Elifaite Manassé, a married father of three children, is the owner of Eben-Ezer Restaurant in Caracol. As a small business owner, he was struggling to gain enough revenue to renovate the dilapidated facilities. “The bad condition of the premises was preventing us from attracting clients,” he said. “It was like a vicious cycle.”
Since the start of CDD activities, Mrs. and Mr. Manassé (pictured above) have hosted over 60 community meetings at their Eben-Ezer Restaurant. In turn, their
revenue has increased by 108% monthly, allowing them to renovate the floor and increase their number of restaurant employees from five to nine.
In 2018, PADF/OAS’ USAID-funded Community-Driven Development (CDD) program began operations in 15 different communes throughout Haiti, including Caracol. Through the CDD program, community members, like Manassé, are able to have a say in the future of their communities. They come together with local government officials to discuss possible projects, prioritize their options, and implement their decisions. Seeing these projects come to fruition increases their trust in the power of democratic processes and local governance.
CDD builds strong local networks with local authorities, steering committees, community-based organizations and local businesses. These networks allow project operations to continue through periods of turmoil and social unrest, like the protests that occurred throughout Haiti from February through December 2019. Through its networks, CDD generates jobs, supports participation of local actors, and encourages long-term governance. The program results in physical improvements to infrastructure, and fosters trust amongst community members, forming bonds which can combat violence and promote peace.
In Caracol, the community decided to drain and repair a canal. They hired 154 people from the commune to clean sediment and excreta from 1,000 meters of the canal and improve 450 meters with stone masonry. They also planted 150 trees along the banks of the canal.
Over the course of the canal improvements, the population of Caracol held over 60 meetings. As restaurant owner, Manassé could provide a spacious site for his community to meet. In turn, business at the Eben-Ezer Restaurant began to pick up. The Eben-Ezer Restaurant’s revenue increased by a monthly 108%. The upshot in revenue allowed Manassé to renovate the floor of the restaurant and hire four new employees.
Manassé was also proud to be able to contribute to the CDD process. “The CDD Plan process constitutes the broadest community movement I have experienced so far,” said Manassé. “As a community leader as well, I have been very happy to be able to employ so many people from the area.”