“In times like these we all need to keep moving.” - Mr. Pompee
Mr. Pompee, age 72, was one of 66 individuals employed in an Episcopal Relief & Development–supported employment project in the urban center of Carrefour, Haiti.
During this 20-day cash-for-work project, CEDDISEC (Centre Diocésain de Développement Intégré et de Secours, the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church in Haiti) worked with the Episcopal Parish Ascension of Thor to coordinate the removal of over 50 cubic tons of rubble from an urban walkway. This debris from the January 2010 earthquake had been obstructing access to a residential area; families feared for the safety of small children and the elderly in the precarious climb over the mountain of rubble.
While employment opportunities through cash-for-work programs are temporary and short-term, participants like Mr. Pompee continue expressing appreciation for such initiatives. The extra 4,000 to 5000 gourdes (about $100 to $150 US) typically earned is a welcome addition, helping meet needs for everyday food and goods, housing reconstruction supplies, and repayment of debts to local merchants.
Additionally, the engagement of Haitians and Episcopal parishes in community-led recovery contributes to their psychological well-being as they gain a voice and active role in helping themselves and their communities. Like Mr. Pompee’s, work projects typically facilitate community-wide recovery, resulting in removal of rubble; rehabilitation of markets, clinics and schools; sanitation campaigns; hurricane preparedness and response; road and ditch repair; reforestation; agriculture production; and special assistance for vulnerable residents.
As a Program Officer with Episcopal Relief & Development, I have seen numerous post-disaster studies debating the pros and cons of short-term cash transfer programming such as this. However, when I questioned Mr. Pompee about the value of the CEDDISEC project, his response was direct and without hesitation: “We need more programs like this.” And when I further asked whether such projects should employ fewer people in order to pay higher wages, he responded, “It is better to employ more people and to keep everyone moving. In times like this we all need to keep moving…and we all need to eat.”
Since 2010 CEDDISEC, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, has launched 137 cash-for-work community recovery projects, providing short-term employment to 4,768 individuals.
It is true that 2011 was a year of progress and restoration in which many people were able to regain their traditional social and employment activities. Yet, as we approach the second anniversary of the earthquake, many people remain blocked by Haiti’s unresolved land issues and the quake’s lingering economic impact on their lives.
Therefore, as we move into 2012, CEDDISEC intends to keep people moving forward by continuing cash-for-work projects that specifically target the creation of employment opportunities for individuals who remain chronically impacted. These include youth and adults still living in urban tent camps, as well as micro business women and men who have been unable to recover the capital needed to re-launch their trades. At the same time, in conjunction with the Directors of Episcopal and public schools, cash-for-work projects will also provide employment opportunities to parents that had to withhold their children from 2011-12 school enrollment for economic reasons.
For more information about cash-for-work programs and other Phase III recovery activities supported by Episcopal Relief & Development, visit http://www.er-d.org/haiti.
Tammi Mott is a Program Officer with Episcopal Relief & Development.
Photos: Top – Mr. Pompee (right), with Hipolite, project coordinator from the Episcopal Parish Ascension of Thor, Carrefour, gives a thumbs-up to the cash-for-work program. Center – Program participants moving rubble from the walkway. Bottom – Mr. Pompee (center) with Riguad, manager of the cash-for-work program, and Mrs. Ylofeme, a fellow participant, on the cleared walkway.