PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Haiti’s recently-launched community-based decentralization program, Katye Pam Poze (KPP), kicked off its community cafe series in Jacmel with nearly 100 local residents sharing their views on what their neighborhoods need most.
According to Minister of the Interior Thierry Mayard-Paul, who is spearheading and coordinating President Michel Martelly’s new program, “every community’s needs are different, so we will be visiting all ten pilot cities throughout Haiti learning their specific requirements through our cafe dialogues,” he said. “That way, we can ensure that we address the needs of each community, under an integral and manageable framework.”
The cafe dialogues are a key aspect of KPP’s participatory approach, which seeks to bring decision-making closer to the citizen level. Once local needs are assessed through cafes, as well as extensive asset-based community development research on-the-ground, a detailed blueprint will be developed for each of the ten pilot communities, laying out priority subprograms that will guarantee access to basic social services and citizen safety.
President Martelly’s Delegate, Pierre Michel Lafontant, stated during his opening remarks that President Martelly has committed the full support of his administration to KPP as a cornerstone of the Haitian government’s National Decentralization Agenda. “Katye Pam Poze will build a safer and more prosperous Haiti, one community at a time, while moving towards the consolidation of democratic governance,” said the delegate. “It has been the President’s goal from the beginning of his decision to run for president, that Haitian citizens be more directly involved in planning, implementing, and managing programs and initiatives that impact their communities. With the launch of Katye Pam Poze, Haitians now have a voice—and a responsibility—-within and alongside the central government.”
The inaugural cafe was attended by nearly 100 people representing Jacmel’s diverse resident base, including the mayor, Andris Ronald, whose enthusiastic participation showed full support for the program. Initiating the research models that will inform local Katye Pam Poze pilots, participants in Friday’s kick-off cafe in Jacmel were asked to identify the most pressing issues confronting their community. Security was the overarching concern, followed by other issues ranging from water sanitation to education. Almost everyone agreed that the Sud-Est department, within which Jacmel is located, requires a comprehensive healthcare facility.
“The enthusiastic participation of everyone here today fully validates our approach to community-based decentralization through the Katye Pam Poze program and the accompanying cafes,” said Mayard-Paul. “There was a lot of energy and expectation centered on having a voice in the decision-making table, and participants took their roles very seriously in working together to determine Jacmel’s priority needs.”
Citizen participation is critical for the success of KPP, and Minister Mayard-Paul instructed participants that within the context of decentralization, Haiti’s communities are owned by the citizens. “These are your communities,” he said. “And I applaud you for stepping up to be part of the change, in partnership with the government.”
The Minister highlighted that the range of actions within KPP includes strengthening natural disaster mitigation efforts; improving the delivery of health, housing and education services; recovering public spaces; developing local citizen initiatives and creating job opportunities in tandem with the private sector. “In the end, our goal is to improve the quality of life of the Haitian people by enabling safe and prosperous communities, right where they live,” he said. “Building the capacity of citizens to manage and maintain KPP programs and infrastructure at the local level is very important to our administration, as is developing culture and sports programs. This is an ambitious decentralization program.”
Broadly defined, decentralization is the process by which power and other resources are transferred from the central government to lower governmental levels, such as regions, departments, municipalities, and communal sections. This enables local entities to provide services to their communities and conduct local government tasks. According to Mayard-Paul, advocates believe that decentralization is one of the most effective ways to ensure that local governments are held accountable to the citizens they represent.
Mayard-Paul pointed out that while Katye Pam Poze is modeled on successful experiences in other parts of the world, including Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe and the United States, it is Haitian-specific. “Katye Pam Poze introduces a new and innovative Haitian approach to community-based decentralization that addresses our conditions and reality in order to drive sustainable development and job creation at the local level,” concluded Mayard-Paul.