Food Security & Agricultural Project in Haiti

I am already in my 4th month here in Haiti. Time has gone very fast!
In the beginning of the mission I participated in a training of HEA (Household Economy Approach) thanks to the collaboration of Fewsnet, USAid, CNSA (Centre National de Securite Alimentaire), Intermon Oxfam and GVC. The Household Economy Approach is an analysis of how people in different circumstances get the food and cash they need, of their assets, the opportunities open to them and the constraints they face, and of the options open to them at times of crisis. It involves the analysis of the connections between different groups and between different areas, providing a picture of how assets are distributed within a community and who gets what from whom.

After the training I went on the field and I was involved in the national study of HEA, in the area of Plateau Central, working in 8 communities with a local team during 2 weeks. It was really interesting and intense! We worked long hours ( around 12-14 h everyday) : 3-4 h to go to the field (the communities are very isolated), and the same number for coming back and around 4-6 hours to do the surveys. Even I managed to do the 4 hours interview in creole to the peasants, they just laughed a lot!

After that I have participated in the Food Security and Agriculture project of ECHO. We spent so much time for doing the identification and selection of beneficiaries and areas, because it was very important for the project to reach the poorest and most needed people. We did that based on some requirements. In the case of agriculture, people must have less than 1 ha of land, no irrigation systems, etc . In the case of the nutrition, it was addressed for women head of family who had at least one child under 5 years old. This is the limit of age due to the rule of the “1000 days”: Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of children’s lives can have irreversible consequences. So, we also did the measure of the arm circumference to identify possible malnourished children. In the first day on the field, we saw a malnourished child who was sent directly to the hospital.


Measuring arm circumference

Nowadays, we are running some of the activities of the project: conservation of soil, green houses building, selection of seeds adapted to drought…(in the agricultural sector) and promotion and training about healthy food and promotion of hygiene ( in the nutrition sector). We’ve selected some women who have done the training and who will multiply the action training the beneficiaries.

My work is being doing mainly on the field, so I am so happy with that because I am learning a lot. I am working mostly with a local team, and we’ve got a really good relationship. All this has let me learnt a little bit of Haitian Creole, so I can understand much more than I expected in the beginning and I can communicate and “survive” in most of the situations.

Not everything is being as easy as it seems but it is important just to learn how to transform the most difficult or negative situations into learning, that I think is one of the most relevant sides of working in this field.

Cristina Arquero

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