Should citizen efforts by Haitians to help Haiti incorporate blogging?

Excerpts from an interesting Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles :

Few Haitian immigrants have the cash or the A-list roster of friends -- and the ability to rally them to Haiti's aid -- as Haiti-born hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean. Nevertheless, South Florida's Haitian-American community, after decades of growing a solid, if still struggling, middle class, is increasingly engaged in helping its Caribbean homeland.

In addition to hometown associations, Haitians have also tapped church and professional groups, and organizations like the Florida Association for Volunteer Actions in the Caribbean and Americas (FAVACA). Formed by former Florida governor and retired U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, the state-funded organization allows Haitian professionals to donate their time and skills on short-term missions.

There is always more to do, though, and political differences sometimes get in the way.
''We have been too political,'' said North Miami councilman Jacques Despinosse. 'Every person treats Haiti like a battlefield. They would like to help, but their people need to be in power.

Despinosse has led two separate delegations of Haitian and non-Haitian elected officials to Haiti this year. A few days before Jean arrived in Haiti to help inaugurate a computer lab that his Yéle Haiti Foundation helped equip at a public school in Croix-des-Bouquets, northeast of Port-au-Prince, Despinosse and his delegation delivered a $10,000 check to Haiti's Ministry of Education on behalf of another public school in Port-au-Prince.

It's good to know that all of this is taking place in South Florida (where I recently attended the 2007 Haitian Studies Association Conference) but it would be nice to see those efforts mingled with citizen media that might hold the government accountable for the money it receives for these efforts. Feedback about the current Préval government from all sectors (I've even heard this from some good Dominican friends) seems to be that there is an openness to his government. But who knows what happens to a check you hand one of his ministries? Can you really trust that it is going to go to the school it was intended? Not that it won't. And not that I want to add to all the politics that usually go hand in hand with so little as sneezing in Haiti. (The largely US-based Haitian Studies Association's main issue in organizing their conference there next year is not to "step into any political potholes" so as to maximize local academic attendance.)

So could we start thinking about implementing citizen-media-based monitoring of the government as a remedy against corruption? One good example is Mzalendo, a blog co-started by an American-educated Kenyan lawyer, Ory Okollow to "keep an eye on the Kenyan parliament". To quote Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman, it is 'a site increasing transparency of the Kenyan Parliament, for little more than $20 a month plus creativity and sweat. It’s evidence of “the power of ideas, the power of sharing knowledge.” '

You could say Kenya's blogosphere at this point is way past the embryonic stage of Haiti's whose evolution since I last surveyed it in 2006 is not clear. But corruption blogging and government monitoring by bloggers may be a needed tear dropped into the sea of what can and should be done to increase government transparency. Wouldn't we all sleep better at night if we knew for sure that that $10,000 check given to the Ministry of Education would actually go towards the school we sought to help? To make a long story short, Haiti needs many more Collectif Haiti de Provence who are doing as much monitoring as they can, mostly through commenting newstories, from .... France.

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