(During the 2017 Scholarship Sewanee program Duncan Pearce presented his senior thesis)-Examining the Relationship between Household Health and Environmental Conditions in Haiti’s Central Plateau
For rural subsistence farmers in developing countries, human health and the environment are inextricably linked. As part of a long-term agroforestry project, this study explored connections among household health, socioeconomic status and environmental conditions of rural farmers in the Central Plateau of Haiti. Preliminary household surveys in two highland regions gathered baseline information on family health and socioeconomic status. Environmental indices, such as tree density and canopy cover, soil composition and chemistry, and access to clean water were also assessed. Our findings suggest that environmental conditions are important determinants of both health and socioeconomic status. Deforestation of the Central Plateau has resulted in severe soil erosion and decreased land productivity, forcing farmers to rely on a narrow range of grains, beans and maize that can be grown. The low dietary diversity of farmers in this region may pose significant health problems as they depend on their land for survival. We also found that most families rely on medicinal plants for treating ailments. The overarching goal of this project is to help farmers adopt more resilient and diverse agro-ecosystems that improve farm productivity and food security that will lead to better nutrition, health, and economic gains.
Duncan Pearce (Sewanee-the University of the South)
Dr. Deborah McGrath (Sewanee-the University of the South, Department of Biology
Oral Session- 9:20AM Friday, 28th April Woods/ Blackman Auditorium)