A Haitian Civic Service Initiative
The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, was a human tragedy that rightly commanded the world’s compassion and mobilized many to provide on-the-ground support. Yet, even as the Haitian government and the international community continue to address the immediate post-disaster needs of the people, the Social Science Research Council is working to ensure that a crucial opportunity not be lost: the chance to help Haiti free itself of crippling dependency on foreign aid and improve its internal capacity for disaster response and mitigation.
With this in mind, the Council, in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Partnership for Democratic Governance (OECD-PDG), has thrown its support behind the effort to create a national Haitian Civic Service (HCS) program. Acknowledging the potential of Haiti’s largely untapped youth, an HCS initiative would be a means for the Haitian government to mobilize the young people of Haiti to help rebuild their country’s infrastructure and reverse decades of environmental degradation.
On March 30, 2010, the Council hosted a meeting of key Haitian and international actors to examine precedents, opportunities, and constraints associated with the creation of an HCS. This meeting was the first step in developing practical plans for (a) expanding awareness and knowledge of an HCS initiative, (b) building support for the establishment of an HCS program, and (c) producing an action-oriented agenda of next steps.