Staff from the Lambi Fund of Haiti met with representatives from 14 grassroots organizations on February 25, 2013 in Les Cayes, Haiti to receive an update on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Following the immense flooding that led to widespread loss of crops and livestock, Lambi Fund mobilized to provide emergency relief grants to 14 affected organizations in Southern Haiti. These grants were used to help organization members that were the most adversely affected purchase new seeds, fertilizers and supplies to replant their crops. Funds were also used to repair irrigation canals and replace livestock that were lost in the storm.
Thanks to support from donors like you, Lambi Fund was able to swiftly provide partners with the resources they needed to recover. A member of the Women’s Organization of Jabwen explained that, “Following the storm, the peasant population thought we couldn’t stand up again - all was lost. Members were depressed and complaining about their circumstances. Everyone was wondering - what are we going to do? How will we move forward? The emergency funding gave the people a change to till our land and plant again. We worked together and plowed for other organizations and members in the community.”
Another recipient and member of the local organization AFDL shared that, “Before relief funding from Lambi Fund came, people weren’t sure when they could plant and harvest again. This was a major concern for everyone. The Lambi Fund of Haiti helped us till the land again…we have gardens again. The emergency relief was an opportunity for us. Hurricane Sandy came during planting season and we weren’t sure how we were going to repair the land. With Lambi Fund’s support, we re-tilled the land and planted again. Now we have corn, nuts, and black beans and harvesting has begun.”
Despite these successes, many organization members shared their struggles with the current drought. For most, it has not rained since the hurricane and this has made replanting and growing food near impossible. A member of Tet-Kole Bedo said, “We’re having a hurricane of sun now. The land is dry and hard – it is impossible to plant and difficult to grow feed for animal husbandry projects.” He continued on explaining, “In January everyone was ready to plant, but there was no rain. So we wait. We keep waiting for the rain to come.”
It is external circumstances like these that make farming in Haiti difficult. The environment and increasing unpredictability of precipitation leave impoverished farmers at the mercy of the land. Given these realities, Lambi Fund is working with organizations on capacity building so that they can work to address these vulnerabilities (through irrigation canals and mobile water pumps, for example). When organizations begin advocating and petitioning the government for policies that will benefit the community, it is then that key concerns begin to be resolved.
A member of OFJ explained the value of organizing best when she said, “At first, our husbands would always ask, ‘Why are you part of that organization? It takes up too much time.’ Then we received assistance from the Lambi Fund of Haiti [for goat breeding efforts] and they began to see our projects and the impact. Now our husbands will ask – ‘What are you doing home? Go to your meeting!’ They see the value of our work and want to be organized too.”
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