LWR began working in Haiti in 1997 to advance rural development, increase food security and gender equality, protect natural resources and strengthen partners’ organizational capacity. After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, LWR provided material resources and support to restore lost livelihoods, while also working to strengthen rural communities taking in those displaced by the disaster. Currently, LWR programs increase small-holder farmers’ participation in value chains; improve food security; and promote reforestation in northern Haiti.
Value Chains and Food Security
Smallholder farmers’ participation in agricultural value chains is vital to their income generation and food security. In Haiti, farmers’ cooperatives are essential for helping smallholder farmers access key inputs — like seeds, tools, fertilizer — and successfully participate in value chains. LWR works with cooperatives, and federations of cooperatives, to improve productivity, quality, and post-harvest processing and storage of crops such as cocoa and coffee. These efforts provide opportunities for organic and Fair Trade certifications that can help improve farmers’ income.
LWR also works to strengthen business models of cooperatives and federations, linking them to external stakeholders, to make them more competitive on national and international markets. LWR’s support can include training on improving financial management, internal controls and democratic governance. LWR works to foster women’s and young people’s leadership in these organizations. Since 2010, LWR has strengthened the organizational capacity of 15 peasant organizations, representing more than 70,000 people, producing a variety of crops. As a result, these organizations are improving agricultural production, better managing natural resources and facilitating access to credit and higher earnings for their members.
LWR complements its focus on agricultural value chains with efforts to strengthen local food systems, providing rural families with sustained access to healthy foods. These efforts, combined with hygiene, sanitation and nutritional promotion geared to small-holder farmers and their families have helped improve the food security of more than 8,000 families in nearly 400 communities in central and northern Haiti.
Climate Smart Agriculture and Disaster Risk Reduction
Ensuring stable and resilient agricultural production and ecologically sound natural resource management are critical to mitigating and adapting to the effects of changing climates. In Haiti, LWR works to improve forest cover through expanding agroforestry systems and supporting reforestation efforts that provide long term economic incentives. LWR promotes climate smart agriculture practices to ensure that landscapes remain healthy and protected by agricultural efforts and to improve resilience to natural disasters. LWR is working with farmers to improve the quality of their land with training in soil and water conservation, soil improvement, and use of organic matter. These efforts are complemented by irrigation management and by investments to strengthen local ecosystems through reforestation, river-bank rehabilitation and land protection by planting hedges and fruit seedlings. LWR supports public awareness and education campaigns, involving radio programs, training schoolchildren and ecological awareness days, to promote improved natural resource management.
Material Resource Distribution and Rehabilitation of Livelihoods
In times of natural disaster, responses must meet peoples’ immediate needs while also building greater resilience and long term stability. LWR works with community leaders and organizations to design emergency responses that meet local needs, and follow international standards. In recent years, LWR has worked with local partners to respond to hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike as well as tropical storm Isaac and to the 2010 cholera outbreak. Responses have included installation of water filters and latrines, distribution of sanitation supplies, and community education on water, sanitation and hygiene. In response to the 2010 earthquake, LWR reached more than half a million people through emergency response efforts. LWR distributed material resources valued at $1.7 million, including over 96,000 personal care kits, more than 26,000 handmade quilts, over 55,000 school kits and 1,500 baby care kits benefitting 144,306 Haitians.
LWR has contributed to rebuilding livelihoods in earthquake-affected areas directly around Port au Prince, as well as in areas to the north in the Plateau Central where many displaced families migrated immediately following the disaster. LWR has supported artisans to improve the quality and efficiency of their operations and collectively access export markets, as well as to develop collective ways to access basic services such as health care and education. And LWR has supported resettlement efforts by providing established and recent residents of resettled areas with job skills training, tools and access to capital, particularly for women, to develop micro-enterprises and promote economic growth.