This Wednesday and Thursday Daniel and I had the amazing opportunity to travel into an extremely rural part of Haiti, to some of the most distant families served by Zanmi Agrikol’s Family Assistance Program. The locations we visited were called Nan Chambo, La Croix, and Boule, and we also met with representative groups from Decide and Chico, which were another days donkey ride across the mountains of the Boucan Carre district than we were able to travel. On this trip, we had the opportunity to talk, hike, eat, and live with families, learning very much about the day to day life of the rural Haitian Families that we met. Here are a few of their stories:
When we stopped under a mango tree for a while to get out of the sun, I asked him what his vision for this area was. He said that what the region desperately needs is a secondary school and an orphanage. He explained that because of the family assistance program his production has increased enough that he can afford tuition for his children, but because there is no secondary school within a day by donkey, he must be able to additionally afford room and board for his children in the town of Boucan Carre to give them the chance to finish high school, and the opportunity for a better life.
Me and Sammy (Zamni Agrikol Technicienne for Boucan Carre) interview families from Nan Chambo.
These families are all beneficiaries of the Family Assistance Program, who have been given black beans, corn, goats, and tools from Zanmi Agrikol. They also explained that it was because of Zanmi Agrikol that they now understand the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet, and also have the seeds and know how to grow fruits and vegetables. Before Zanmi Agrikol provided this training they say the did not eat fruits and vegetables at all, and did not know how to produce them. Zanmi Agrikol also trained them in soil conservation, soil prepartion, seed conservation, and harvesting techniques.
All of this information was very important in helping me to think about how a payments for ecosystem services project might fit into the context of rural Haiti. There are certainly a lot of challenges to overcome, but the potential for reforestation here is also very great.