Designed as a project to revive agricultural activities following the passage of Hurricane Matthew in September 2016, the Climate Adaptation and Economic Development of Haiti’s Agricultural Sectors (AVETI) project has adapted rapidly to mitigate health risks and socio-economic issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These activities support rural families and departmental authorities of Grand’Anse in carrying out the spring 2020 agricultural campaign and in the fight against COVID-19.
Launched in the department of Grand’Anse in March 2019, the AVETI project focuses on the cocoa and yam sectors, of historical importance in the region, to increase the economic well-being and reduce the vulnerability of the population, especially women and young people living in rural environments.
The project’s first activities supported 1,000 yam and cocoa producers in starting their spring farming season, enabling them to plant 300,000 fragments of yam tubers on more than 60 hectares of yam, lima bean and okra to reinforce the food security of their families during the socio-political crisis that the country is going through.
At the same time, the appearance of the first cases of COVID-19 in Haiti called for the project to implement complementary activities aimed at supporting the departmental authorities of health, women’s condition and rights, and civil protection in the implementation of their virus prevention plan.
By targeting 3,500 families, comprised of some 17,500 individuals including 60% of women living primarily in four communes of the Grand’Anse department (Abricots, Chambellan, Moron and Beaumont), the AVETI project also provides for the rehabilitation of more than 1,500 hectares of cocoa and yam agroforestry plots.
Following the appearance of COVID-19 on the Haitian territory, the AVETI project deemed it necessary to make its contribution to the fight against this devastating virus. Its implementation was therefore adapted to the new context of the pandemic, with activities to raise awareness of the disease and prevention measures being carried out with partners, authorities, organizations and families. Information sessions were also organized to discuss the possibilities available for the population to cope with the loss of income caused by the preventive measures linked to COVID-19, and to curb their food insecurity.
This COVID-19 awareness campaign, which took place during the months of May and June 2020, reached more than 4,000 families and over 1,000 vulnerable women from the four municipalities participating in the project, facilitating their access to information and protective equipment (face mask, faucet seal and materials for hand washing, etc.). The practical training activities in farming planned as part of the project were also an opportunity to sensitize farmers to the risks associated with the coronavirus. An additional support in the form of seeds for short-cycle crops (lima beans, okra, spinach, parsley) was also offered to 1,500 farmers in an effort to limit the negative economic consequences of COVID-19.
Furthermore, awareness-building sessions on health issues were carried out by 40 promoters across 10 different municipalities, directly sensitizing 600 women participants who in turn will be able to transmit the information within their homes, limiting the risks of transmission of the virus, as explained by Tamas Sauvagna Enock, responsible for gender equality in the AVETI project.
Over the coming months, the AVETI project will continue to provide specific support to those most at risk in times of pandemic, an essential adjustment for this project whose ultimate objective is to improve the economic well-being and reduce the vulnerability of the rural populations of Grand’Anse, in particular women and young people. Claude Phanord, the project lead, is satisfied with this start-up phase in an exceptional context and welcomes the collaboration of all the project partners, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and the Departmental Direction of Agriculture of Grande Anse, the Departmental Directions of Public Health and Population, the Departmental Coordination of Civil Protection, cooperatives, and producers’ organizations.
The AVETI project is implemented by the Alliance agricole internationale (CECI, SOCODEVI and UPA DI) and Développement international Desjardins. It receives funding from the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada.