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Meeting to prepare IFAD Response to the Crisis in Haiti

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Sunday, January 31, 2010

DAY 1 – 28 January

The workshop was opened by Ms Josefina Stubbs, Director of the Latin America and the Caribbean Division. Josefina Stubbs extends condolences of IFAD over earthquake in Haiti. She provided a comprehensive overview of the objectives and background to the workshop. PL Director highlighted the immediate response of IFAD to the crisis that focused on facilitating the resumption of agricultural activities as a means of restoring the livelihoods of thousands of communities that are dependent on agriculture. The main challenges for the workshop were to identify interventions and strategies for the long-term reconstruction of the agricultural sector. In order to achieve this will require an integrated and participatory approach. She welcomed the FAO residents for Haiti and Santo Domingo and other FAO staff as well as representatives from a national NGO from Haiti and IICA, a regional organization at the workshop. This is indeed not only a reflection of the importance of partnership as efforts are being channelled to start the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector.

Attendees were also invited to introduce themselves. The remainder of the day was comprised of formal presentations on the situation from each of the IFAD-funded projects, by representatives of FAO and non-government organizations.

COUNTRY OVERVIEW - Experience sharing and testimonies on impact on rural areas
Representatives of the IFAD-funded projects staff, along with NGOs, FAO and IFAD staff, reported on the progress to date with respect to the situation of the agricultural sector.

The disaster made a serious impact on agricultural related livelihoods, including both on-farm and off-farm activities. It destroyed not only physical facilities (i.e. agriculture tools and equipment, irrigation systems, houses and buildings), but also natural resource capacities.

Analysis of preliminary existing information on post-earthquake situation in rural areas based on first-hand information from IFAD-funded project staff in Haiti shows that:
i) The major impact of the earthquake for the agriculture sector is the massive migration of population from the capital city to the rural areas which magnitude is still to be confirmed. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates the number of people leaving cities for rural areas could reach more that 1 million. Migration is putting further pressure on rural households in terms of availability of food and access to basic services and socio-economic stability in areas already
grappling with meagre resources;
ii) Assessment of physical damages in the rural areas is still underway. However, it is confirmed that there has been some damage to irrigation systems, productive infrastructure, roads, including main routes to agricultural markets, particularly in the Western regions (Leogane, Grand Goave, and Petit Goave, Nippes in a 100 km radius).
On mid-day, the Minister of Agriculture of Haiti visited the workshop venue to address workshop participants. The Minister confirmed the assessment made by IFAD-funded projects staff and informed that a programme has been worked out by the Government for 600 million US$ over 18 months for agricultural development.
The Minister requested the three ongoing IFAD projects to maintain all activities approved in their AWPB 2009-2010 which are still relevant trying to speed up their implementation to meet their ambitious annual targets. In addition, the Minister welcomed additional resources to
address the immediate needs in the rural areas most affected by the earthquake outside IFAD-funded projects areas. Finally, the Minister invited IFAD and FAO to reactivate the seed distribution programme which was implemented in the aftermath of the food prices crisis.

The mission has also found out that a multi Donor Need Assessment Exercise is under preparation with the aim of presenting a detailed report at the next world conference on Haiti to be held in New York in March. The IFAD participation in this exercise will be discussed in a series of bilateral meetings with donor agencies (World Bank, IADB, AECI, FAO) next week.

In summary, the impact of the earthquake has been exacerbated by the huge migration to rural areas, increasing demand for food and agricultural production and concerns about food security.
Before leaving a grant financing agreement of US 5.6 miilion with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Day 2 – 29 January

On the 2nd Day of the Workshop, the participants discussed needs to support rural communities by:

- Reviewing and analyzing the current approved AWPB for 2010:
- Mapping the existing needs assessment information and identified information gaps;
- Identifying the main factors and trends that could impact the implementation of annual work plans;
- Identifying priorities areas and overall objectives for the 2010 short term and long term strategies;
- Started the development of response plans for each project and FAO.

In conclusion, the food security needs of earthquake-affected rural areas households will require, according to participants and based on previous experience, an immediate combination of food assistance, rapid agricultural input supplies (seeds, fertiliser, tools, poultry and small ruminants etc.) and a rehabilitation of production infrastructure, such as on-farm irrigation, storage facilities.

Workshop participants suggested that IFAD response should focus th e following:
Rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation systems in time for the March 2010 planting season and the re-establishment of agricultural markets to ensure the short and long term goal for food security.
· Research, development and information sharing - documentation and data collection of the impact on and recovery of affected agriculture areas and ecosystems.
· Development of income generating activities, micro-credit schemes and community empowerment with a focus on agricultural livelihood activities.
· Distribution of seed and planting materials; crop diversification that includes or incorporates cash cropping options; livestock; and improved agricultural practices.