Global climate change has left many farmers around the world struggling to support their families. Over the past year, COVID-19 has made their needs even more severe. In Haiti, PWS&D is responding to help farmers learn creative growing techniques that are increasing their access to nutritious fruit, vegetables and livestock, as well as savings for the future.
For women and men in Haiti who make their living from the earth, recent unpredictable weather has had devastating consequences. While in the past they have weathered dry seasons, farmers now face longer and longer stretches without rain. Even those who have built irrigation systems have been affected, with low water levels in the nation’s rivers making their systems unusable. Windstorms and other environmental factors have meant that even after buds of hope rise from the ground, they are often lost.
PWS&D’s agroforestry program is helping farmers by providing seeds for black bean, pigeon pea and corn crops, which are more resilient. Farmers learn sustainable field management and band together in savings groups to make their earnings go even further. More important than ever this year, the programming has continued with modifications in place to follow COVID-19 protocols.
Elimène Joseph, an entrepreneur and mother of four, tells the story of how her life was impacted:
We began doing activities such as agroforestry gardens. Then, the program helped launch a women’s association in the region of Ropisa.
Before becoming a member, I struggled to make ends meet. I wanted to start up my own business but couldn’t because I didn’t have enough money. At times, I didn’t even have the money I needed to go down to the market and buy a little food for me and the kids to eat. Things were especially difficult before the harvest.
The program is showing me how to pool my resources together with other women, and bringing us together to reflect on how we can become the kind of women that do not need to depend on our husbands to give us a few vegetables every day. I’m now beginning to feel that I’m living my life as a true woman because I’m developing my leadership skills and economic capacity.
With help from her savings group, Elimène started a business creating chairs and brooms out of palm branches. Then, with her profits, she began buying and selling avocados. Now Elimène can afford the school uniforms, notebooks and textbooks her children need to thrive at school and support them through difficult times. Explaining how she was able to pay the treatment costs when one of her children fell sick last year, Elimène shares, “I have hope that the money I’m saving will come in handy when times are tough.”
The impact of supporting food security around the world is incredibly far-reaching: it makes a difference in families’ health, increases children’s educational opportunities and even affects human rights. “I feel as if I’m no longer alone,” reflects Elimène. “In truth, I do not have enough words to express everything the organization has done for me.”
*This project receives support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank. PWS&D is a member of the Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger.