An Everyday Utopia: Clean Water, Clean Energy, and Waste Management Strategies for Arcahaie, Haiti

Presenter: Elizabeth Farrell

Research Category: Humanities and Arts

A New York Times article from 1947 titled “The Pleasures of Haiti,” described this Caribbean nation as “fiercely independent, riotously colorful and surprisingly inexpensive.”  Once called the “Jewel of the Antilles,” this popular tourist destination of the 1940s is now one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere.  Still replete with culture, life and vibrancy, Haiti demands our attention and efforts.

Haiti has been a subject of political unrest, violence and government mismanagement since the days of its founding, which has left the country without a reliable infrastructural system. These challenges are further exacerbated by natural disasters and poorly organized recovery efforts. Corruption has infiltrated every aspect of local development while community stakeholders that can enact change are difficult to identify. In a country where a significant percentage of its citizens still lack basic amenities such as access to clean water, clean energy and a functioning waste-management system, there is an urgent need for a masterplan that addresses the everyday needs of the Haitian population. This project proposes a utopian vision for Haiti in the form of a living, working, and learning utopia that integrates all three of these infrastructural challenges within a unified framework. This proposal advocates for an integrated and self-sustaining approach to development that makes use of renewable power sources, local water systems and an informal approach to waste management. By providing new skills and job opportunities to Haitians, the project aims to strengthen the local economy while simultaneously bringing vitality back to a country in transition.