Environment & Development in Haiti

Following the earthquake in January 2010, Planète Urgence has, at the request of local authorities, initiated a project in Lamontagne, a community in Jacmel in the south of Haiti.

This rural area, which largely depends on agriculture, has for some years been experiencing a process of impoverishment and reduction in income for farmers as a result of soil erosion, deforestation, loss of production of high added value crops, such as coffee, and a fall in productivity.

In addition, the local education, health and social services infrastructure, such as good standard schools, accessible healthcare centers and shops, is non-existent or poorly adapted to the needs.

This lack of basic services feeds an already significant rural exodus. In fact, because young people and families cannot find the necessary resources for food and economic security in rural areas, they leave for the cities. This phenomenon worsens food dependency in a country that was self-sufficient until just a few decades ago.

The earthquake in 2010 has greatly exacerbated the situation and the vulnerability of families in the area: 1,530 homes were destroyed or severely damaged according to the Casec census (the Community Section Board).

To address these issues, a partnership was established in March 2010 between Planète Urgence, OPADEL (organization of farmers for the development of Lamontagne - a farmer's group with 950 members) and Casec.

"A roof, a future"

The "A roof, a future" project is mainly financed by businesses and foundations providing support to families to rebuild their homes and boost the local economy by:

  • building and repairing houses for disadvantaged families or survivors returning to the village
  • supporting economic development (micro-credit for small business and agriculture) and support for agricultural activities (provision of seeds and tools, training)
  • restoring degraded land and promoting the environment by planting forestry trees (targeting soil erosion) and trees for economic use (support for local family-run agroforestry production and sale of 19,500 coffee plant seedlings, grafted citrus trees, quality fruit trees at suitable prices).

This project is the second phase in the "A roof, a future" project, the first phase of which involved building and renovating 200 rural houses.

The second part of the "Un toit, un avenir" project plans to build and renovate an additional 100 rural houses.

The houses, with an area of 36m², meet para-seismic and anti-cyclone constraints and are equipped with a solar lighting point, gutters, a tank for rainwater storage and latrines. A large part of the building work is carried out by the beneficiary families, who mobilize neighbors and relatives, particularly in terms of contributing local materials (water, sand, rocks, etc).

In the second phase of the project, an innovative construction technique has been developed. This is based on the principle of gabions, which consists of producing and combining wire cages filled with stones.

This initiative will limit the use of cement and concrete and involve more families in the construction of their own home, as they build the foundations by filling the wire cages with rocks collected on site. Moreover, the gabion construction techniques can be learnt very quickly and require relatively few materials.

The project also aims to transfer adequate and accessible sustainable construction skills and knowhow to the local artisans so that an appropriate construction industry can be developed in Lamontagne.

Architecturally, the project aims to respect the building tradition, but improve its comfort and safety in terms of natural hazards.

Local partners

  • The identification of beneficiary families, logistical support in collecting materials and leading the gabion production workshop is undertaken by the OPADEL farmers' organization. Founded in 2004, OPADEL is an organization of young Haitian farmers born in the region. With approximately 950 paying members, OPADEL supports Lamontagne villagers in implementing activities that will revitalize the area: the development of agriculture, education, early childhood (kindergarten), health, culture (film screenings, cultural activities, etc), and the environment.
  • The "Architecture & Développement" association, which has developed great expertise in building with gabions, is in charge of providing technical support in implementing this technology (business plans, training, diagnostics, etc).
  • Artisans, once trained, complete all the constructions.
  • The families, who are actively involved in the construction of their homes.

Results expected in 2013

  • the construction and repair of 100 houses, benefiting 100 of the most vulnerable families
  • the construction of a school and a craft center
  • setting up a materials manufacturing plant and an advisory centre for artisans and farmers wishing to repair their homes
  • training for 30 to 50 local artisan in the new para-seismic and anticyclone building techniques

The Fondation Abbé Pierre and the Secours Catholique are now the main financial partners for this project.

Activity, training and exchange centre (CAFE)

Right at the beginning of our work in Haiti, the construction of a rural center to support the economic recovery in the Lamontagne region emerged as a priority.

The objective of the center is to bring together the traditional activities undertaken by our partner OPADEL on a single site, for example micro-credit, crafts, seed trade, operating a tool bank and setting up training for farmers. In parallel, additional actions to support the development of income-generating activities are planned.

The inauguration of the CAFE took place on Monday, April 8, 2013 in the presence of representatives of the Fondation Daniel and Nina Carasso and the Fondation de France.

This rural center consists of several buildings including:

  • spaces for training and education
  • production and processing workshops
  • accommodation
  • storage and sales areas
  • offices

The support of the Fondation de France, the Fondation Daniel and Nina Carasso and the company BIC in particular, made it possible to develop the wide spectrum of activities proposed by the CAFE.

The project, set to last 2 and a half years, has three phases:

  • 2012: construction of CAFE buildings by local artisans, under the supervision of the local Planète Urgence team.
  • 2013: launch of the CAFE activities and monitoring (operational and financial) and the development of means of empowerment in very close partnership with Planète Urgence.
  • 2014 more distant support follow-up phase, with a view to the complete autonomy of the center's team.

The economic viability of the center is based on two main activities:

  • the purchase and sale of bean and corn seed: this activity ensures quality seeds at affordable prices are available at planting time
  • the sale and simple processing of local agricultural produce, for example hulling and drying coffee beans, flour production.

In addition, the CAFE also offers various economic support activities: support for small businesses, sewing workshop, management and book keeping training, and other training through missions undertaken by Congé Solidaire volunteers.

Finally, two other areas of action have been developed within the scope CAFE:

  • An innovative digital education project has been set up with the Haïti Futur association. Every day the CAFE premises welcome a primary school class, which participates in interactive lessons, giving the children access to new technologies.
  • Creating production facilities and pre-fabrication of construction materials employing a local workforce (about 60 people). The objective is to develop an innovative construction industry in the area, significantly reducing the proportion of imported materials and transportation costs (cement, rebar) while allowing local artisans to produce less expensive and more durable houses.

The local partner

OPADEL, set up in 2004, is an association of young farmers that were born in the region.

With approximately 950 paying members, OPADEL supports the people of Lamontagne to set up activities that will revitalize the area: development of agriculture, education, early childhood (kindergarten) health, culture (screening films, cultural activities, etc) environment.

The results expected in 2013

The project aims to achieve the following results:

  • the completion of construction by local artisans of all the CAFé buildings, meeting para-seismic and anti-cyclone constraints and serving as a refuge in case of cyclone
  • the provision of services and economic development activities that directly benefit about 500 families: seed and coffee producers, center workers, trained farmers, seamstresses, and people buying from the store

Through the collective dynamic that drives new activities (construction sector, digital education, etc), the center benefits all the 30,000 people in Lamontagne.

The Fondation Daniel & Nina Carasso is now the main financial partner in this project

The association "Architecture & Développement" has provided its technical expertise for the design and construction of the buildings as well as for training artisans and spreading innovative methods of construction in Haiti.

Support for reforestation in the rural area of Lavial

Objectives

Help fight soil erosion and contribute to local economic development in the rural section of Lavial (Southeast department) by planting 50,000 trees.

Actions undertaken

  • Planting 50,000 fruit and forest trees: mangoes, acacias, cedars, eucalyptus, casuarina, prosopis, oak, mahogany and cashew.
  • Education and training in plant nursery techniques for beneficiary families.

Support for digital education

Objective

Contribute to local development in Lamontagne Jacmel by gradually improving the quality of education provided for children under the Haitian national education system and enabling Haïti Futur to establish three digital education classrooms.

Actions undertaken

  • Build and / or develop 3 digital classrooms in Lamontagne (in Dénoué, Lacroix and Sable Cabaret).
  • Provide training for teachers and ensure the project's long term future.
  • • Create vegetable gardens for families of students as an extension to the educational classroom activities.