Food Security Outlook Update

Food insecurity persists alongside the socio-political crisis and high staple-food prices.

April 2021

April - May 2021

June - September 2021

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Between March and April, generally above-average rainfall was recorded at national level. These conditions favored planting and spring crop development, although these activities were limited in some areas by factors such as high seed prices and farmers’ loss of capital due to successive bad seasons. However, the situation is different in the Nord and Nord-est departments (especially in the plains), which were affected by floods at the end of March, and also in Haut Plateau, which is suffering from a water deficit.

  • The socio-political climate remains unstable. This instability is disrupting livelihoods, particularly in urban centers. In the capital, increased cases of kidnapping are increasingly leading to violent demonstrations and sporadic closures of businesses and schools, disruption of trade flows affecting physical availability and access to food, and disruption of public transportation. All of this has a negative impact on informal income opportunities, particularly for poor urban households.

  • Though it is below the April 2020 level around 100 gourdes, the official exchange rate reached 82.73 gourdes on April 20, 2021. Imported commodity prices, which are strongly correlated to the informal market exchange rate of around 100 gourdes, thus maintain their high trend compared to the five-year average.

  • Livelihoods are still disrupted, mainly due to low purchasing power and lack of related employment opportunities. In the midst of the lean season, very poor households will therefore continue to adopt Crisis or Stressed strategies to maintain their current level of food consumption. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity are therefore recorded in most regions.

CURRENT SITUATION

COVID-19 pandemic. According to reports from the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), new cases of COVID-19 contamination are increasingly slowing down. However, a vaccination plan has not yet been developed for the country.  The population continues to carry out its usual activities, without any restrictive measures.

Socio-political situation. Socio-political instability continues to disrupt subsistence activities, particularly in urban centers. In the capital, Port-au-Prince, increased gang violence and kidnappings have increasingly led to violent demonstrations, inhibiting economic activities. The sporadic closure of businesses and schools and the limited functioning of markets are negatively impacting income opportunities, particularly for poor urban households.

Rainfall conditions and growing season developments. Above-average rainfall was recorded in the country’s various agro-ecological zones between the first dekad of March and the first dekad of April. These conditions favored sowing operations from March onwards and spring crop development, although spring season activities were already limited by other factors such as high seed prices and farmers’ loss of capital due to the previous bad seasons.

The situation is somewhat different in the Nord and Nord-est departments. The rains at the end of March and the beginning of April caused flooding, especially in the plains, damaging current crops (beans in particular). However, this situation was favorable to the start of sowing activities in the mountains and in the dry farming areas in the plains. The reality is also different in the central Haut Plateau area, except in the Cerca-la-Source commune which has small irrigation systems. This region benefited from the rains in the first dekad of March, during which farmers started spring season activities. Dry spells at the end of the month slowed the development of the season’s crops.

Sources of income. Activities related to sowing and weeding operations for the spring season offer increased income opportunities for poor households. However, income from agricultural labor remains below average, as farmers’ low financial capacity prevents them from responding to the available labor supply. Income from migration — particularly migration to the Dominican Republic, which is becoming increasingly difficult because of COVID-19 — is declining. With agricultural product availability below average, income from these products follows the same trend, all other things being equal. Charcoal sales, on the other hand, remain at normal levels.

Food availability. Staple foods, most of which are imported, are available. Local products such as roots, tubers, and bananas are also available, but below average. Maize and beans in particular are very scarce during this sowing season, until the June harvest. Additionally, mangoes from low-lying areas are available in several places. For the time being, these represent a source of vitamins for the poorest households.

Markets and food prices. Local food prices are increasing in almost all markets, given the current sowing season in various locations and below-average rains. At the national level, for example, the average price of local maize has continued to rise, increasing by an average of nearly 8 percent, with a six-pound pot selling for about 161 gourdes compared to 149 in February. Additionally, apart from rice, prices of imported food products such as cooking oil, wheat flour, and sugar still fluctuated slightly (less than 5 percent) compared to February, with the exception of a few markets (Gonaïves, Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, and Ouanaminthe). The price of imported rice showed a less stable trend in March, increasing by more than 6 percent on average. The price of a six-pound pot traded at over 279 gourdes in March compared to 263 in February.

Current food security outcomes. Food security conditions continue to be impacted by rising prices. Additionally, the socio-political crisis is accompanied by an unprecedented rise in kidnappings for ransom, which impoverishes families. High food prices and reduced income from factors including business showdowns and closures have reduced households’ purchasing power and thus their access to basic foodstuffs.

Livelihoods remain fragile, due to the increase in commodity prices and the impacts of the socio-political crisis on market functioning and income-generating activities, particularly in metropolitan areas of Port-au-Prince. Purchasing power continues to decline and some households are still resorting to negative coping strategies to obtain food, while others are finding it difficult to incur non-food expenditures. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity are sustained throughout the country, with a significant number of households in Crisis.

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions of the most likely FEWS NET scenario for February to September 2021 have not changed, with the exception of the following updated assumptions:

  • According to the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecast, cumulative rainfall from March through June will be average, with water deficits in a few areas in the center of the country. This favors average spring season crop production. However, areas hit hard by high seed prices and farmers’ low financial capacity will have below-average production.
  • Socio-political instability is likely to intensify over the projection period, particularly in the run-up to the referendum on amending Haiti’s constitution on June 27 and the general elections scheduled for September. Both elections are expected to result in a consolidation of power for the president, which will intensify discontent within the political opposition. This will lead to further protest activities, particularly in the Haitian capital.
  • The expected socio-political protests and disruptions due to increased kidnappings and gang violence are likely to disrupt trade flows and movements affecting physical availability of and access to food, particularly in urban centers.
  • Apart from imported rice and local maize, food prices are stable at the national level. However, the Haitian Central Bank’s temporary inability to inject foreign currency (including the US dollar) into the foreign exchange market due to the depletion of its foreign exchange reserves suggests that prices may rise. In addition to the lean season, higher prices can be expected in the coming months, despite a favorable environment on the international cereal market, particularly for rice.

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2021

Between April and May, poor households’ purchasing power will decline due to high staple food prices. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity, for the most part, will continue, with a gradual increase in the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the spring harvest from June onwards.

The period from June to September coincides with the spring harvest, which will have a limited impact on poor and very poor households’ acute food insecurity. The performance of the spring season will be below average, despite favorable agro-climatic conditions. The supply of local produce, coupled with high commodity prices and below-average incomes, will negatively affect poor households’ food access. Thus, the poorest households will have reduced purchasing power and will mostly resort to Crisis strategies such as increasing charcoal sales and consuming low quality or early food as well as Stressed strategies including reducing quantities consumed, diet quality, and credit purchases. In this context, most regions of the country will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics