New USAID Program Seeks to Combat Food Insecurity in Haiti

Food Insecurity in HaitiIn February 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the start of a new five-year program that promises $50 million in assistance to Haiti. The program, titled Ayiti Pi Djanm (“A Stronger Haiti”), will tackle food insecurity, nutritional status and building resilience for Haiti’s most vulnerable households.

Background on Food Insecurity in Haiti

Haiti has grappled with a growing need for humanitarian assistance in recent years. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) reported many key drivers of food insecurity, including the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the island nation in August 2021. Reduced rainfall and harvests in 2021 led to income loss among farmers, while insufficient government assistance and a general economic decline in the country due to rising inflation rates, depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the U.S. dollar and the economic blowback of the COVID-19 pandemic have only compounded the issue.

These factors left an estimated 4.3 million people facing crisis levels of food security by the end of 2021, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

In 2022, conditions only worsened with rising costs attributed to the conflict in Ukraine. Haiti is particularly vulnerable to shocks in the global food and fuel markets due to its heavy reliance on imports. Furthermore, the threat of the ongoing Atlantic hurricane season looms over the economically fragile nation.

A Stronger Haiti

At the International Event for the Financing of the Reconstruction of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti, USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman revealed their 5-year plan to combat Haiti’s struggle with food insecurity. The conference’s objective was to expand international attention and support to Haiti in response to the 2021 earthquake that caused close to $2 billion in damages across the nation. The project, Ayiti Pi Djanm, initially titled in Haitian Creole, translates to “A Stronger Haiti.”

The USAID program in Haiti is projected to reach nearly 90,000 Haitians across the Nord-Est and Sud departments with integral support. The efforts will include:

  • Community-level training on nutrition and nutritious foods
  • Financial education
  • Promotion of climate-smart agricultural practices
  • Distribution of food vouchers
  • Distribution of multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA)

USAID will partner with international NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to bring this program to fruition. Led by CRS, the project will focus on private sector investments to support local production of food crops, both to reduce food insecurity and foster opportunities for agricultural livelihood.

USAID and Earthquakes

Since the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010, USAID has been Haiti’s top donor, contributing around $5 billion in aid. Relief, recovery and long-term reconstruction assistance in 2010 included search and rescue efforts, the launch of emergency shelters and the construction of educational facilities. These past USAID programs in Haiti have been integral to the nation’s disaster response and economic stability in the face of new challenges. 

In 2021, the U.S. Government provided almost $105 million towards disaster response and risk reduction, including over $92 million from USAID. 

CRS has partnered with USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) since its outset in 1954, supporting BHA growth through advocacy to Congress and the White House. Together, these organizations have been successful in implementing emergency and ongoing efforts to tackle food insecurity in Haiti as well as other nations across the globe.

Carly Ryan Brister
Photo: Unsplash