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Haiti was once a green country, but deforestation and intensive land use have destroyed much of the woodland, which now stands at an estimated 2% of the surface. The resulting erosion leads to a reduction in agricultural yields – which increases the vulnerability of the population to variations in imported foodstuff prices – and increases the risk of disaster linked to hurricanes, floods, landslides and earthquakes.
The country was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2010 and repeated hurricanes. In October 2016 the country was struck by Hurricane Matthew (Category 4 winds up to 230 km/h). Less than a year later, Hurricane Irma laid waste vast agricultural areas in the north and north-east of the country. As a result, August 2017 saw more than 2.35 million inhabitants severely affected by food insecurity.
Hampered by frequent natural disasters, Haiti's development is also fettered by a weak education system. According to official statistics, less than half of children entering Year 1 of primary school stay until Year 5. The vocational training offered by many private institutes and the state is not tailored to the needs of the formal and informal market. Those who leave with a qualification are therefore not integrated into the labour market, and a lack of resources means they cannot enter self-employment.
Building on the experience gained, Caritas Switzerland continues to work in the departments of Ouest, Artibonite, Sud and Nord.
En capitalisant sur les expériences acquises, Caritas Suisse poursuit son engagement dans les départements de l'Ouest, de l'Artibonite, du Sud et du Nord.
Food Security and Markets
Strengthening the resilience of rural households and agricultural production is crucial in Haiti. Interventions aimed at the equitable development of the agricultural sector take into account the social, environmental and economic situation of the country. The focal points are: i) stabilising and increasing agricultural production, ii) strengthening community organisations, iii) introducing integrated management of natural resources. Faced with sawtooth production rates and massive imports of agricultural commodities, stabilising and increasing agricultural production helps reduce national dependence on imports and improve the population's sovereignty and food security. As far as possible, aspects related to climate change mitigation and the water required for agricultural production are integrated into the sector. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in order to increase communities' income and access to renewable energy.
Education and Income
Access to quality primary education for disadvantaged children and improved administrative and educational management of schools are at the centre of projects in the education sector. Interventions in this sector are arranged along three thematic lines: i) access to education (pre-school education, primary education, vocational training and entrepreneurship), ii) improving the quality of learning and teaching as well as year repeat rates, iii) defending the right of the poorest to a quality education. Caritas Switzerland is also supporting the processes of making parents responsible for their children's schooling and establishing relations with state authorities and other civil society organisations in the education sector. In the realms of formal and non-formal vocational education, it is envisaged to extend interventions to new target groups.
Due to extreme weather events, emergency preparedness and humanitarian aid are central in Haiti. High food insecurity following a disaster can lead to hunger riots (especially in urban areas) and, in general, to problems of undernourishment and aggravated shortages and their consequences. In the event of a humanitarian crisis, Caritas Switzerland strives to realign its development projects as best it can. This is essential because, for example, economic shocks resulting from a natural disaster can also create an emergency situation that jeopardises access to education. In response to crises, the options are food distribution, food for work, the purchase of local food for canteens and, in education projects, the reinstatement and/or relocation of schools and distribution of school supply kits, as well as the awarding of scholarships.