News / Americas

Agriculture Short-Changed in Haiti's Post-Quake Recovery

Lack of rural jobs threatens reconstruction effort

Rural jobs would improve food supplies and prevent crowding in Haiti's capital.
Rural jobs would improve food supplies and prevent crowding in Haiti's capital.

Multimedia

Audio

After a powerful earthquake struck Haiti in January, boosting agricultural production was seen as one of the keys to the nation's recovery.

Six months later, the U.N. Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) says only half the funding pledged for agriculture has been delivered.

Experts say short-changing food production is a common problem in many humanitarian crises and, in Haiti, it threatens to undermine the nation's already-troubled recovery.

Rural help wanted

When the earthquake ravaged Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, an estimated 600,000 people fled for the countryside.

The flood of people put tremendous strain on their hosts. Experts believe one of the best ways for the rural areas to cope with the new arrivals would be to create jobs boosting food production.

In a country where more than half the population was undernourished before the earthquake, the extra hands could be put to good use.

"But it definitely is not happening like everybody had hoped," says Keith Flanagan with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. He and others hoped to see large-scale irrigation, reforestation and other projects that would help farmers grow more food.

But, for the most part, he sees a lot of people being paid to sweep the streets.

"Tomorrow it's going to look just like it did yesterday," he says. "It is better than a handout, but I think there are things that can make a more lasting impact."

Back to Port-au-Prince

Most of the reconstruction activity so far has been focused on Port-au-Prince.

"If all the investment now will be done in the city where there are huge needs to reconstruct all the infrastructure, where there will be a lot of demand in terms of construction work, then you will have again a pull effect from the rural areas back into a city that is not ready to absorb a lot more people than they have today," says Christina Amaral, FAO's emergency operations chief.

Port-au-Prince was overcrowded before the earthquake. The mass exodus from the capital presented an opportunity to relieve the strain. Now, concern is growing that that opportunity is slipping away.  

The United Nations requested $60 million in emergency reconstruction aid for agriculture. It's a tiny sliver of the total aid package of $1.6 billion the UN had asked for. But six months later, only about half of the funding for agriculture has come through.

Urban bias

That's no big surprise to Marc Cohen, a policy researcher with the humanitarian aid group, Oxfam.

"If you look across the United Nations humanitarian appeals, pretty consistently agriculture gets short-funded," he says.

Cohen says part of the problem is an urban bias among policy elites in both the donor and affected countries. He adds that donors get much more immediate and visible results from relief like education, medical care and direct food aid.

"If you're feeding people, you can see the direct impact," he says. "Whereas if you send seeds, they have to be planted, they have to cultivated, they have to be harvested before there's an impact."

But the impact does come, says Cohen, noting that more than 100,000 farm families will soon be harvesting crops grown with seeds, fertilizer and tools donated to help them cope with the earthquake's aftermath.

The FAO planned to help 25,000 more families, but ran out of funds.

Long-term plans

In the longer term, the Haitian government has a $700 million plan to create rural jobs while improving food supplies.

Those programs are expected to begin in the coming months. The World Bank and the United States are making major contributions.

But, in the meantime, people are beginning to drift back into Port-au-Prince, amid concerns that the opportunity to rebuild a less crowded capital and boost the rural economy may be fading.

You May Like

Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New Brazil Poll Shows Silva Beating Rousseff in Runoff

Outcome seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago; would put an end to 12 years of Workers' Party rule
More

Argentina Desires Deal Grouping All Holdout Investors Together

A deal is now not seen likely before next year's October presidential election, in which Fernandez cannot run
More

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More