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NEW YORK, N.Y. (Sept. 21, 2011) – Heifer International has committed to help rebuild rural communities and to improve economic opportunities through livestock inputs and management in Haiti as part of the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. Founded by former President Bill Clinton in 2005, CGI brings world leaders from a variety of backgrounds together to create partnerships that provide innovative and measurable solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.
Heifer International's commitment, announced from the stage Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, by Heifer President and CEO Pierre Ferrari, will target 20,250 vulnerable rural households. The project will increase rural incomes by using Heifer's proven approach to sustainable development, combining livestock and crop inputs for integrated farming, improved husbandry techniques, business training, community-building and enhanced social capital.
Specifically, REACH — Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti — will develop 150 breeding centers and provide training for 120 community health workers who, in turn, will train an average of 200 farmers each. Heifer International hopes the enterprise will serve as a model for the state to consider for replication, key to igniting the kind of transformation Haiti needs to become self-sustaining. Three hundred full-time jobs will be created and more than 83,000 will benefit indirectly.
"This commitment meets all three topic areas for this year's CGI program — jobs, sustainable consumption and empowering girls and women," said Ferrari. "But more interesting is that these are already key components of Heifer's holistic community development model."
As with all Heifer projects, there will be an emphasis on working with and helping women, principal caretakers and vendors of agriculture and livestock. The project will also strengthen environmental stewardship and risk management, training people how to better mitigate, respond to and recover from natural disasters such as the earthquake that rocked the island nation in January 2010.
"In every Heifer project, we partner with local organizations to help families, or co-ops that families have created themselves, to move families from being food insecure to producing enough food for themselves and to sell for extra income to pay for school fees, health care, better housing," said Ferrari. "We do this by connecting them to markets, and in every project we engage the women who grow most of the world's food, but have little to no say in agricultural development."
Under Heifer International's five-year, $18.7-million commitment, Heifer Haiti will work with farming families, aid organizations, producers' groups, municipalities, ministries and others to rehabilitate and strengthen the crop- and livestock-based livelihoods of 20,250 farming households in Haiti's Northwest, Northeast, Nippes, Grand Anse, Central Plateau and Southeast departments.
REACH will build up four livestock subsectors (goats, cattle, poultry and pigs), using integrated farming to improve production and strengthen linkages with buyers and others, such as input suppliers, processors and transporters. Heifer will select the most successful farmers from its training program and provide them with additional support to start up 150 family-run centers to provide breeding services and an increased supply of quality animals in strategic regions.
A key element of the project will be to develop farmers' ability to view their livestock production as a business, which, with proper husbandry and management, can become a sustainable source of income.
REACH projects the breeding centers will create 300 full-time jobs, and Heifer estimates incomes of project farmers and breeding center owners will increase between 100 percent and 220 percent over the current $50 per month average. REACH will revitalize rural areas by providing economic opportunities so farmers won't have to migrate to urban centers. The plan will particularly target youth, who are increasingly leaving rural areas for work, leading to an "aging" countryside.
"Rather than simply distribute livestock, Heifer trains agricultural entrepreneurs who will invest in their own community capacity building and develop related business opportunities that have far-reaching potential," said Ferrari. And Heifer's Cornerstone, Passing on the Gift, where a family agrees to pass on the first-born female offspring of their animal to another family, will quickly scale the project up in size, benefit and impact.
Scaling up is a key component of the REACH program, and Heifer's program has been proven effective all over the globe. Last year, evaluators from Western Michigan University stated, "It is beyond doubt that in all 20 of the countries we have examined, Heifer has brought large overall benefits to very large numbers of low-income rural families."
"As President Bill Clinton has noted, 'Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The challenge of the 21st century is to find what works and scale it up,' " said Ferrari. "Heifer's work honors the family/community model and we are now on a path to scale them up rapidly against poverty of the worst kind.
"This will further demonstrate how a holistic approach using livestock and training as the inputs, and creating market access and opportunity as the outputs, is a viable and powerful solution to many of the problems faced by the people of Haiti."
Livestock constitutes 30 percent of Haiti's agricultural production and 26 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Heifer's commitment will train farmers to better manage their livestock and to integrate them into a true farming system that provides protein, draft power and fertilizer to improve diet and nutrition and agricultural productivity.
About Heifer International
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 (800) 696-1918.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place Sept. 20-22 in New York City.
This year, CGI also convened CGI America, a meeting focused on developing ideas for driving economic growth in the United States. The CGI community also includes CGI U, which hosts an annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making. For more information, visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.