SWIVEL, clank, scoop, dump. On the outskirts of Desdunes, a town in Haiti’s fertile Artibonite valley, three enormous excavators sink claws into the banks of the muddy Duclos canal. Arching across it, their slender hydraulic arms uproot small trees and drag them through the clay-coloured water as they gouge out mud from the canal bed. They deposit the glistening sludge, mixed with tall grasses, on their side of the channel, forming a neat ridge. Bored-looking policemen lounge in the shade of palm trees, ostensibly to deter thieves from stealing the machines’ batteries. Blue-grey herons stand to attention; cows and horses graze. Ahead of the excavators, the canal is a mere incision through the fens. Behind lies the result of their work: the canal looks wide enough to accommodate a battleship. Naked boys dive in, seeking respite from the Caribbean sun.