ACDI/VOCA and the Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND) used a three-pronged, integrated approach to improve food security in Haiti’s Southeast Department, one of the country's least food-secure areas. The initiative promoted sustainable livelihoods, improved the health and nutrition of women and children and developed an early warning system as part of the five-year PL 480 Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program (MYAP) for Haiti funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace.
Over the life of the project (2008 to 2013), ACDI/VOCA and BND reached 72,750 men, women and children living in Haiti’s southeast region. Approximately 16,700 households received health and nutrition training, 14,500 households received food aid and 24,000 beneficiaries received agricultural support. The program reduced vulnerability to food insecurity by integrating three strategies:
Sustainable Agriculture, Off-farm Livelihoods
ACDI/VOCA helped farmers improve agricultural productivity. With the Ministry of Agriculture, the program introduced a number of improved seed varieties such as a new high-yield black bean, a drought-tolerant sorghum and a short-cycle sweet potato. The program also disseminated new planting techniques for vegetables. As of December 2012, approximately 27,000 farmers received improved seeds and planting material. The improved seeds and techniques improved both the diet and finances of families.
The program promoted reforestation on steep hillsides through education and by distributing fruit and forest tree seedlings from locally supported tree nurseries. From October 2010 to September 2011, nearly 120,000 coffee and tree seedlings were transplanted onto beneficiary farms. Through the program, ACDI/VOCA incorporated the reforestation sites into farmer trainings to demonstrate the inherent environmental and economic benefits of sound natural resource management practices for hillside soil erosion prevention and mitigation against shocks.
Enhanced Mother-Child Health, Nutrition
The program’s health and nutrition interventions targeted mothers and children, linked the most vulnerable and underserved communities to health and nutrition services and provided training on health and hygiene practices.
ACDI/VOCA and BND carried out a food distribution program aimed at vulnerable mothers and children. The food distribution was mainly preventive and aimed to distribute food to children, ages 6-23 months, and all pregnant and lactating mothers who lived in vulnerable areas. ACDI/VOCA monitored the health of beneficiaries, weighed and vaccinated children and provided nutrition services. As of December 2012, a total of 29,132 children and 12,239 pregnant and lactating women benefited from the nutrition program. To ensure sustainability after food distributions end, staff integrated beneficiaries into the program’s agricultural activities so they would learn new farming techniques as well.
Promotion of mother care groups continued to be a key program activity. In 2012, 49 new groups were formed and received training; a total of 85 mother care groups are active. Within those care groups, 827 mother leaders used home visits to convey information on hygiene and sanitation, health seeking behavior, prevention and treatment of diarrhea, child care and maternal health.
Early Warning System in Southeast
The early warning system (EWS) is a monitoring tool for slow onset emergencies (e.g., droughts) and rapid onset emergencies (e.g., hurricanes). It helps communities successfully identify and respond to shocks. ACDI/VOCA became the leader in developing a sustainable EWS for the southeast, designed to create linkages between local authorities, community leaders and the Cordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire (CNSA).
ACDI/VOCA spearheaded a joint food security observatory in the southeast, which publishes southeast early warning bulletins. The bulletins provide rainfall data, prices for selected markets and relevant agricultural information, as well as information from the Ministry of Health. The bulletins are published in collaboration with the Observatoire de la Sécurité Alimentaire du Sud-est (OSASE) and are available on CNSA’s website.
The project worked closely with Haiti’s Département de Protection Civile (DPC) to review and prepare emergency contingency plans with local authorities, key leaders and other nongovernmental organizations from different localities and communes. As a result, 168 localities are now covered by an EWS that is linked to a response system, and a new contingency plan was published this year.