dimanche 14 septembre 2014

Governing differently: Martelly and Lamothe go to the people.-

By: Adma Riché
 
The Martelly/Lamothe administration continues to innovate and create proximity that never existed before between the people and its government.
 
The island of La Gonave which has long been just a piece of land in the middle of the ocean, was showcased on live television on Saturday and stands to rip the benefits of this historic day.
 
"Gouvènman an Lakay Ou" (The government in your town) is the brainchild of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. It's a forum where the entire government including the Prime minister, cabinet ministers, general managers and decision makers come to a community in a town hall style meeting to listen to the population and take actions. It is the government's tool for popular dialogue in order to inquire about the urgent needs of host communities, find sustainable solutions, fight against social exclusion and injustice, promote local governance, and encourage economic and social progress in the country's most remote regions.
 
The tenth edition held this past Saturday at La Gonave was special. Long neglected by previous administrations, the people on the island were left to fan for themselves. It was their opportunity to address the government directly and make their voice heard. The government delivered 23 fishing boats as well as fish aggregating devices to fishermen's associations. Two computer labs were installed in Pointe-à-Raquette and Anse-a-Galet and an all-terrain vehicle was delivered to the police station to help keep the island safe.
 
La Gonave is now part of the "Special Plans" program. As such, the island will have its own set of construction and road maintenance equipment. The Health ministry will provide a boat ambulance to transport critical care patients to hospitals on the main land.
 
For the Special Plan of La Gonave, the Martelly / Lamothe administration has mobilized 60 million gourdes, 20 million for strengthening small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 40 million for the construction of schools, roads, health, sports and cultural facilities.
 
On the eve of the main event, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe visited the town of Pointe-à-Raquette to inquire about the situation of extreme poverty and address the social needs of the villagers. Concerned about the socio-economic situation on the island, the prime minister visited the health center, the national school, the playground and habitats in order to be better informed of the precarious living conditions of the population. He also took the opportunity to distribute school kits to children. 250 desks and chairs made of recycled plastic bags were also delivered to the schools.
 
"We are outraged by what we saw. But we will not stand idly watching people live in this situation. We will accelerate the special plan for the island in order to improve the living conditions of the population; we want to build infrastructure" added Mr. Lamothe.
 
"Our government will not allow La Gonave to perish, it must not die. It is our moral obligation to come to the needs of the population. We are deeply touched and want to act quickly and effectively" he added.
 
Residents of Pointe-à-Raquette consider the visit of the Prime Minister and his ministerial delegation as a historic event. They unanimously testify to the Government's attention and determination to improve their living conditions.
 
Saturday September 13, 2014 is a day that will not be soon forgotten by the population of La Gonave. Several thousand residents came from every corner of the island to meet their government. They were pleasantly surprised when President Michel Martelly showed up. Emotions ran high as he took to the podium to address a crowd that could hardly control its enthusiasm. The President brought a message of hope. One teary eyes villager confessed that in his 72 years on earth, this was the first time he came face to face with a President.
 
After a brief moment of entertainment by the President, it was time to get down to business. Led by Prime Minister Lamothe, government ministers start assessing the needs of the population and offer solutions.
 
The first commitment involves a grant of 1,750.000 gourdes to the federation that regroups twenty merchant associations on the island. These funds will help strengthen the Federation and 300 members will benefit directly from this grant. The Government plans to contribute more to this structure. The Ministry of Commerce is committed to offer financial support to 45 small entrepreneurs.
 
The Ministry of Agriculture plans to rehabilitate mangroves and launch treatment and soil conservation programs in La Gonave. Fishermen's associations of La Gonave received 180 coolers, 180 machetes and bowls. Two fishing shops will soon be built on the island. A thousand agricultural tools were also distributed to farmers.
 
In education, five scholarships of excellence were awarded to students who scored higher on the official exams. Ten more scholarships will be awarded to other young people of La Gonave. In addition to the educational infrastructures that will be built on the island, the Government plans to carry out an aggressive urban renewal program. A public square was built and inaugurated the previous day by the Prime Minister.
 
As part of La Gonave's special plan, fifty additional projects will be carried out on the island. They include construction of 200 social housing units in Pointe-à-Raquette; the rehabilitation of the health center; street paving in Anse-a-Galet and Pointe-à-Raquette; the construction of the road linking the two towns; rehabilitation of Anse-a-Galet's port and the construction of a fishing village.
 
In all, the government made over forty promises to the people of La Gonave. With a completion rate of 70% for previous commitments made to the nine communities that previously hosted the event, it is fair to say that it will not be long before the islanders start seeing improvements in their living conditions.
 
There were some light moments at the La Gonave's     edition of GOL. The local compas band "Deal" finally found the spotlight. As DJ Kash Kash blared their hit song titled La Gonave, the lead singer and the bandleader took their seats at the head table next to the Prime Minister. After exposing their difficulty to Mr. Lamothe, they walked out with a contract to produce three jingles promoting government programs. We must also mention the lady who has been teaching on the island for 42 years. After awkwardly calling the Prime Minister "Michel Lamothe", she offered a special song that sounded like she was making it up as she sang. They were farmers, fishermen, teachers, and community organizers among those who had a chance to talk face to face with their government leaders.
 
The "Gouvènman an Lakay Ou" program is one of the highlights of the Martelly/Lamothe administration style of government. Leaving the comfort of the cozy offices in the capital to endure a nine and half hour marathon under less than perfect condition is a way for President Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe to show their engagement to the Haitian people. As President Martelly said, there would be no government without the people. "We are here to serve", he concluded. 
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