Haiti is the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, and registers some of the highest rates of income inequality worldwide. In 2020, the poverty rate reached nearly 60 percent, with two thirds of the poor living in rural areas. In 2021, 4.3 million people (around 44 per cent of the population) suffered from acute food insecurity.
Haiti’s history has been dogged by political instability and major natural disasters. The context further deteriorated in 2021 with the murder of President Jovenel Moïse, followed by a violent 7.2 magnitude earthquake a few weeks later which caused more than 2,200 deaths and US$2 billion worth of damage in southern Haiti.
Agriculture and fisheries account for nearly 20 per cent of GDP and provide employment to half the labour force. However, agriculture’s contribution to the economy has been declining since the 1980s, and Haiti must import a significant portion of the agricultural products it consumes.
Agricultural productivity is severely constrained by a number of factors. Small farmers lack access to technology and key production factors, especially irrigation water. Post-harvest losses are considerable, often due to a lack of storage and processing facilities. Road infrastructure is poor. Small farmers and poor rural households have extremely limited access to credit for productive activities.
Compounding these issues, Haiti is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. The southern peninsula is particularly exposed to tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, and landslides. In the coming years, temperatures are expected to increase, rainfall will decrease, and extreme climatic events will become more frequent and intense. The combined impact is expected to degrade soil and decrease yields of irrigated crops. Storms will also likely damage or destroy crops, plantations, livestock, and infrastructure.
IFAD is a key partner in Haiti’s rural development. It has developed strategies, methodologies, and support mechanisms to include the rural poor in development processes.
The 2013-2018 Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP), which was extended until 2021, adopted a holistic approach to natural resource management, facilitating small-scale producers' access to markets and rural finance, and strengthening agriculture-related grass-roots organizations.
Given the evolution of both the country context and IFAD’s strategic engagement in Haiti, a “Transitional” Country Strategy Note will cover 2022-2023 until a new COSOP for 2024-2028 is developed.
The strategic objective of the Country Strategy Note is to reduce rural poverty and strengthen the climate resilience of rural Haitian communities by:
- Promoting sustainable and inclusive management of natural resources, including coastal and marine resources, adapted to climate change;
- Promoting community economic ecosystems that are sustainable, diversify livelihoods, and facilitate good nutrition;
- Investing in human capital development, including capacity-building for rural community organizations responsible for natural resource management.
Haitians also benefit from tools for supporting community-level socio-economic planning, micro-project initiatives, microfinance products, and community productive investments.
- Haiti is among the 13 most fragile countries in the world, ranking 170 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index in 2020.
- The agricultural sector employs approximately half of Haiti’s workforce.
- The "agriculture, forestry and fisheries" sector is the second biggest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product after services, accounting for 20.3 per cent of GDP in 2020.
- IFAD has been working with Haiti since 1978.