The Context in which we work

The Content in which we work


Haiti is experiencing an unprecedented period of violence and disarray.

Haiti Old building in the town.

Haiti is experiencing unprecedented insecurity, including kidnappings, rapes, and killings by vicious gangs that outnumber and outgun the Haitian National Police. The gangs control large swaths of the capital, including all roads in and out of the city, the ports, the petrol terminal of Varreux, which supplies more than 70% of the country’s gasoline, and all supply chains including those for food and medicine,  

This insecurity, coupled with the galloping inflation (34%), the devaluation of the Haitian gourde (140 HTG to $1), skyrocketing prices, shortages of just about everything, and the brain drain, is dragging thousands into deeper poverty.

Examples of price hikes from before these events and now:


- Before: 250 gourdes per gallon
- After: 570 gourdes per gallon


- 353 gourdes per gallon
- 670 gourdes per gallon


- 352 gourdes per gallon
- 665 gourdes per gallon

Since gas stations are closed, the only way to get gas is on the black market where prices are going through the roof: it can cost as much as 5,000 gourdes for a gallon of gasoline and 4,500 gourdes for a gallon of diesel (Le Nouvelliste).

One egregious result of misguided US policies is that more than 80% of food staples like rice and cooking oil are imported, which makes them unaffordable for struggling families that represent the majority of Haitians. The UN estimates that today 4.7 million of the 11 million inhabitants experience hunger, or extreme hunger, and more than half of them are children. When adding the widespread strikes, and closed schools, businesses and hospitals, it becomes evident that Haiti is on the brink of a catastrophe.

The closing of hospitals is particularly alarming at a time when more than 1,000 cases of cholera have been identified in different regions indicating that it has already spread. Most of the patients are children.  

Gangs have existed in Haiti for generations. They are financed by high-level politicians and by some prominent businesspeople and families. Before, they were confined to the slums and would come out when asked to support a political candidate chosen by those who financed them or to kill a journalist or an academic with whom they disagreed, or someone who was an inconvenient opponent.

The assassination of President Jovenel Moise produced shock and disarray that opened doors to opportunities gangs and their benefactors seized. Whereas before they fought for territorial control inside the slums, now they do it to grab large parts of the capital.

A group of Haitians, informally called the ‘Montana Group’, is working on creating a broad coalition in order to find a “Haitian Solution” to this crisis. The current government proposed a counter-solution. So far the two sides have been unable to compromise.  

At last, the international community is talking about creating a humanitarian corridor to get emergency supplies to those suffering from hunger. It is possible that there will be a military intervention by an international force.

Restoring public safety is paramount. The reality is that Haiti has no army as it was disbanded in 1995 to stop military interference in politics and for having conducted more than a dozen coups. The only functioning defense is the Haitian National Police, which needs to hire a considerable number of additional troopers and provide extensive training, competitive salaries, modern equipment, and supplies. This will take time and funds - neither is currently available.  

The United States assigned Dr. Ariel Henry as Haiti’s Prime Minister, meaning his legitimacy is questioned by many since he was neither elected nor in line to be the interim president as ascribed by the Haitian constitution.

We add our voices to those sounding the alarm to find an effective and rapid resolution to this crisis, a solution that must respect Haitians’ self-determination and agency, and put a stop to the country’s downward spiral. If not, Haiti may explode like a powder keg, many lives will be lost, and reversing the chaos will be much more costly.

More than ever we are committed to supporting our rural partner communities who rely on us to sustain them in these difficult times. Our Talia Farms regional development program continues to educate and feed the children attending the Patrice Lumumba school, supports the farmers and the small merchant women as they struggle because gangs prevent them from going to market, and we continue to develop our flood mitigating project to protect the farmland and surrounding communities during rainy seasons.  

Thank you for your compassion, generosity, and unwavering support.

Haiti Old building in the town.

Haiti has been grappling with a multifaceted crisis since President Moise's 2021 assassination. Well-armed gangs seized control of the capital, its surrounding areas – including the region of Croix-des-Bouquets where we work – and a large swath of central regions. With a non-existent army and outnumbered and outgunned police, the gangs spread with shocking ease.

They use kidnapping for ransom, and rape and murder. They control traffic on all the main roads leading to and from the capital and oil shipment distribution. They ransack and destroy businesses. The economy is in tatters.  

Recently, citizens took power into their own hands and formed ad-hoc groups that meted out brutal justice to gang members. Their actions restrained some gang activity but raised concerns about vigilantism and potential human rights abuses.

The UN appealed to nations to help Haiti. Kenya was the only country to come forward. They are limiting their intervention to leading a police contingent and bringing equipment to train and equip the Haitian police.  Other countries may join. The contingent may arrive in early 2024.

It is very important to note that in the southwestern peninsula and the northern part of the country, gangs are not present. It is believed that the gangs came and were all killed by the local police. The head of the peninsula’s regional police admitted it to a New Yorker journalist who reported it. This may indicate that a well-organized and equipped police force could defeat the gangs.

On another front, a border dispute over the Dajabón River’s water rights  (The Massacre River as Haitians call it) led to border closures. At one point, the river becomes a natural border between the two countries. The length of that natural border is about 50 km, of which 7 km flow in Haiti.

Since the establishment of the two countries, only the DR drew water from the river. Recently Haitians decided to dig a canal to irrigate their farmland. DR president, Luis Abinader, said he was shocked by this action and closed the border.

However, as reported by NACLA, the DR and Haiti have been discussing this canal project for a decade. In 2021 the Dominican National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI) conducted a study that confirmed Haiti’s canal would use less water than the DR uses, which was a crucial point of the agreement.

Given these facts, Haiti is in good standing and can dig the canal and use the river’s water.

This incident underlined the necessity to grow more food in Haiti and rely less on imports from the DR.

Jerry Tardieu, a former parliamentarian, pointed out that this issue will not get resolved until after the next DR presidential elections, scheduled for May 19th, 2024.

December 2023

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