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a592: A cleaner, healthier natural environment (fwd)

From: GUY S ANTOINE <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

Politically, Haiti has been in a state of crisis for many years, but one
should be reminded that there are also all sorts of crises going on
in that unfortunate land.

I welcome responses to the following editorial which I will in turn
post on Windows on Haiti, hopefully presenting a variety of sound
and imaginative approaches Haitians can take to begin solving the
ecological disaster which is daily unfolding before our naked eyes.

A cleaner, healthier natural environment (pou Ayiti vini pi bl)

Together we can make Haiti a more beautiful corner of this world than
it has been in years. To repair the ecological disaster is an urgent and
overriding priority. Concomitantly we must clean our streets, recycle
the myriad empty plastic containers of "dlo sikre" that litter the streets
of our cities, and most un-spectacularly the capital of our country,
Port-au-Prince. We should organize contests for individuals as well as
private companies to present the most efficient solutions to help the
country manage its waste. We must clear our coastline of the excessive
litter on our public beaches, which are rightfully one of Haiti's most
precious assets. When I visited the city of Jacmel a year ago, I felt
ashamed of this otherwise great tourist attraction. A drop-dead
gorgeous coastline was polluted to the point of becoming a filthy pigsty.

Let's wash the face of Mother Haiti! (We don't need USAID dollars
to do it for us.)

Let's dispose properly of our bio- (and non-) degradable products.
Today, they are responsible for having killed a good deal of our
marine life in addition to some counterproductive fishing methods.
Our fishermen associations are learning more productive ways to
fish and to manage our fisheries, but they must receive more active
support from our Agriculture and Environment ministries. Having
laws or guidelines on the books is not enough, if they are not being
enforced. However, this is not the responsibility of the government
alone. Aide toi et le ciel t'aidera. Fk nou tout aprann prezve bl
kado lanm Karayib sa Bondje te bay nou an.

We should prevent those wastes from continuing to poison our
sea life: little fish die, big fish go elsewhere. Today our plastic
waste products are reaching other Caribbean islands, threatening
their fisheries. This must be stopped.

We must seek alternatives to coal burning for our cooking, to diminish
the pressures exerted by our urban populations, and most noticeably
Port-au-Prince, on peyi andey to cut trees to produce coal to bring
to market in the big cities. When there are not enough trees or when
the few remaining ones are visibly and literally straining to hang on the
side of our mountains with their bare roots, our abundant tropical rains
are not absorbed and the water makes its way to sea while causing
much distress on its way. Toxic wastes are carried with it, little fish die,
big fish go elsewhere. Without trees, much of Haiti is becoming a desert,
save some still magnificent areas impractically far enough away from our
urban centers (but for how long?) Without trees, our birds have
disappeared also, finding solace perhaps in protected areas of the
Dominican Republic. Tragically, on my last trip to a gentle corner of
the country that nursed my upbringing, I searched the skies in vain for
the many species of birds I had come to know so well as a youthful
and avid naturalist. When there are not enough trees, agriculture
becomes less and less productive, and ultimately our peasants go the
way of the birds.

When there are no trees, when we do not take proper measures to
manage our wastes, we are faced with a total environmental disaster:
our big sea turtles (kart) have disappeared, our fish and bird
populations have suffered great losses, our agriculture has become
much more difficult, our legumes have consequently become more
expensive, life has become most unattractive in certain corners of the
country, our men and women look wistfully beyond our borders,
and sooner or later they abandon the land. The land of their ancestors.
The land named Ayiti Toma.

It is well understood that ecology is only one of Haiti's ills today, but
at least in this particular context there are some clear actions we can
take to reverse our decline, as individuals and as a Nation, and we
can do so during 2002. The land is ours, and if we do not respect it,
we should not expect other people to love it and respect it for us.
Clean streets, sane neighborhoods, well kept beaches, more trees,
these are not only a requirement for living, but at any point in time
they are indicators of our love of the country and the health of our

What I most sincerely wish for Haiti in 2002 is that we, her children,
begin to wash her face so the land becomes as beautiful as it used to
be, so the land replenishes her ability to feed more and more, so to
put a stop to our ecological disaster. If not in 2002, then when?

Even if we do not have money, with or without the support of the
international community, we can begin this work. Not only are we
capable of doing so, it is a civic duty for every Haitian who lives in
Haiti, and for all nationals living abroad to support the ecological
renewal of our country, Ayiti.

Guy S. Antoine