Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Haiti, Assembly Jobs Aren't The Whole Answer

Former senator Mike DeWine was correct in arguing that trade can help Haiti to its feet ["What Haiti Needs," op-ed, Sept. 9], but caution must be exercised in viewing low-paying assembly plant jobs in urban settings as the key to resolving Haiti's problems.

While investment in the assembly sector in the 1980s did create jobs, it also fueled significant off-the-land migration to Haiti's burgeoning slums, especially because corresponding investment in rural Haiti, where two-thirds of Haitians barely survive as small farmers, was lacking. Few of those hopeful migrants, crammed into slums built mostly on river deltas or low-lying alluvial plains, found factory jobs. At the same time, Haiti became less able to feed itself as cheap imported food -- principally rice that is no longer cheap -- created disincentives to farm. In desperation, many rural Haitians increasingly turned to charcoal production as a means of survival, progressively denuding hillsides that now channel flood waters to swollen rivers that inundate those river deltas and alluvial plains where the poor live.

Click Link Below To Continue To Read Rest Of Article…
In the aftermath of massive protests in April against the high cost of living, Haitian President René Préval identified increased agricultural production as a top priority in his country. Once the victims of recent flooding receive the care they urgently require, investment in rural Haiti -- for environmental rehabilitation and increased food production -- should finally eclipse a focus on the creation of low-wage assembly plant jobs.



The writer directs Trinity Washington University's Haiti Program.

Source: WashingtonPost.Com

No comments:

Post a Comment