Campaigning On Waste - A Case Study from Haiti

The Tearfund office in Haiti has managed to work closely with networks of passionate youth all over the country and have been stirring these groups to step out in advocacy. I travelled to the region of Nippes to meet these young people first hand and run a movement building Bootcamp with them. The aim was to enable a group of 40 young people to start a movement campaigning on creation care that would eventually move out into other regions of Haiti.

As we travelled from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to the more rural region of Nippes, it became clear that one of the most pressing issues in Haiti is waste.

Both in the cities and in the rural regions, waste is discarded on the roadside, in drainage systems and in fallow fields. When trash begins to pile up and becomes too difficult to deal with, it is burnt wherever it lies. This poses a large health risk with the burning of waste causing disease and in some cases even death. Today, 2 billion people in the world’s poorest countries are living and working among piles of trash - that’s one in four of us. Drinking polluted water. Breathing toxic air. Battling sickness. This all leads to up to a million deaths a year - and each day the waste mountains are growing. It’s clear from these statistics that we need to take radical action on waste now.

We arrived in Nippes and set about three days of movement building training. We began with the biblical basis for creation care. There was a particularly great discussion on the principles of Jubilee which map out God’s ownership of the land we cultivate, and our mandate to steward it well. We then examined the great movements of our time to find out what made them tick and what lessons we could glean from their success and failures.

The young people then moved into examining the nuts and bolts of their own potential movement in Haiti. After much discussion, the group coalesced on the idea of a waste campaign. From my brief time in the country, it was easy to see why.

The team there are now busily planning their ‘Green Nippes’ campaign which will seek to challenge and change social norms among young people. The first stage of the campaign will involve trips to schools to teach young people about the importance of recycling. The second stage will see the movement target local authorities and demand waste management facilities for poor communities, so people have better health, more jobs, and cleaner streets, bringing God’s jubilee principles closer.

It was remarkable to see these young people take ownership and responsibility for the community they live in. We can all take inspiration from their actions and play our own part in renewing our world together in solidarity. Why not look at our waste action page and see how you can join our global campaign on waste.