The Hand-in-Hand initiative in Haiti

Q&A with José Luis Fernandez, FAO Representative in Haiti

FAO has started adopting the Hand-in-Hand approach to step up efforts to end hunger and poverty in Haiti. Could you tell us about this process?

FAO has started adopting the Hand-in-Hand approach to step up efforts to end hunger and poverty in Haiti. Could you tell us about this process?

Although some progress has been made in terms of improving agricultural production, and management of natural resources, Haiti is still considered a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) facing natural disasters (cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts), a severe food security crisis along with a population growth rate higher than its GDP. FAO in Haiti is committed to work closely with the Government, the private sector, the civil society, and the donors’ community to better target the poorest and most vulnerable communities through the integrated approach and the framework actions provided by the Hand-in-Hand Initiative.

The close collaboration between FAO’s Headquarter, Regional and Sub-regional Offices will ensure having the needed expertise to implement the Hand-in-Hand initiative in Haiti. In addition, FAO has the possibility to link national development initiatives to regional and global policies by fostering a dialogue between the relevant stakeholders. To achieve Hand-in-Hand’s goals in the country, FAO Haiti has implemented several actions (response to emergency and non-emergency interventions) including the following:

Fostering partnerships and mutual collaborations:

  • Briefed the Prime Minister, and Ministers of Agriculture and Environment on the initiative. The Government of Haiti has sent a letter to the Director General to express its interest to join Hand-in-Hand.
  • Contacted partners who share the initiative’s holistic approach, which provides a framework of actions that favors local food production and promotes consumption of local food through promotion of short-, medium- and long-term investments in the food systems. Spain, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, Dominican Republic, EU and Mexico have demonstrated interests in this regard.
  • In coordination with the Spanish Cooperation (AECID), FAO identified partners interested in creating a collaborative Alliance for the Promotion of Food and Nutrition Security (PROSAN) in Haiti. FAO Haiti set up an initial network that includes three NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture, with an initial portfolio of projects of approximately $1.5 million.

Integrated development initiatives:

Developed the “Integrated Development Initiatives for Haiti” project – a project part of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) - to support the implementation of Hand-in-Hand in Haiti. This project was elaborated in close cooperation with the FAO Hand-in-Hand Task Force.

Humanitarian response program (Scale Up) to address food insecurity and the COVID-19: 

  • Preparation of an Emergency Response Program (Component of the revised HRP 2020) targeting 1.2 million people (240 000 households) with an estimated budget of $93 Million. $76 million planned before COVID-19, additional $17 million for the mitigation of COVID-19 impact.
  • Food Insecurity (NON COVID-19 interventions): (i) Improving food access and availability and protecting the livelihoods of 108 000 vulnerable households; (ii) Diversification of food and income sources to prevent deterioration of food and nutrition security for 132 000 vulnerable households; (iii) Support to decentralized state structures and community-based organizations, including: 
    • Agricultural inputs (seeds, planting material and agricultural tools) to 27 000 households. Three thousand households of them will also receive cash assistance.
    • Animals health support and enabling rearing of small livestock for 3 500 vulnerable households.
    • Cash for work assistance for 800 households.
    • Unconditional and unrestricted monetary transfer to 800 households before the onset of expected damages during the cyclone season.
  • COVID-19 interventions: (iv) mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 on vulnerable households’ incomes and support productive safety nets; support the government in assessing the impact of the CODIV-19 on livelihoods and food. Distribution of 13 000 hygiene kits (masks chlorine and soap)
    • Data collection and analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on agriculture and food security through market assessments, resilience index measurement assessment, and/or other assessment tools with FAO's Investment Centre division and the World Bank.
    • Awareness raising on preventing COVID-19’s spread and sexual exploitation and abuse, and on ensuring accountability to affected populations.

FAO has so far mobilized $4.3 million from donors and internal resources to carry out these activities. We expect an additional $8.5 million, following discussions with other donors. 

How is the Hand-in-Hand Initiative different from previous initiatives and approaches?

How is the Hand-in-Hand Initiative different from previous initiatives and approaches?

Hand-in-Hand is a country-owned approach that connects economic, social, and environmental dimensions. The approach combines economic, statistical, spatial, and analytical tools and data to target and foster development-oriented investments.

This is a new approach that will facilitate the harmonization of activities at country level using all FAO knowledge and expertise to make development actions more responsive to the real needs of the populations.

What has been your experience, and what have been some of the key takeaways for FAO in Haiti so far from this process?

What has been your experience, and what have been some of the key takeaways for FAO in Haiti so far from this process?

The initiative is at an initial phase in Haiti. It is early to draw full conclusions, but what we do know is that we need to show solid results to get everyone full on board, including the government.

What is the next step?

What is the next step?

We aim to set up the PROSAN Alliance and start rolling out the TCP project “Integrated Development Initiatives for Haiti” in July 2020.

FAO is ready to support other actors in the elaboration of projects and proposals that are feasible and responsive to the real needs of the populations.

The next steps will focus on measuring the impacts, systematizing the learnings, and replicating the experience in other areas of the country.

How do you see the Hand-in-Hand approach evolving, and playing out in Haiti in the long run?

How do you see the Hand-in-Hand approach evolving, and playing out in Haiti in the long run?

FAO Haiti aims to have a more global approach and broaden its geographical focus to pursue more effective actions and address the complex problems of extreme poverty and food insecurity in the country. In the medium/long-term, the initiative can contribute to an integrated approach to achieve greater cooperation and partnership among stakeholders. FAO Haiti can play a crucial and central role in this process given its capacity to provide the necessary technical support.

Any recommendations to other FAO member countries - especially to those with a similar context - already applying or envisaged to apply the Hand-in-Hand model?

Any recommendations to other FAO member countries - especially to those with a similar context - already applying or envisaged to apply the Hand-in-Hand model?

The ability to generate positive impact in relation to the problems that need to be addressed should be demonstrated. It is very important to listen carefully to the actors who produce, influence or are affected by development actions. The listening process allows to define projects and proposals that are feasible and responsive to the real needs of the populations.

Is there anything else you might like to add?

Is there anything else you might like to add?

It is important that programs and projects reflect the priorities of the country, respond to the market forces and, are in line with the national policies, enforce rules and regulations and maintain the use of approaches, institutions and infrastructures established by the programs/projects. As we know, funding and building infrastructures are not enough to ensure sustainability. The ownership, full engagement and commitment of the Government is also essential.

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