Many countries throughout the world are stuggling with drought and food insecurity related to El Nino. According to FEWS-NET agricultural production in Haiti is fifty percent below normal and coping mechanisms are being exhausted. Associated Press reporter David McFadden's describes the impact that food insecurity is having on parts of the Haitian countryside. The full article follows.
The Haitian Government and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS-NET) report that a drought is causing food insecurity in northeast Haiti due to the loss of crops and livestock. The National Coordination of Food Security Office and the World Food Program (WFP) are planning a response which will involve seed distribution to farmers and food distribution more broadly. Below is a Miami Herald article with more information.
Below is an announcement by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) concerning a $9 million grant to promote sustainable land management at Macaya National Park. The park holds one of the country's largest remaining forests and is of historical importance having a fort built by Jean Jacques Dessalines in 1804. For more background about Macaya, take a look at this Forbes Article published in March 2013.
Below is an announcement concerning the launch of a five year project, as part of USAID's Feed the Future Initiative, to bolster agriculture in northern Haiti. In addition to nuts and bolts such as preventing erosion and promoting irrigation, the project will also expand the access of farmers to new(er) technologies such as mobile money. The $87.8 million project will be led by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) with Haitian firms Agridey and AgroConsult sub-contracting.
Below is a brief article from the Economist on the relationship between food security and food imports. Both aid and trade policies have long subverted domestic agriculture in Haiti. President Martelly has set a target of meeting 60% of Haiti's food needs through domestic production within three years. This is a tough row to hoe as it requires better resource management, irrigation, reforestation, and natural disaster preparedness. Food security isn't just about rice though. Greater production of yams, sorghum, manioc, sweet potatos, and corn would help.
Lee Rainboth recently wrote a blog about a Travel Channel series called Dangerous Grounds, an episode of which was shot in Haiti. Due to the cultural insensitivity of the crew, the episode suggests Haitians are dangerous and unpredictable. In reality, Carmichael is just another fly-by-night visitor who didn't take the time to understand Haitian culture. In reality, Haitians are remarkably hospitable and go out of their way to help strangers. That having been said, Haitian coffee is excellent and well worth seeking out.
Like Haitians themselves, coffee has African roots. Throughout much of its colonial and post-colonial history, coffee was a major export and source of livelihoods. However, mismanagement, deforestation, natural disasters, political instability, and embargos have resulted in a dramatic decrease Haitian coffee exports. Yet, Haitian coffee is good - unusually good. Can Haiti revive and expand its coffee industry? Just Haiti and Singing Rooster are two organizations that believe it can. Buying from either of these organizations is a great way to support both your coffee habit and Haitian farmers.
CHIBAS is a bio-fuels and sustainable agriculture research center in Haiti with a particular interest in promoting the cultivation of Jatropha, a plant already used in Vodoun ceremonies and as a natural fence to protect crops. According to CHIBAS, Jatropha has the potential to advance food and energy security in Haiti while building rural economies. Below is a summary of the newest CHIBA piece on Jatropha's potential in Haiti. You can also find the complete paper (with graphics) on the CHIBAS website.
This week marked six months since the earthquake. According to President Preval, it also marked the week that the emergency phase ended and reconstruction began. Yet at the same time residents of the Corrail Cesselesse camp were struggling with the consequences of a rain storm that destroyed up to 300 tents and caused 1,700 to seek emergency shelter. With the rainy season underway, the situation is precarious for the displaced. Security, especially for women and children, is still a major concern. Is this an emergency operation, a reconstruction effort, or both?
When people think of Haiti, they often think of hunger, and not without reason. Though there has been significant progress over the past year, hunger remains a pervasive problem. Achieving food security is fundamental to nutrition, health, education, economic growth, stability and all the other issues we lump under “development.” There are well intentioned groups, such as this one from Kansas, that often try to send packages of food to Haiti. It might make one feel good, but in reality, it does little good. There is much that we can do to promote food security in Haiti, but it is up to us to ensure that our time, energy, and resources make an actual, and not just a perceived, difference.