July 22, 2011: Building engaged citizens and participatory democracy in Haiti Posted on July 22, 2011 After the devastating earthquake, Equitas’ partners in Haiti observed that conditions for the most vulnerable populations affected by the quake were deteriorating rather than improving. They reported increased violence, apathy and a lack of will to take on responsibilities for the well-being of the camps. Most importantly, the affected populations lacked the skills to tackle their problems. Over the course of the last year, with funding from CIDA and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, eighteen partner organizations in Haiti, supported by Equitas, have been working with local populations to come together to identify common problems and to work collectively to build solutions respecting human rights values. Seven local initiatives in different regions of the country were undertaken. These included training for parents in displaced persons camps on their children’s rights and their responsibilities for their children. This led to the creation of parent committees to create a more secure environment for children in the camps. In Port-au-Prince, 50 young people living in camps were made aware of their civic responsibility for environmental management. They decided to establish a set of activities in the camps to bring people to adopt positive behaviors to improving their environment with better management of sanitary facilities and waste. Other initiatives led to the inclusion of women in the management of the camps and to the greater protection of women and children from violence. Thanks to new funding from Quebec’s Ministère des Relations internationales, Equitas will be able to expand its work with its Haitian partners to assess and analyze the success of these initiatives and develop a tool-kit based on those successes in engaging citizens in participatory democracy. Other community trainers and organizers will then be trained in the use of the new educational tool with youth, women and vulnerable or marginalized groups throughout the country.