Challenging Conditions Persist but Positive Progress for Rural Farmers
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Jan. 12, 2015) – Five years after a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, Heifer International says its farmers on the impoverished island are benefitting from a new approach to development work that focuses on sustainable economic development.
While Heifer’s work in Haiti is remains focused on improving the lives of smallholder farmers, particularly in rural communities, the earthquake caused a shift in the organization’s work, said Hervil Cherubin, country director for Heifer International Haiti.
“With the new approach we work much closely in partnership with the Haitian government, other international NGOs, local grassroots organizations in order to actively participate in the reconstruction of the country,” Cherubin said.
Following the quake, Heifer Haiti conducted a thorough evaluation that provided strategic guidelines and shifted the focus away from providing resources to individuals to more structural approach.
Under Heifer’s Rural Entrepreneur for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti (REACH) program, farmers are realizing the value of farming as a profession and career.
“Because of the valuable training provided they are more successful as farmers and no longer consider agriculture as a social activity, Cherubin said. “The farmers recognize they are the real actors of their own development and that Heifer’s role is secondary and that we are there to support them.”
Heifer is working with more than 2,200 families in the REACH program.Although much progress has been made, Cherubin said challenges remain for the rural communities where Heifer works. The country is still at a fragile state both politically and socially putting stress on development work that is being done. To address this, Heifer is working alongside beneficiaries for a longer time than in many other projects to ensure they will be able to thrive amid the political instability.