One of the poorest and least developed countries in the western hemisphere, it is prone to natural disasters – from drought and flooding to seasonal hurricanes and tropical storms. The complex humanitarian context remains fragile due to the persistence of cholera, the binational mixed migration crisis with the Dominican Republic and the impact of the 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon, which has aggravated the food security situation and further exposes the county to the risk of hurricanes and flooding. Recurrent droughts during the past three years and back-to-back emergencies make it difficult for many Haitians to rebound. An estimated 2.1 million people – of a population of 10.9 million – are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and 62 600 people are still displaced from the 2010 earthquake. FAO seeks to help Haitians to produce food, earn money and become more resilient to face the next disaster.
The impact of El Niño
Over two-thirds of Haitians depend on agriculture as their main source of food and income, therefore when a disaster strikes, it can wipe out a household’s means to make a living. The country is experiencing one of the worst droughts for the third consecutive year that has been aggravated by the 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon. This has severely hit agriculture production with an estimated 50 percent decline in cop production compared with the five-year average. Furthermore, due to prolonged drought conditions for three planting seasons, food and seed stocks were depleted as seeds were consumed. As a result, farmers were unable to plant and food availability is being sustained by higher imports, namely of rice and wheat, increasing prices and making it difficult for families to afford to purchase food.
According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, 38 communes in the country ‒ of 145 ‒ are in Phase 3 (Crisis) and 3.6 million people are food insecure, of which 1.5 million is severely food insecure (Emergency Food Security Assessment, December 2015) and including 600 000 people that base their livelihoods exclusively on agriculture.
Given limited harvests during the last cropping seasons and the lack of agriculture inputs, supporting households’ purchasing power and ensuring their ability to produce food are FAO’s main strategies to mitigate the effects of the drought.
Under the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan, FAO is appealing for USD 7.9 million to assist 175 000 people with planting material to enable families to resume agricultural production. More specifically, FAO will: (i) organize seed fairs and distribute quality seeds and agricultural inputs; (ii) provide training on nutrition and good agricultural practices to improve the resilience of farming families and rural communities to climate change and natural disasters; (iii) strengthen the operational capacity of seed multiplier groups to improve seed security; and (iv) build water tanks for micro-irrigation to improve water availability for both agriculture activities and pasture.