Food Security Outlook

Sociopolitical instability is exacerbating already high food assistance needs following the earthquake

October 2021

October 2021 - January 2022

February - May 2022

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

  • The security situation has deteriorated since early September, with criminal activities and kidnappings for ransom having increased. This, coupled with the persistent scarcity of fuel, has prompted strikes resulting in economic paralysis, mainly in the major cities, leading to the disruption of public transportation, and of the functioning of warehouses, businesses, and schools.

  • The irregular spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, and the residual effects of the earthquake and Tropical Depression Grace on agricultural production in the Sud, Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud-Est departments, characterized by the loss of productive assets such as agricultural inputs, are having an adverse effect on the fall agricultural season.

  • The gourde/dollar exchange rate continues to depreciate, negatively impacting household purchasing power. Imported food prices, which correlate strongly with the informal market exchange rate, remain significantly above average. 

  • The areas affected by the earthquake (Sud, Nippes, Grand’Anse) and Tropical Depression Grace (Sud-Est), those where harvests will be below average (Nord-Ouest, Nord-Est, Haut-Plateau, Haut-Artibonite, Ouest), and Port-au-Prince, which is disrupted by gang activity, will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with households still forced to adopt crisis coping strategies (consumption of early crops or seeds, sale of wood, reduction in the quality and/or quantity of meals) to maintain their food consumption. In some areas, such as Camp-Perrin, Maniche, and Pestel, food assistance will enable poor households to cover their food needs, resulting in Stressed ! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes until February. 

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

The return of African Swine Fever to Haiti. Since the discovery of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Dominican Republic, the Haitian health authorities have taken preventive measures, notably prohibiting imports of pork and pork products to the Haitian market and carrying out diagnostic tests along the border. However, these measures have failed to prevent the introduction of ASF into Haiti, particularly in the border area of Anse-à-Pitres, where the first case was confirmed on 21 September 2021. Although the number of reported cases is low in Haiti, given the highly transmissible nature of the virus and the low capacity for adequate testing, FEWS NET expects the actual number of ASF cases in Haiti to be higher than that reported. Limited information is available on the number of pig deaths due to ASF, but FEWS NET believes that deaths are higher than that reported.

With no treatment or vaccine for ASF, the Government’s approach involves slaughtering all pigs with suspected cases and burying them. The Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, which is responsible for this issue, is taking steps to contain the spread of the disease, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In addition, according to key sources, the announcement of the ASF outbreak in Haiti has prompted pig farmers to reduce their pig herds through excessive sales in anticipation of the potential impact of the epidemic on their income.

Livestock generally has a savings function in the Haitian peasant economy. The Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development estimated the pig population at 1.1 million in 2009 (Atlas Agricole 2009). Since then, the pig population has dropped to between 1 million and 800,000. The main pig production areas are in the southern region of the country (Figure 1), but the average number of pigs per household is highest in the southeast, particularly in the HT07 livelihood zone, where, prior to Tropical Depression Grace, this figure was around two pigs per household. According to the National Food Security and Nutrition Survey (ENSSAN) 2021, the impact of Tropical Depression Grace has reduced the average number of pigs per household in this region to 0.82 pigs compared with a national average that has fallen from 0.73 pigs per household to 0.55 pigs.

Increase in fuel prices. Since June, when gangs began to fight in Port-au-Prince, the blocking of the main roads (Martissant, Varreux, and others) prevented the distribution of gasoline at various stations in the Haitian capital and in provincial towns. The resulting artificial scarcity, in addition to higher fuel prices on the international market, has led to a rise in the price of this strategic product on the parallel market. For example, the price of a gallon of gasoline on the informal market has spiked since September. As of 25 October, it was selling for up to 3,000 gourdes in some places, while the price on the formal market was 201 gourdes per gallon. This situation has become even worse in two respects.

On the one hand, criminal gang activity has increased since September, making public transport almost impossible on some roads and blocking access to gas stations and fuel ports. On the other hand, the new rise in fuel prices on the international market has further increased the fuel bill for the Haitian state, which already has significant deficits of more than 21 billion gourdes by subsidizing the price of fuel during the 2020/2021 fiscal year. According to the Minister of Economy and Finance, the higher fuel prices on the international market have increased the cost of importing fuel to Haiti, which has brought the Haitian state’s bill for fuel subsidies to more than 30 billion gourdes, a rise of approximately 43 percent compared with the previous fiscal year (Haïti Économie). Against this background, fuel continues to be scarce on the Haitian market, which is contributing to the strikes and protests observed in recent days across the country.

Depreciation of the gourde. After a sharp appreciation in September 2020 following successive injections of US currency into the banking market, the gourde/dollar exchange rate appreciated rapidly from November 2020. The depreciation of the national currency was slow at first, but accelerated from April 2021. The Haitian Central Bank was unable to intervene to contain the situation because of the drastic erosion of its net foreign exchange reserves. Consequently, and exacerbated by the sociopolitical crisis, the gourde/dollar exchange rate depreciated by nearly 46 percent between October 2020 and October 2021, with the US dollar trading at 98.93 gourdes compared with 62.59 gourdes in October 2020 (Figure 2).

The COVID-19 pandemic. Since the discovery of two new COVID-19 variants in Haiti – Mu and Delta, both known to be highly contagious – an increase in the number of infections has been observed. According to the Ministry of Public Health and Population, 23,042 cases were recorded by 11 October, an increase of more than 42 percent compared with June. Deaths also increased by almost half, from 333 people in June to 657 in the same period.

This resurgence comes against the backdrop of little progress in the vaccination process, which began in July 2021. As of mid-October, 27,035 people have been vaccinated. This is less than 0.3 percent of the population and represents 5.4 percent of the available vaccines. As the expiry date of these vaccines approaches in November 2021, the Haitian authorities are therefore considering returning the remaining stock or passing it on to other countries in the region, as the Haitian population is very reluctant to be vaccinated.

This trend has prompted some health officials to declare a fourth COVID-19 wave in the country. Nevertheless, there are no new restrictions yet, except to warn the population about the danger of the situation and the need to maintain barrier and social distancing measures, mask wearing, and so on.

The sociopolitical context. The current political crisis has escalated significantly following the assassination of President Moïse in July 2021, culminating in further political unrest. Despite the peaceful transfer of power to Ariel Henry, whom Moïse appointed as Prime Minister a day before his assassination, and Henry’s subsequent agreement with civil society groups to organize presidential elections, various political factions continue to vie for power. In addition, calls for strikes protesting the deteriorating security climate and fuel scarcity on the Haitian market further disrupted the formal and informal economies for almost two weeks in the country’s major cities, particularly the capital (Figure 3).

The renewed upsurge in gang-related criminal activity and kidnappings targeting churches and civil society leaders, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is likely to cause a further deterioration in the country’s security situation (Figure 4). Clashes between rival gangs in the Martissant, Croix-des-Bouquets, Laboule 12, Cité Soleil, Bel Air, Torcelle, and Fontamara neighborhoods have resulted in the displacement of approximately 19,000 people since June. All of this is causing disruption to public transport and markets, resulting in significant shortages of basic commodities and fuel.

Compounding already high levels of insecurity in the capital, the country is also grappling with the effects of the major earthquake that devastated several areas in the south on 14 August 2021. Although armed gangs had promised safe passage for aid workers and earthquake victims through Martissant, a major transportation hub from the capital to the affected areas, roadblocks and attacks on convoys reportedly increased in late August, before decreasing in September due to reduced humanitarian traffic.

Rainfall conditions and impact on agricultural production. From the third dekad of August to the third dekad of September, rainfall was 40 percent below average. In some departments, particularly Nord-Ouest and Sud-Est, dekadal rainfall was more than 50 percent below average. The third dekad of August had the lowest rainfall deficit compared with the average. Rainfall was more than 60 percent below average in eight departments (all except Grand’Anse and Nippes) and more than 70 percent below average in five (Centre, Nord, Nord-Est, Ouest, and Sud-Est).

As a result of this irregular spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, the soil has not been able to maintain a sufficient level of moisture to ensure the normal growth and development of short-cycle seasonal crops such as beans and maize. However, the most water-stress-resistant crops with a relatively longer cycle, such as banana, sweet potato, and tubers, survived this period of scarce rainfall and maintained an average vegetation index during the period (Figures 5 and 6).

In addition to the poor weather conditions, the residual effects of the earthquake on the production infrastructure and on the crops being grown in the Sud, Grand’Anse, and Nippes departments, and the impact of flooding associated with Tropical Depression Grace in the Sud-Est department adversely affected agricultural performance in the summer and fall. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development crop losses were greatest in the Sud-Est department, particularly in the case of pigeon pea, maize and especially bean crops, which experienced declines of 20, 30 and 45 percent respectively. Across all regions, the impact has been greatest on the agricultural and fisheries sectors.

Markets and prices. During September, markets functioned normally, with the exception of those in Croix des Bossales and Croix-des-Bouquets, respectively located in downtown Port-au-Prince and in the commune of Croix-des-Bouquets, areas plagued by the criminal activities of armed gangs. These activities, having paralyzed the normal functioning of these markets, have led to a decrease in demand, negatively impacting the prices of basic food products. Overall, prices of local products, particularly maize and beans, have fallen nationally by an average of 2.5 and 3 percent, respectively, especially in the Grand Sud region, where markets have resumed normal operations after being partially destroyed by the earthquake. This trend is attributed to the summer harvests observed, even though these were below normal. For markets located in the areas hard hit by the earthquake, the decline observed is still the result of a decrease in demand due, in particular, to the influx of emergency humanitarian aid for victims, which has increased the availability of food in beneficiary households. In addition, bean and maize prices have fallen significantly from last year’s levels, but remain atypically high compared to the five-year average.

Prices of imported products continue to rise, but to a greater or lesser extent (Figure 7). The price of imported rice has been relatively stable, falling by less than 1 percent in September, compared with August.

Prices for other products, such as edible oil and wheat flour, continued on an upward trend in September, though to a lesser extent than in August, by an average of 1 and 4 percent, respectively, at the national level.

Livestock conditions. Thanks to the October rains, which made water and fodder available, the physical condition of livestock is generally normal. However, the sector has been severely affected by the floods caused by Tropical Depression Grace, particularly with regard to goats.

Agricultural labor and other sources of income. Income from the sale of labor is limited due to the low hiring capacity of the wealthier, owing to the residual impacts of various climatic, sociopolitical, and economic shocks that have reduced their ability to invest in labor. With very little harvested produce at the moment (since the normal harvest period for the whole country is July), income from agricultural labor is very insignificant at present. The sale of wood and charcoal is roughly normal, although households are having to step up their efforts to access these resources, which are gradually becoming scarcer. Poor households in urban areas earn income from petty trade, which is still below average due to sociopolitical unrest, clashes between armed gangs and declining demand backed by purchasing power. Income from migrants in the Dominican Republic, an important source of income for poor households in the border areas, remains below average due to the prevalence of COVID-19 and other migration control measures in neighboring territories and other regions (Mexico, the Bahamas, etc.), which have resulted in mass deportations in recent months.

Impact on food security. From September to October, poor households’ access to food deteriorated. Against a background of poor summer and fall harvests, high prices above the five-year average, below-average incomes, sociopolitical unrest, which is having a negative impact on the supply of certain markets, and fuel scarcity, with its direct effect on product prices, the purchasing power of poor households has deteriorated as they are forced to make a trade-off between educational and food expenses.

In some areas, such as the lower Nord-Ouest region, central Haut-Plateau, poor urban areas, dry areas, and earthquake-affected areas that received little or no assistance, households are facing crisis or emergency strategies, such as selling more charcoal and livestock, and consuming seeds and foods with low nutritional value to maintain their current consumption. These areas are therefore facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

In areas less affected by climatic shocks, apart from the impact of political instability and insecurity, and in irrigated areas, households are resorting to stressed strategies, such as reducing non-essential expenditure, increasing food purchases on credit, consuming non-preferred food, and reducing adult consumption in favor of children to maintain their current consumption. They are therefore Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Some areas that were affected by the earthquake, but which have received and continue to receive food assistance that covers a good part of their food needs, are now Stressed ! (IPC Phase 2!).

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario from April to September 2021 is based on the following underlying assumptions regarding national trends:

Rainfall and agroclimatology

  • According to United States Geological Survey (USGS) forecasts, below-average precipitation is expected between August and December 2021.
  • From January onward, normal conditions, characterized by low rainfall, will be observed until March 2022.
  • From October to May, above-average and average temperatures are expected.
  • Based on forecasts by many institutions, above-average cyclone activity is still expected through November.

Impact of the earthquake

  • The losses (agricultural, livestock, property, human life) caused by the earthquake on 14 August 2021 and Tropical Depression Grace, and recorded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development in the southern part of the country will continue to have negative impacts throughout the scenario period in various areas of the economy: agriculture (decrease in cultivated areas, loss of seeds), a decrease in hiring due to the closure of businesses, and a slowdown in fishing, livestock, and other activities.
  • COVID-19
  • As of 11 October, the COVID-19 situation analysis shows an increase in new cases, a low vaccination rate, and the possibility of new waves.
  • The vaccination campaign will continue, but coverage will remain low.
  • Based on the trends observed in 2021, it is likely that no new measures against COVID-19 will be implemented despite the volatility in case numbers.

Sociopolitical situation

  • The sociopolitical uncertainty following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is expected to lead to increased unrest, protests, and violence associated with the general elections, which have been postponed until November 2021.
  • Haiti’s security environment has further deteriorated since June due to a new upsurge in gang-related criminal activity and kidnappings, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince. It is likely that these high levels of gang violence will continue at current levels throughout the outlook period, and will likely increase during holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Carnival.

Humanitarian assistance.

  • The new challenges created by the earthquake on 14 August suggest that humanitarian assistance will continue to flow and will be concentrated in the three affected departments, particularly the Sud department.

Macroeconomic context

  • The significant contraction of net official foreign exchange reserves means that the Haitian Central Bank will be unable to intervene on the foreign exchange market to contain the gradual depreciation of the gourde. As such, the exchange rate will continue along the same upward trend recorded since the first quarter of 2021, maintained by sociopolitical instability and the negligible impact of possible Central Bank measures. This will exacerbate the rise in imported food product prices, even in the context of a favorable international cereal market, particularly in the case of rice.
  • Exports, which are already insignificant, will not be able to compensate for the erosion of the Central Bank’s net foreign exchange reserves.
  • Inflation will continue over the scenario period and will track the exchange rate trend, especially for imported goods.
  • Transfers will follow their seasonal upward trend between October 2021 and January 2022, which will help supply the market with currency and slow the depreciation of the gourde. However, the influx of transfers due to the earthquake will increase transfers above the normal level.
  • The upward trend in international oil prices and the “additional fiscal pressure” that it places on the public budget, may lead to the end of oil product subsidies in Haiti. As a result, prices at the pump will inevitably surge, leading to increases in public transport costs and, consequently, a rise in the price of basic food and non-food products on the various local markets.

Agricultural production

  • In the fall 2021, winter 2021–2022, and spring 2022 growing seasons, seed availability will be below normal due to a decrease in seed support from major organizations, which will be more concentrated in the areas most affected by the 14 August 2021 earthquake, irregular rainfall, and other factors.
  • Crop production for the fall 2021 and winter 2021–2022 seasons will therefore be below average.
  • Due to the impact of the earthquake, particularly on livelihoods, activities marking the start of the spring 2022 growing season may be below average in the areas affected by the earthquake (Grand’Anse, Nippes, and Sud) and by Tropical Depression Grace (Sud-Est), given that farmers have sold off their assets following these two shocks.

Sources of income

  • ASF, diagnosed in the Dominican Republic in July, is now present in Haiti, despite the restrictive measures announced to stop it spreading. Due to the Haitian Government’s lack of monitoring capacity/territorial management and taking into account the porous nature of the Haitian-Dominican border and the trend of anticipated deaths in the Dominican Republic, Haiti is expected to lose 30 percent of its national livestock over the next eight months.
  • Trade and migration flows between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are likely to be restricted by the Haitian Government following the ASF diagnosis in the Dominican Republic. In addition, the Dominican Government will strengthen border security due to the sociopolitical unrest in Haiti. Income from Haitian migrants to the Dominican Republic will therefore remain lower than normal.
  • Income from the sale of agricultural products will be below average due to below-average harvests.

Other sources of income

  • In the current context, the sale of charcoal and petty trade (agricultural and non-agricultural) will follow normal trends during the outlook period.

Prices and markets

  • Market supplies should be normal, but with sporadic gaps in Port-au-Prince due to the sociopolitical situation and possible barrier measures at the Haitian-Dominican border. These sporadic gaps, resulting from the actions (control of certain areas) of armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, will limit the movement of goods and cause the closure of warehouses in other provincial cities.
  • The prices of staple foods, especially imported products, will continue to rise and remain above prices in 2020 and the five-year average, due to the depreciation of the gourde against the dollar and the Dominican peso.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes 

From October 2021 to January 2022, given the unfavorable agro-climatic conditions forecast for this period, fall production will be below average, leading to below-normal agricultural income.

The food insecurity of poor households will also be exacerbated by possible losses of pig livestock due to ASF. According to FEWS NET baseline information, in all livelihood zones, most poor households own between 0 and 2 pigs. Based on the FEWS NET assumption of a 30 percent decline in pig sales (corresponding to the loss of 30 percent of a herd due to ASF-related deaths), the largest percentage change in a household’s calorie consumption was a 2 percent loss of kilocalories among very poor households in the Western Banana Plains of Arcahaie livelihood zone (HT05).

In addition, the areas affected by the earthquake and Tropical Depression Grace (Sud, Nippes, Grand’Anse and Sud-Est) may also experience below-normal harvests, resulting in below-average incomes. The poorest households will still have to resort mainly to crisis strategies (such as increased charcoal sales, consumption of food with low nutritional quality or early consumption of food) and stressed strategies (such as reducing the quantity and quality of their diet or purchasing on credit) to maintain their level of food consumption. These areas will therefore experience Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3). Some of these areas will continue to receive food assistance, which will cover a good part of their food needs until February 2022, meaning they will be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).

The period from February to May 2022 coincides with the peak of the winter harvest, the start of spring 2022 growing season activities and the lean season. Households will procure most of their supplies from markets, with the lean season set to experience a significant reduction in harvesting activities. The residual effect of below-average summer/fall and winter growing seasons in 2021, leading to farmers selling off their assets, means that there is reduced investment capacity, which could impact preparations for the 2022 spring growing season. The income of the poorest households will once again be below average.

In addition, the already very unstable sociopolitical situation is likely to deteriorate, leading to the depreciation of the gourde. A rise in the price of imported staple foods, coupled with seasonal price increases during the lean season, will further reduce poor households’ purchasing power. Under these conditions, such households will have to continue to resort to negative coping strategies to meet their food needs. As a result, most areas of the country will experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. 

Events that could change the scenario

Area

Event

Impact on food security outcomes

National

Easing of sociopolitical unrest

A reduction in violence would lead to the functioning of the economy and markets. This would lead to an increase in food availability and access, enabling more households to adopt fewer negative coping strategies. Thus, fewer areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

National

A fundamental deterioration of the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

The possibility of a serious deterioration in the health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic should force the Government to take drastic measures to limit the normal functioning of markets, as well as informal and night-time activities. This would likely increase the number of people and areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

National

Loss of all pigs at the national level

The possibility of a systematic slaughter of pigs, as happened in 1978, is likely to have adverse effects not only on farmers’ and sellers’ incomes, but also on other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, trade, and education. In addition, a 100 percent decline in pig sales due to ASF-related deaths would result in a greater variation in calories consumed per household. This would represent a loss of 6 percent of kilocalories among very poor households in the Western Banana Plains of Arcahaie livelihood zone (HT05), for example.

Production areas

Above-average hurricane season

Flooding in rice, maize, and bean production areas could cause significant losses of spring, summer and fall crops and harvests. This would damage the livelihoods of poorer households, especially during the first four months of the outlook period.

Production areas

A drought episode

Water shortages could affect seasonal crops, cause a considerable reduction in fodder and water available for livestock, and delay the start of the 2022 spring growing season. This would also damage the livelihoods of poorer households and reduce demand for agricultural labor.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more 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