After the earthquake of 2010, many of those displaced by the disaster relocated to a vast informal settlement on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Known as Canaan—Haiti’s Promised Land—the previously uninhabited area has grown rapidly to an estimated 200,000 residents. It is Haiti’s largest informal settlement, on track to become the country’s third largest city.
Located on a floodplain 10 miles north of Haiti's capital, Canaan has precious little infrastructure. Without paved roads, water mains, sewers or an electrical grid, residents struggle to meet basic daily needs. Most families live in small, piecemeal structures—cobbled together with cinder blocks, particle board, tarpaulins and corrugated metal. Some still live in tents, more than six years after the earthquake.
Despite great challenges, Canaan is also a place of opportunity and ingenuity—a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of the people who are rebuilding their lives there. Out of a barren dusty plain, Canaan’s residents are forging a new city teeming with energy and vitality.
We have chosen to locate our program in Canaan because of the many unmet needs there—but also because of the opportunity for innovation and positive change. The future of Canaan is being written as we speak and we're excited to be part of it.
Combite des Professioneles pour la Valorisation de Canaan
[Professional Cooperative for the Development of Canaan]
Combite (French) / Konbit (Kreyol):
An informal cooperative of people helping a neighbor work to the accompaniment of drumming and singing.
Civic action runs deep in Haiti. Our partner organization in Canaan is a prime example. Founded in 2010, just a few months after the earliest residents arrived in the area, COPROVACA has established itself as an active civic association with more than 200 local members. Their efforts have strengthened the social fabric of the community and improved the lives of residents in countless ways—including providing better access to clean water, electricity, public lighting and even street signs.
We are impressed with COPROVACA's accomplishments, and we believe that supporting strong Haitian-led organizations is critical to Haiti’s development. That's why we have worked cooperatively with COPROVACA's leadership committee throughout the development of our microsavings program. The model being implemented in the field is the product of many conversations and compromises, which have strengthened the design of the program and increased its chances of success. Most importantly, it is the product of a genuinely collaborative process, which recognizes the value that both partner organizations bring to the table.