Success Mapping

Success Mapping: searching for Haiti's strengths

Haiti is often categorized by adjectives such as “the poorest”, or “the most vulnerable”, or “the most dependent”. While Haiti is indeed a country with a series of complex and seemingly intractable problems,
there is a danger to this single negative narrative. It obscures Haitian resilience and innovation, and creates a seemingly default preference for outside solutions. Many Haitians now have internalized this narrative, and value foreign expertise over local experience. There is always a role for inspiration and exchange between countries and cultures, but there is also a role for local innovation. With widely-respected development practices such as Asset-Based Community Development and Positive Deviance, it has been demonstrated that local solutions can be more efficient and effective when brought to scale. And also in accordance with the general principle behind positive deviance theory, if dependency on foreign aid and outside assistance is the new norm in Haiti, then there will certainly be some positive deviant communities that are in control of their own development.

It is with this set of views that in 2012, Future Generations Haiti (FGH) created a “Success mapping Initiative” in partnership with UNCVR, in which a set of 10 field researchers set out to identify strong Haitian communities that were successfully driving their own development. These agents used snowball sampling to identify successful and sustainable community initiatives using criteria based on SEED-SCALE. (SEED-SCALE is both a process for practicing community development and an analytic framework for assessing community-driven change. SEED-SCALE originated from a worldwide study of successes in equitable and sustainable community change conducted in the early 1990s by Future Generations, UNICEF, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins University. The study tackled the questions of what has worked in the field of community development, specifically on how to take community-based successes to regional scale and sustain their momentum.)

The initiative was dubbed Wozo Ayiti (which means “the reeds of Haiti” after a Haitian peasants’ song that celebrated Haitians as being like reeds that bend in the wind but never break). These communities are
then mapped and put on an online interactive mapping platform at In the first 6 months of research, 60 communities were identified and mapped, and 24 of them met in a series of regional and national conferences. It was during these conferences that our team observed a strong demand for more community-community interaction, for peer exchanges in which these communities could teach each other about their stories, their strategies, and their innovations for creating sustainable change. The mapping is ongoing process, and the FGH team is always open to new information about innovative and empowered communities that are driving their own development. If you know of a community that fits this description, e-mail