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9731: Durban Suggests Aid Project for USAID Consideration (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

Last week U.S. Ambassador Curran made a valid observation at a
Peace Corps function (completion of training by 15 new
volunteers).  The speech, broadcast in a pretty respectable
French (to my tin ear) on Radio Metropole, pointed out that
contrary to the impression given by some there is no embargo on
U.S. aid to Haiti.  In fact USAID has some $75 million budgeted
for the current year.   Maybe it was $70 million, I don't

  SIDE:  In the interest of 'transparence' it would be nice
         to know where this money ends up.  And since it is
         probably published info, is there anyone on the
         list who could provide a breakdown?

My hunch is that a good part of this aid never gets much beyond
the Washington Beltway.. OK, maybe some does get to the
impressive USAID edifice in Port-au-Prince.  But exactly how 
does this aid impact one specific family in (say) Gonaive?


A Christmas gift for each Haitian employee has become something
of a tradition in our company, and this year our Social Activity
Committee has proposed a "rechaud" (stove) selling on the
streets of PAP for H$40.  It's a simple little one burner affair
from China that uses kerosine.  The importer quotes us US$6.25
each if we'll buy 500 and said he could supply 5000 if we

Almost certainly this stove could be bought in volume for US$3
each in China.  How about a USAID project to import a million of
them for free distribution to each Haitian holder of a voter
registration card (which would receive a pinprick hole in the
corner to ensure the holder only got one!).  

This would represent a mere 4% of the USAID budget next year and
would achieve a number of worthwhile goals:
  1.  Reduce consumption of charcoal in Haiti - save 
          countless trees. 
  2.  Potentially reach every family in Haiti in a very 
          direct and visible way enabling them to save
          money on food preparation.
  3.  Promote USA goodwill - each stove comes with a sticker:
          "Gift from the People of the USA"
  4.  Encourage Haitian voter registration.
  5.  Promote USA/China goodwill since it would be handled by 
          the US as a bi-laterial purchase. 

This proposal needs some work of course.  For one thing, who
would overseee the actual distribution of the stoves?  No reason
why the 4 oil companies in Haiti (Texaco, Esso, Shell, Elf)
couldn't be asked to chip in financially, since they presumably
would see a big increase in kerosene consumption.

Lance Durban 

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