Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

A Map For Haiti's Success Stories

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Over the past several years, the proliferation of crisis mapping has provided a hyperlocal perspective on the threats faced by people throughout the world — in conflict zones and corrupt states, under governments practicing human rights violations and in areas ravaged by natural disasters. Yet in Haiti, where crisis mapping played a significant role in the response to the 2010 earthquake, a group of community action workers wants to turn the concept on its head.

“The stigma that’s attached to this country, that it is needy and dependent, a lot of us knew that wasn’t right,” says Sabina Carlson, a project manager with Future Generations Haiti. Last summer, the organization launched Wozo Ayiti, a mapping project for social change and community initiatives driven by Haitians for the benefit of their fellow citizens — like a town that built and manages its own health clinic, or a dairy co-op founded to provide an alternative industry in an area threatened by deforestation. It’s a success map, created with the aim of contradicting perspectives in the international community that paint Haitians as the passive recipients of NGO aid. The fact that such initiatives have not been highlighted “actually hurts reconstruction in this country,” Carlson says.

"There are issues like reforestation that have been challenges for Haiti, where there have been countless projects that have been tried and have failed. When we find innovative strategies in communities like Valere [in south Haiti], where they have succesfully reforestated their area over the past two decades, you wonder why this home-grown strategy can't be used more broadly?"

As such, Wozo Ayiti also aims to raise the profile of community actors in the eyes of fellow Haitians, fostering collaboration across the country. To collect community success stories, Carlson says they were able to build off of a network of mappers who had been involved in Haiti’s Open Street Map, young Haitians used to “mapping and editing and using open source software.” They have since dispatched mapping agents to communities throughout four of Haiti’s ten départements, a kind of street team “climbing mountains and crossing rivers” to gather information.

Almost sixty success stories have been mapped so far, with more to be added on an ongoing basis. Though infrastructural limitations keep many Haitians offline, Carlson says that cellphones are ubiquitous in the country, and that smartphone ownership is on the rise. The next step for Wozo Ayiti will hopefully be a mobile platform, furthering the map’s reach and expanding its network of collaborators.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

More