Heifer International sending assessment team to Haiti

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Heifer International is sending three staff to Haiti to begin to work with in-country teams to help determine the global hunger-fighting organization’s short-, mid- and long-term rehabilitation and recovery strategies in the aftermath of the January earthquake.

Edwin Rocha and Jesus Pizarro, director of programs and director of finance and administration for Heifer’s Americas program, will leave for Haiti March 16, along with Stephen Northcutt, from Information Technology, returning to Little Rock on March 24.

There, the team will meet with country staff and with project participant families to assess damages and needs, and to begin to map plans for short-range rehabilitation. The team plans to meet with other organizations as well, to begin to plan for medium- to long-term rehabilitation programs and projects.

These will likely be small, grassroots organizations that are already working in Haiti, much as Heifer was before the quake.

Northcutt will be exploring technology solutions to improve and ensure communications between the offices in Cap-Haitien and in Les Cayes, and with the international headquarters in Little Rock.

Heifer International has worked in Haiti for more than 10 years. On Jan. 12, 2010, when the magnitude 7 earthquake struck, the Haiti program was reorganizing and had six Haitian employees in two offices, in Les Cayes and Cap-Haitien. Supported by international staff in Little Rock, Haiti team members were working with more than 16,000 families and several farmer associations in 16 project programs.

Heifer projects in Haiti, which are scattered around the country with some as close as 12 miles outside Port-au Prince, include community organization and training in sustainable farming, crop diversity, nutrition, aquaculture and fish production, and gifts of livestock, seeds, trees and grains.

This trip to Haiti by international staff begins what is anticipated to be a years-long effort to help the existing 16,000 program project families rehabilitate and rebuild and to scale up Heifer’s program to aid even more families.

Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 50 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.

For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.