Haiti is experiencing an unprecedented period of violence and disarray.
The latest developments include a constitutional crisis: a non-functional senate, an unelected government that many consider illegitimate, a lack of governance, the assassination of a sitting president, and gangs that have taken over the capital, the supply chains, and all roads leading out of the city. They use kidnapping for ransom, rape, and murder, and attack other gangs for territorial control; hundreds have died.
The economy is collapsing, and inflation is soaring. Haitians of all backgrounds flee by any means possible. The situation is worse in the capital and its surrounding regions, including where we work in the Croix-des-Bouquets arrondissement, an area controlled by the second largest gang, the 400 Mawozo.
When these developments are added to the country’s pre-existing conditions of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, the lack of access to water, sewage, power, healthcare, and education, the effects of climate change – not to mention the hurricane season that is upon us – life for many becomes unbearable.
Indeed, Haitians leave in droves. Many are detained when they reach their destinations and repatriated, only to start the whole process again. Too many die at sea as their flimsy boats are overcrowded and not seaworthy.
Haitians are always admired for their “resilience”. As one of our dear friends recently said, “we’re sick and tired of being resilient, we just want to live normal lives”.
Everyone agrees that restoring public security is a priority, including the current government and the World Bank. Hopefully, this will result in a robust response to the violence.
Our work is affected by these events but has not stopped.
We feel the urgency to persevere in supporting the Haitian smallholder farming communities we partner with so they can continue to grow food. Supporting them is more urgent than ever as already 4.4 million of the 11 million Haitians experience food insecurity.
We worry about our farmers and our team constantly – evaluating security risks has become a daily routine. We remain flexible and adaptable as the situation constantly changes.
But we’re steadfast in continuing to jointly establish agricultural cooperatives farmers own and lead. They understand that owning a support structure makes it possible for them to build more effective and profitable farms. The first cooperative opened, the second is in the process, and the first starts training in three months.
Thanks to our fabulous Haitian team, our board, donors, and friends, our work continues, albeit, at a slower pace than usual.