IFAD-funded project to protect environment in Haiti by improving smallholder farmers’ and artisanal fishermen’s livelihoods

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Haiti signed a financing agreement today for the implementation of the Inclusive Blue Economy Project (I-BE). The project will help preserve the Three Bay Protected Area (AP3B, by its French acronym) by providing economic opportunities to smallholder famers and artisanal fishermen living in the country’s north-eastern region.

The I-BE Project, to be executed by Haiti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, represents a total investment of US$ 26.6 million ($ 14 million from IFAD funds). It will benefit 40,000 people living in the five communes of the protected area (Limonade, Caracol, Fort Liberté, Ferrier and Terrier Rouge), and the two bordering watersheds of Trou-du-Nord and Terrier Rouge. The project will have a particular focus on women (50 per cent of the beneficiaries) and youth (40 per cent).

“We believe the best way to help Haitian smallholder famers and artisanal fisher folk to progress and contribute to the country’s food security is by enabling them to run their economic activities in a sustainable manner, so that they are not forced to deplete natural resources to survive,” said Paolo Silveri, IFAD’s Country Director for Haiti.

The I-BE Project will strengthen the capacities of Haiti’s National Agency for Protected Areas (ANAP, by its French acronym) and update the AP3B’s management plan. It will also facilitate the adaptation of national legislation to support artisanal fisheries by ensuring the sustainability of fishing practices. The Foundation for the Protection of Marine Biodiversity (FoProBiM), a private operator, will be a key contributor to the implementation of the protected area action plan.

Complementarily, the project will allow communities to develop sustainable livelihoods that reduce the pressure on natural resources, such as mangrove forest, coral reefs and watersheds, which are key ecological assets.

The incidence of poverty and malnutrition in the area are among the highest in the country and current fishing and agricultural practices -such as the use of small-mesh seines, anarchic tree cutting for charcoal production, slash-and-burn practices, and non-use of soil conservation techniques- are exhausting marine and land resources, jeopardizing their sustainability and posing a worrying threat to the country’s food security in the medium-long term.

The project will contribute to the proper regulation of these practices to reduce pressure on natural resources, and will diversify food production, by promoting good practices in small animal breeding, vegetable growing, honey and salt production and management of mangrove forests. The I-BE will also promote a more sustainable use of wood as kitchen fuel through training on vegetal charcoal production techniques and improvement of home ovens.

Enhanced fishing techniques and salt production will create synergies that will improve processing and marketing of fish. This will make it possible to sell properly salted, dried and smoked fish not only in the area, but also in other locations within the country. In parallel, better small animal breeding and vegetable production will allow participating families to improve their diets and earn complementary income.

Lessons learnt from I-BE could potentially be used as a basis for sustainable management of the other 24 Haitian protected areas.

Haiti’s history has been dogged by political instability and major natural disasters. The country is among the most fragile states in the world, and the only one in the Latin American and Caribbean region with low human development. In 2021, 4.3 million people (around 44 per cent of the population) suffered from acute food insecurity, with nearly 1.3 million people (14% of the population) in a situation of food emergency. The context has further deteriorated following the murder of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and, a few weeks later, the violent earthquake that caused more than 2,200 deaths and US$2 billion worth of damage in southern Haiti.

In February 2022, a Donors’ Conference was held to seek financial and political support for the reconstruction and relaunch of the country, especially the southern region. At the conference, IFAD renewed its commitment to work with Haitian authorities and civil society on inclusive, resilient and innovative economic initiatives at local level that move away from relief-centred aid towards sustainable development.

“We need to create economic and social opportunities in rural areas, so that young Haitians have an alternative to migration, while those who have already left have a reason to return. The signing of the I-BE project is further proof of IFAD’s contribution to achieve this goal,” said Silveri.

Since IFAD began operations in Haiti almost 45 years ago, the Fund has invested in 11 projects in the country, with a total value of approximately US$ 290 million (of which, around US$140 million from IFAD funds), benefitting more than 100,000 rural families. IFAD’s Haiti portfolio includes strong strategic alliances with financial partners such as IDB, FAO and the Green Climate Fund. Over the last year, IFAD has stepped up its commitment to Haiti through five new operations. Considering its high level of fragility, all IFAD investments in Haiti are financed through grants.

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