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Resource June 17, 2016

Meet the Journalists: Jacob Kushner and Allison Shelley


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How the residents of Canaan navigate land rights, urban planning, and governance—on their own.

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Multiple Authors
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Augustin Mona stands in the Canaan settlement, just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with some of the 126 families that have been together since they met in a tent camp called Mozayik after the 2010 quake. After being evicted from Mozayik in 2012, they bought title to this property. Image by Allison Shelley. Haiti, 2016.

Writer Jacob Kushner and documentary photographer Allison Shelley traveled to Haiti for their project "Canaan: Haiti's Promised Land."

In the six years since Haiti's major earthquake, the world has been focused on building a quake-resistant, investor-friendly Port-au-Prince. But ten miles north of downtown, over 200,000 of the displaced are creating their own solution, with virtually no government or NGO support. Residents are transforming this scrub-covered range of hills with no water, electricity, roads or other city services—biblically named Canaan—into what will soon be Haiti's third-largest urban center, erecting their own electrical poles, making cinder blocks and trucking in water.

What can a group of impoverished, displaced people—who for six years have been regarded as helpless victims—teach the global aid industry about urbanism in the 21st Century? Is Canaan a promised land or another disaster in the making?


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Land Rights

Land Rights