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a598: Re: a595-a592: A cleaner, healthier natural environment -Antoine responds to Auguste (fwd)
From: GUY S ANTOINE <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
Mr. Auguste, I thought I made it clear that I was seeking input from Corbettizens
and that my purpose was to present the suggestions together as a packaged
document from which real initiatives could be drawn. I certainly did not mean
to simply lecture. Actually, both you and I (and countless others, I am sure)
made the same observation with respect to the juna bottles, which in my text
I referred to as "dlo sikre" containers. On my last trip to Haiti, I found them
littering just about everywhere, including at least one side of the National Palace
and the front of the Police headquarters in Pétionville. Absolutely no kidding!
(This is almost as bad as another instance, on a prior trip, when I witnessed
someone tying his goat at the base of a monument erected to honor a national
hero, on a square just off the side of Champs de Mars (I am not sure whether
that particular spot is considered part of Champs de Mars or not). The man
simply tied his goat and went his merry way. I was flabbergasted, but I confess
that I did not dare to untie the goat. (Somehow, I wanted to live longer than
the goat... go figure!)
I recall that several years (maybe 5) ago on this very list, Professor Leslie
Desmangles had already called our attention to the growing problem with the
juna bottles in several insistent posts. In the ensuing years, the problem only
got worse. To solve this problem, one must understand first of all its causes.
They are related to many fields. Let me just cite a few likely ones:
1) improper business practices - Who makes Juna and why they do not take
a more active role in cleaning their image and the social/physical environment
in which they operate? Obviously, we're talking Big Business here, and
Big Business's level of caring is... well, just about the same everywhere in this
world. Which leads directly to this next point.
2) lack of regulations or lack of enforcement from the Ministry of Environment
3) lack of waste management expertise
4) lack of funding to support an effective waste management program and the
recycling of biodegradables.
5) lack of nutritional knowledge (Haitians obviously consume too much "dlo
sikre", though I don't go much for water myself.) Shouldn't we promote the
distribution and consumption of fruits, many of which simply rot in the countryside?
6) and the biggie: lack of civic education - why people basically do not give a damn.
Mr. Auguste, if you care to go to my website, click on "Ekoloji pou Ayiti", and
you will see that a couple of people have already responded to the editorial and
came up with a couple of solutions. Are they going to change the face of Haiti
all by themselves? Obviously not. On the other hand, Haitian people generally
expect that absolutely everything should be done by their government. While
the government does have an important role to play in the renewal of our
environment and while this is in fact one of its key responsibilities, I think that
both you and I know that in the long term no government program is sustainable
if the citizens are not inclined or do not see it as their own duty to cooperate.
The purpose of my text was not to give the government of Haiti a break in that
regard, but to call attention to the fact that individuals also can make a difference
...such as cleaning up after themselves and not littering so carelessly.
I was told this absolutely TRUE story: A few Haitian-Americans go to Haiti for
a project which called them to visit the Southern part of the country. They were
accompanied by a bureaucrat. On their way, they consumed all sorts of good
stuff: Haitian kola, sugar cane, mangoes, and so forth. One of these Haitian
Americans carefully assembled the wastes and tied them in a plastic bag, to be
"properly disposed" of later (at least in theory, because I do not really know
what proper disposal ultimately means in Haiti). As they were driven to their
destination, the bureaucrat reached for the plastic bag and threw it by the side
of the road, making mention of the fact that he did not care to carry wastes in
the vehicle while there was nothing wrong with simply discarding them by the
road: out of sight, out of mind. This bureaucrat later became a Prime Minister
So, you ask me what I propose. Oh, just a bunch of clearly impractical things,
such as waste management, water conservation and purification, alternative
sources of energy, top soil regeneration and reforestation, enforcement of
regulations already on the books governing land use and fisheries, and above
all civic education... all of which Johnny McCalla neatly summed up to me
one day in two words: "Clean Streets". It took me a while to understand the
verity of what he said... until it dawned on me that indeed, it's all related.
Wildly impractical solutions to be sure (what? we have no money, there's this
matter of the elections that has to be resolved before anything else, everyone
wants a turn at being president, then there is this rice scandal, there's this
matter of Foreign Aid not disbursed but on which we dutifully pay interest,
there's the attempted coups, we also have to prepare for carnival, and with
all of this going on Antoine expects to have "clean streets"? He must be out
of his freaking mind!)
Well... I was only observing and asking for your input. That may be lunacy,
but where's the crime? You mention the following:
"Traveling back to Port-au-Prince from Lulie, Ibo Beach, a sharp observer can
see a thin blue smoke cover over Port-au-Prince in the distance; courtesy of
all the tap tap mufflers with their black thick exhausts. Does the government
do car inspection in Haiti? Is there any automobile emission control in effect?"
Well, that's certainly something to think about. Someone needs to act at that
end of the scale, but at the other end someone may also choose not to litter
the street and the roadside. This is what I propose: let's put our heads together
and develop some sensible solutions, rather than placing all the burden on anyone
in particular. Individual actions are to be commanded and publicized. Cleaning
the face of Haiti might just become contagious.
Guy S. Antoine