Haitian organizations leveraging the power of procreation to create better lives
Who knew a simple goat could give so much. In Haiti, they are a prime source for savings, for risk management (after all, farmer’s insurance is essentially non-existent in the Haitian countryside), and, perhaps most importantly in country where most people live on less than US$5 per day, a source of income.
On his recent mission to the Haitian countryside, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, took a morning journey along the jostling roads of the nation’s Central Plateau to visit with the women and young people living in the area. Along the way, Nwanze, and the rest of the IFAD mission – the Director of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division Josefina Stubbs was riding shotgun for the journey – found that the goats of Haiti (not to mention the oxen and pigs) are yielding rich dividends that extend well beyond personal wealth.
The Women’s Association of Laskawobas Bwapen is just one of the many goat-herders collectives that are receiving IFAD funding in the region. Rather than simply give goats to the women of the region, the program is working with a pyramid-style model that allows for exponential growth.
The project started with 45 participants in October of 2009. Each participant was given a goat. When these goats produced their offspring one baby goat went back to the collective to be given to a new family, the other offspring stayed with the project participants to be sold for a profit. The project now has around 60 participants. It’s not AMWAY, but it’s pretty good.
“Before the project the women in this community had no income-generating activities,” said Modeline Joseph, Coordinator of the Laskawobas Women’s Association. “But now we have new income coming in.”
The project has had a unique push-on effect as well, with recently arrived refugees who had moved to the countryside to escape the chaos in Port-au-Prince now receiving literacy training. The literacy coordinator for the Women’s Association said that at least five newly arrived refugees were now in her class.
And the IFAD funding is also benefiting several young people’s organizations. One such IFAD-supported group, the Association of Young Farmers, decided to buy oxen that would allow them to plow their fields more efficiently. They are now hiring out their oxen. Not only has this increased crop yields for these young farmers, but it has also provided new diversified assets in their portfolio.
“The project allowed us to have income to survive and send our children to school,” said one of the young farmers in the association, Wesner La Paix. “Before the project, we were jobless, and life was difficult. We were obliged to immigrate to the Dominican Republic to work in the farms under very difficult conditions.”
With these new opportunities, project personnel are reporting a decrease in immigration to the neighboring Dominican Republic. A good sign for a region that has long depended on its neighbor for food imports as well as low-paying back-breaking seasonal jobs.
“Development in this nation needs to begin in the countryside,” said President Nwanze during his meeting with the young producers and women’s associations. “Perhaps most importantly, Haiti needs to invest in its young farmers. These will be the people that feed Haiti 20 years from now.”
By Greg Benchwick and David Paqui