Much like for the rest of the world, 2020 was a challenging year for Haiti. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already difficult socio-political and economic situation. Food insecurity and unemployment continued to rise, making it difficult for youth to sustain themselves. Haiti’s large youth population can be one of the country’s greatest economic assets, but challenging times bring limited opportunities for stable employment and can push youth onto less stable paths such as gang affiliation.
To offer productive alternatives, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), with the support of the Fund for Economic and Social Assistance (FAES) (Haiti), launched the “Temporary Social Safety Net and Skills for Youth”, a program that creates income-generating opportunities for youth between the ages of 18 and 35. Financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), youth will work on projects to improve their communities in Cité Soleil, Martissant, Petit-Goâve, Miragoâne, Carrefour, Haut Turgeau, Morne-l’Hôpital, and other areas in partnership with Viva Rio.
The needs of these communities are widespread: from densely populated areas and widespread poverty, to poor infrastructure and high levels of insecurity. By channeling the energy, creativity, and passion of the community’s youth toward addressing these needs, the program will help generate income for unemployed young people and strengthen the social fabric of these communities through small infrastructure work and the promotion of entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
For this project, PADF launched a Participatory Action Research activity with members of the communities to develop projects based on their needs. Projects may include installing streetlights to improve safety for women and children at night or improving school sanitation facilities which can contribute to an increase in attendance. Once projects are defined, participants will work in small groups to collaborate with local enterprises to complete the projects. A strong emphasis will be placed on including underrepresented groups, especially women and girls, to deliver equitable and sustainable results. These projects are projected to provide jobs for over 3,000 young people in the community, who will also benefit from trainings on leadership skills and financial management.
Local officials and community members are fully engaged and supportive of the program.
PADF looks forward to working with youth in these communities. With a new source of income and increased skills, these young people will contribute to strengthening the resilience of their communities and restoring hope for a brighter future for Haiti.