Haiti’s Northwest region is resource-poor, sparsely populated, and possessed of minimal infrastructure and services. The Haitian-American Community Help Organization (HACHO; in 1979 the name was changed to Harmonisation d’Action des Communautes Haitiennes Organisées) was established in 1966 through a grant to CARE to undertake health services provision and community development in the region. For 13 of its 16 years, HACHO received Agency for International Development (AID) funding for a total of $5.1 million, in addition to substantial quantities of PL480 commodities. It also received $1.5 million from the West German Government.
The focus of HACHO1s activities changed substantially during the project’s lifetime. HACHO began by providing health services in one small town but soon expanded both geographically, to reach other parts of the Northwest, and sectorally, by moving into community organization and road construction, and later into agricultural extension, irrigation, potable water, and handicrafts. The lack of a government presence in the region and the extreme paucity of basic services and infrastructure meant that HACHO, as one of the few organizations operating in the Northwest at the time, became the focal point for local residents seeking help and for donors looking for a vehicle to provide assistance. In short, HACHO became a kind of quasi-government for the Northwest, funded by outside donors with technical assistance provided by CARE