Heifer providing animals, support to Haiti project families

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (June 18, 2010)—In the months since the January earthquake in Haiti, Heifer International staff—in country and headquarters—have been supporting ongoing recovery efforts and planning for the long-term work to help Haitians rebuild their lives through programs to restore agricultural livelihoods using Heifer’s values-based model.

Staff from Heifer Haiti’s offices in Les Cayes and Cap-Haitien is working with existing project families in the north and south and families have begun receiving inputs for backyard vegetable gardens and fast-producing animals such as goats, fish and poultry. Heifer is also working with current and past partner organizations to design community development plans to help it respond to constituency needs.

Immediately after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Heifer Haiti staff coordinated with local and international relief organizations to help deliver humanitarian aid, food and transportation to more than 2,000 injured and displaced people. Then in March, a headquarters survey team traveled to Haiti to meet with country program staff to assess the needs and opportunities to rebuild and expand Heifer’s program in Haiti.

Heifer staff also participated in discussions with like-minded organizations to leverage resources and increase efficiencies and to identify institutional and private funding sources to ensure long-term viability of the work and to expand it into new communities.

At the same time, Heifer donors and supporters generously provided more than $1 million to help fund the rehabilitation work that lays ahead in Haiti. Key to success is strengthening the Haiti program, which had been working with 16,000 families, through training and organizational support, and forming an emergency team to oversee implementation of the country’s long-term recovery plan.

Heifer has worked in Haiti since 1999, and at the time of the quake had offices in Cap-Haitien in the north and Las Cayes in the south. Projects followed Heifer’s holistic model, seeking to secure healthy, culturally appropriate foods, to improve family income and to strengthen grassroots organizations.

When the earthquake struck, training in sustainable farming, nutrition and aquaculture, as well as living gifts of livestock, seeds and trees were reaching a growing number of families through direct benefit and Heifer’s cornerstone Passing on the Gift.

Today, Heifer staff, working with partners in Haiti, has established a three-year plan to use donor funds to build the program back better and to create new opportunities for limited-resource farmers devastated by the earthquake.

The success of Heifer’s intervention will be measured by the institutional capacity to tend to the immediate needs of families affected by the disaster while maintaining Heifer’s model for sustainable community development.

As Haiti copes with an overwhelming presence of security forces, along with international aid and development organizations, Heifer is advancing its programmatic design through emerging partnerships with organizations that support sustainable food systems where the environmental, social and nutritional health of communities is as important as their economic profitability.

At present, project work continues in the southern and northern parts of the country coordinated through the offices in Les Cayes and in Cap-Haitien, and Heifer is working with current and past partner organizations to design community development plans to respond to constituency needs. By the end of June, Heifer Haiti expects to have aided 85 families in five partner organizations affected by the earthquake:

  • Association for the Development of Varreux II (ADEVA II): 25 families will receive 100 goats to reactivate the Passing on the Gift, which began with Heifer’s project 23-0413-02.
  • Associations of Farmers of Dilaire (GEDWA): 20 families will receive 20 heifers. The original project, 23-1404-99, was implemented in the Commune of Ouanaminthe, some 72 kilometers from Cap-Haitien near the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • Small Farmer Organization of Saut Mathurine (OPS): 20 families will receive 20 heifers. The grassroots organization is part of Heifer’s project 23-1405-02. The community of Saut Mathurine is on the edge of the Massif de la Hotte Mountains in the southern peninsula.
  • Association of Collective Hands of Roche-à-Bateau (APMCR): construction of four cisterns to aid in water collection and storage for 20 families.
  • Association of Citizens for the Development of Dupré (ACDD): improvement of four kilometers of rural roads in the community of Beaulieu to provide vehicle access to local markets. Construction is expected to take two months. Families from APMCR will also benefit from this improvement.

Through June 2011, Heifer will continue to implement the following projects in the northern and southern regions:

  • 23-1401-02 Ivwa Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Project
  • 23-1407-02 Small Ruminants and Seeds distribution in Nordely/Beaulieu
  • 23-1414-02 Sustainable agriculture and Literacy on the Southern Coast Phase II
  • 23-1416-60 Rehabilitation of agro-pastoralism at Saint-Jean du Sud

New partnerships will enable Heifer to expand its geographic coverage in Haiti’s Central Plateau. For this, Heifer is meeting with Partners in Health, Elevages Sans Frontieres, Tet Kole Haitian Small Farmers Movement, USAID and others, hoping to secure multi-year funding commitments.

These partnerships will provide for new projects through a three- to-five year umbrella program to promote sustainable community development grounded in locally driven, values-based planning and asset development and transfer through Passing on the Gift. The program’s scope will be reviewed in July, and if approved will serve as the framework for seeking and formalizing individual projects.