Farmer-led Earthquake Recovery Effort in Haiti

For the last eight years the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) has been working with approximately 1,000 farm families in southern Haiti to improve their yields and incomes using an innovative agroforestry model. Centered around the rural community of Laborde, just 5 miles north of the hard-hit city of Les Cayes, these families also felt the full impact of Saturday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Although not yet widely reported, rural areas in this region suffered extensive damage to homes and farm buildings; large numbers of people were injured and are completely without medical services of any kind. And based on the experience of Hurricane Mathew in 2016, post disaster support does not usually extend much beyond city limits.
The advantage the SFA farmers have is that they are well organized and more successful than many in the region. As a result, within hours of the earthquake the SFA Laborde farm leaders were going farm to farm to assess the damage and find out what each family needs in order to cope with their situation.
We are partnering with the Raising Haiti Foundation in supporting this truly extraordinary group of Haitian farmers to not only recover from this disaster, but to come out stronger and able to expand their efforts to transform agriculture in the area. But we can’t do it on our own and so we invite you to join us by making a donation today!
The farmer members of SFA Laborde, working with our regional agronomist Abel Dorvilne, have put together the following two-part operation that your donation will support:
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE: 1) TENTS, because so many homes were destroyed or damaged and many people are sleeping in the open in the midst of heavy rains; 2) FOOD, because markets have been disrupted, particularly for food like rice that comes from outside the immediate area; 3) MEDICAL CARE, because there is no medical facility in the immediate area and injured farmers and their families need help; and 4) WATER, because the water in local wells and other natural sources has turned red as a result of the earthquake, and so either bottled water or water treatment solutions are needed.
RECOVERY ASSISTANCE: 1) SEED, to replace what was lost in the earthquake and to increase the SFA’s seed bank program to include more farmers in the area, 2) PUMPS, so that irrigation can be expanded and yields improved, 3) LIVESTOCK, to replace animals lost in the earthquake and to increase the impact of the SFA goat program, and 4) FRUIT TREES, so that the existing SFA nurseries can replace lost trees and have a higher output of breadfruit, coconuts, mangoes and avocados.
We would like to introduce you to one of the SFA Laborde farmers who is making this request.
Marie Denise Dorvilier (shown above in front of her damaged house) is 58 years old and lives with her family of nine on a one-acre farm near the small village of Fond des Freres, not far from Laborde. She became a member of the SFA last year.
“I was home with my children when the earthquake happened,” said Marie yesterday, “and our house was shaken apart. We ran outside. But three of my kids were hurt by the falling walls.” She went on to explain that when a farm building also collapsed, she lost a season’s worth of beans. Several goats were in a pen connected to the building and escaped.
When asked if she had a message for people who might want to help, Marie said, “To everyone I say thank you for thinking about us. From my heart I say thank you and God bless you.”
The SFA is mounting a second operation in Les Cayes that is led by local university student Elysee Kerly. We know him because he is studying forestry and has visited SFA Laborde. Elysee has enlisted four others to form a “fixer” team to provide accurate information and basic logistical support for NGOs and others who are coming to the city to offer emergency services.
Destruction of farm buildings in Laborde following the earthquake (above). Pre-earthquake photo of SFA farmer members working together to create a tree nursery in Laborde (below).

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