Bank Agrees to Facilitated Dialogue with Displaced Haitian Farmers: Here’s Our Top Five Tips to Make This (or Any) Dialogue a Success
In a positive, impressive decision, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to sit down with farmers harmed by one of their projects – the Caracol Industrial Park in Northeast Haiti – to discuss their concerns and potential solutions as part of a facilitated dialogue.
Those farmers – who have self-organized as the Kolektif Peyizan Viktim Tè Chabè – were left in a desperate situation after losing their land, their primary source of income and food security, in 2011 to make way for the industrial park.
The Bank has indicated a particular willingness to discuss support for new livelihood opportunities, after completing preparatory work to develop a common baseline of the farmers’ economic situation. We look forward to assisting the Kolektif, and engaging constructively with the Bank, during this dialogue process.
The Haitian Government too was invited to participate in the facilitated dialogue. However, the relevant agency (known by its French acronym UTE) has said that it will only participate after it has completed its own evaluation of the resettlement outcomes. While the Kolektif is disappointed by this decision, it nonetheless hopes to engage with UTE as they design and carry out that evaluation, to ensure that it is robust and avoids repeating earlier mistakes. An evaluation that lacks credibility will certainly not move the dialogue process forward and, even worse, risks undermining it.
Facilitated dialogue processes can provide a meaningful forum through which communities can raise and resolve their grievances. But not always. Imbalances of power, inequitable access to information and the desperation created by immediate needs can work against them.
Based on years of experience with community dialogue processes, here are Accountability Counsel’s Top 5 Tips for the Bank to make this process a success:
We are hopeful that the dialogue between the Bank and the Kolektif will meet these principles, although there will clearly be challenges along the way. Watch this space for updates as the dialogue begins.