Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January, Norway has provided NOK 200 million (USD 35 million) in emergency relief. Norway has also signaled that it will step up its long-term assistance to Haiti by providing an additional NOK 600 million (USD 100 million).
It has been widely recognized that sustainable development in Haiti will not succeed without a concerted Haitian and international effort to reduce Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters, to address the disastrous environmental situation in a different and more holistic way, and to enable the agricultural sector to revive its production in order to enhance food security in rural and urban areas.
Haiti, which was three quarters covered with forests when Europeans first came, is now 98% deforested. In contrast, the tree coverage in Dominican Republic remains one third of the territory. Haiti’s lack of trees contributes to mud slides, flooding, and soil erosion that greatly increase the suffering of the Haitian population during natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms which hit the island regularly. Reforestation efforts in Haiti are hampered by the widespread poverty, unclear property rights and lack of alternate fuel sources; without other alternatives, desperately poor people cut down any trees that have been planted to use in heating and cooking.
The pressing need to address the environmental situation is also closely linked to the need to promote a more productive agricultural sector. As part of the economic adjustment policies of the 1980s, import barriers were removed, and the Haitian market was flooded by heavily subsidized America rice. As Haitian peasants were unable to compete, they abandoned agriculture and migrated to Port-au-Prince. Rice production in Haiti has never since recovered, and investments in drainage, irrigation systems and machinery are necessary to fully reactivate this production. The destruction of the rice production during the 1980s, marginal land and periodic crop damaging droughts and floods combined with ever-rising food prices and the lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere means that the Haitian people is prone to acute food insecurity, especially in rural areas.
In this context PRIO (Norwegian Church Aid) and Noref are jointly organizing a seminar focusing on the environmental and agricultural situation in Haiti and the way forward. The audience will consist of representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NGOs, research centres and invited experts based in, or with long experience from, Haiti.
09.00 – Welcome
09.15 – How to construct a durable platform for agricultural and environmental change – from policy development to practical implementation- Gerald Jean Baptiste – CIAT - TBC
10.00 – Agriculture: How to build a sustainable agricultural sector in Haiti – past errors and challenges ahead: Maurepas Jeudy, Intermon OXFAM Haiti
10.45 – Coffee break
11.00 – Tree planting strategies: Why have they failed in the past, and viable strategies for durable results in the future: Prof. Gerald F. Murray, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Florida
11.50 - The international community: how to ensure a concerted approach in coherence with Haitian priorities: Joel Boutroue, Special Advisor to the Haitian Minister for Planning and International Cooperation and former UN DSRSG/RC/HC in Haiti
12.15 - Experiences from other countries and regions that could prove viable for the development of the environmental and agricultural sectors in Haiti:
Experiences from agricultural co-op projects in the Balkans: Johan Skjæveland, Head of Board in Skjæveland AS
Increased output from agriculture by appropriate mechanization combined with disaster preparedness: Svein Olaf Lie, Greentrac
12.50 – Wrap-up
13.00 - Lunch
The seminar will start at 09.00 at PRIO, Hausmanns gate no. 7, NO-0186 Oslo
If you would like to attend, please register with firstname.lastname@example.org within 7 May.
Tone Faret, NOREF, email@example.com
Wenche Hauge, PRIO, Wenche_h@prio.no
Ingvild Skeie, NCA, Ingvild.Skeie@nca.no