throughout the country. They are formed and governed by persons with disabilities and therefore represent this community of people far better than any outside program ever could.


    CWS and SCH are now focusing on strengthening the capacity of nine DPOs to support their members in gaining access to community services. The program will also educate community members on the importance of DPOs and encourage people with disabilities to participate actively in the organization.

    Since 2010, CWS has partnered with Christian Aid to advocate internationally for just policies and practices toward Haiti and Haitians. A full-time Haiti advocacy officer working in the CWS Washington DC office participates in the Haiti Advocacy Working Group and conducts direct advocacy with the US Department of State, USAID, World Bank, Inter- American Development Bank, and other major stakeholders.


    Statelessness of persons of Haitian descent, particularly people born in Dominican Republic who have Haitian parents and are therefore denied Dominican citizenship and legal documents is major focus of our advocacy work. CWS led two coalition organised symposium in Washington DC (2012) and the Dominican Republic (2013) which brought together advocates, legal experts, and Dominican politicians and government workers to debate and address this issue. Since then we have continued to strengthen connections with Dominican organizations activities and leaders to advocate for a change in policies.


    CWS and Christian Aid also work with local partners to advocate inside Haiti on issues of government accountability, transparency and corruption. In 2013-14 Haiti will undergo a peer review of their progress under the UN Convention Against Corruption which it ratified in 2009. CWS will work with partners to raise awareness of this process and ensure Haitian civil society is able to participate in the process and hold the government to account.