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Political crisis and insecurity drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, impacting both the economy and the livelihoods of households

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Haiti
  • April 2024
Political crisis and insecurity drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, impacting both the economy and the livelihoods of households

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2024
  • Key Messages
    • Insecurity worsened in March compared to February, further heightening deficits in food consumption among poor households and unexpectedly increasing the number of people in need compared to February. In April, acute food security outcomes have not improved compared to March due to the ongoing political crisis and insecurity, which continue to impact the economy and disrupt the livelihoods of poor households. These households continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in most of the country, while Cité Soleil and pockets of very poor households located in other communes of the metropolitan area that are plagued by violence continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity. Due to spring harvests, some areas may transition from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in June. However, the number of people needing food aid during the projected period is not expected to significantly decrease.
    • The supply chain and market operations continue to be disrupted due to deteriorating security, with a more than 30 percent increase nationwide between February and March in the number of violent events and deaths related to gang violence, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince (ACLED, April 2024). While some improvement may have been observed in the operation of the country's main port in Port-au-Prince in April, gang violence prompted its temporary closure in March, resulting in access challenges and sporadic maritime operations. As reported by Le Nouvelliste, the number of ships docking between late 2023 and March 2024 has decreased by approximately 50 percent.
    • Illegal levies imposed by gangs are limiting access to the country's largest oil terminal, disrupting the flow of fuel distribution to gas stations. This situation has led to the sale of fuel in the informal market at prices exceeding the normal rates by over 50 percent, especially in provincial cities.
    • The rise in fuel prices, both at gas stations and in the informal market, is contributing to keeping prices of basic foodstuffs high compared to last year and the five-year average. 
    • A slight improvement in rainfall distribution was observed in April. However, this improvement is unlikely to have a significant impact on the July harvests due to the absence of support for farmers who lack the capacity to invest, the high costs of agricultural inputs, and delays in soil preparation and planting activities for this year's spring farming season.

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical situation: The security situation described in the February food security outlook deteriorated significantly in March, with a slight improvement in April compared to March. Gang violence has reached record levels in both frequency and intensity. According to ACLED, the number of violent events and deaths increased by more than 30 percent between February and March. This violence is most heavily concentrated in the Ouest department, mainly in the Port-au-Prince district, where the municipalities of Port-au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouquets, Carrefour, Tabarre, and Pétion-Ville (Frères, Torcel, Pernier) have been the epicenter of gang violence since January 2024 (Figure 1). In addition, insecurity linked to gang violence is forcing more and more people to flee their areas of residence, thereby increasing the number of internally displaced persons. According to IOM, the number of internally displaced persons from January to April 9 has increased from around 314,000 to over 362,000, marking a 15 percent rise during this period. Also according to the IOM, nearly 95,000 people left the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince (ZMPP) between March 8 and April 9. More than 60 percent had already been displaced more than once within the area before leaving it. Key informants confirmed that newly displaced persons are mainly heading for Grand Sud departments such as Grand'Anse, Sud, Nippes, and Sud-Est, with the Grand Nord (Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest), Artibonite (Gonaïves) and Centre receiving a smaller share of displaced persons from the ZMPP. In all these regions, there is already an increase in demand for residential housing, the price of which is starting to rise due to low availability.

    Figure 1

    Violent events in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area (January-March 2024)
    This map shows violent events in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area (January-March 2024)

    Source: FEWS NET, with ACLED data

    Fuel scarcity: Access to the main oil storage terminal in Cité Soleil is limited due to extortion tactics and gang violence. This impacts the supply of gas stations in the capital as well as in provincial cities, leading to an increase in gasoline prices. Consequently, the illegal sale of fuel at prices higher than those set by the government has been observed, even at gas stations, where a gallon is being sold at more than 40 percent above the government-set price. Outside gas stations, a gallon of gasoline is being sold at more than 100 percent above the government-set price. Outside of the capital, gasoline prices are skyrocketing, with fuel distributions slowing down across the country. The cost of a gallon of gasoline ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 HTG. This situation impacts the pricing of basic commodities and the functioning of markets, which are already disrupted by armed gangs.

    Markets and prices: The deteriorating security situation due to the intensification of gang violence continues to disrupt market supply chains both in the capital and in provincial cities. Both formal and informal economic activities have significantly slowed down to the escalation of clashes between armed groups and law enforcement, the looting of several food storage centers in the downtown area of the capital, a reduction of around 50 percent between late 2023 and March 2024 in the number of ships docking at one of the country's largest ports (as reported by Le Nouvelliste), the closure of the international airport, and constraints on accessing the main routes connecting major markets (Figures 2 and 3). The markets in downtown Port-au-Prince are shifting towards Upper Delmas and Pétion-Ville, as well as along the airport road. However, on a national scale, prices of staple food items tracked in key markets (such as imported rice, cooking oil, and wheat flour and local black beans) have remained relatively steady month-over-month, although at very high levels compared to last year and the five-year average.

    Figure 2

    Map of market operations in Haiti, March 2024
    This map shows market operations in Haiti, March 2024

    Source: : FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Map of market operations in the Haitian capital, March 2024
    This map shows market operations in the Haitian capital, March 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    In March, prices of imported rice (4 percent broken) and local black beans experienced minimal fluctuations at the national level, varying approximately by 3 percent and -1 percent, respectively. The price of imported rice increased in Gonaives (17 percent), Cayes (more than 13 percent), and Cap Haitien (more than 10 percent). Wheat flour decreased by more than 2 percent during the same period, while the price of cooking oil fell by about 10 percent. 

    The price of local grain maize rose by 6 percent between February and March as a result of its limited availability due to the planting season. The price increased in almost all regional markets, particularly Jérémie (21 percent), Les Cayes (18 percent), Hinche, Ouanaminthe, and Port-au-Prince (between 10 and 12 percent). 

    In year-on-year comparison (March 2024 compared to March 2023), prices of local grain maize, wheat flour, and vegetable oil decreased, while the price of local black beans remains stable; however, the price of imported rice has increased by 12 percent between March 2023 and March 2024. Prices of all basic foodstuffs remain atypically above their five-year average (Figure 4).

    Figure 4

    Change in the average price in gourdes of basic cereals, wheat flour, and black beans, January 2019 to March 2024é et du haricot noir, janvier 2019 à mars 2024
    Évolution des prix des céréales Haiti

    Source: FEWS NET

    Despite the dysfunction of the country's main port, imported food products, especially imported rice, are available on the market, even in Port-au-Prince. According to some key contacts, the port receives foodstuffs, including rice, every three months. Thus, the capital's markets, including Canapé vert, Pétion-Ville, and Delmas, among others, are supplied and operate more or less normally. There are occasional disruptions, but not at the same level as at Croix-des-Bossales and Croix-des-Bouquets, which are almost non-functional (Figure 3).

    In addition, ports in other regions of the country (such as Cap-Haïtien in Nord, Port-de-Paix in Nord-Ouest, and Miragoane in Nippes) are open and receive imported products as usual. This allows certain imported products (rice, oil, flour) to be available in the country. Importers are taking advantage of the insecurity on national roads to slightly increase the prices of basic products in other regions of the country, especially in Grand Sud, where food inflation is the highest. According to the latest IPC bulletin from the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information (IHSI), the annual inflation rate at the national level was 23 percent in February (compared to 19 percent in January). The highest level of inflation was in Grand Sud, where it reached approximately 25 percent, followed by the Sud-Est department, where annual inflation exceeded 24 percent. Route Nationale 2 leading to this region is the one containing the most toll barriers imposed by gangs, from Ruelle Alerte, through Martissant, Fontamara, Tuitier, to Mariani (Palomam), totaling five out of the 13 imposed by armed gangs along the main road axes, according to combined data from the Syndicate Unified Movement of Haitian Transporters (MUTH) and the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH).

    According to the monthly rice bulletin Info Aroz No. 241 published in early April 2024, global rice prices began to decrease by an average of 1.5 percent at the end of March due to the arrival of new harvests in the global market, especially in key Asian countries. These internal and external factors, combined with the stability of the exchange rate at 132 HTG/USD, explain the very small fluctuations in the price of imported food products, in particular rice, cooking oil, and wheat flour in the Haitian markets, except in a few departments (Nord-Est and Grand Sud).

    Sources of income: The results of the off-farm income survey conducted in January 2024 by FEWS NET revealed a downward trend compared to a normal year in the availability of the main sources of income. According to the survey, insecurity is the main reason for the overall decline in sources of income and the associated work opportunities. 

    Rainfall conditions and agricultural season progress: According to NOAA data up to the first 10 days of April, rainfall has been below normal in most agroecological zones of the country. Farmers took advantage of the recent rainfall in April to sow their already plowed lands. Thus, planting activities are occurring in agroecological regions such as the Grand Sud, Nord, Nord-Est, and Nord-Ouest departments (with the exception of the Bas Nord-Ouest). In Nippes, Artibonite, and Centre, rainfall is still delayed, while farmers have prepared their land. However, planting operations are taking place at a lower level than usual due to the lack of assistance for farmers lacking the capacity to invest, the high cost of agricultural inputs (especially seeds), and delays in soil preparation activities for this year's spring farming campaign. 

    Meanwhile, seasonal and typical local products such as roots and tubers (especially in the mountains of Nord-Est, Nord, and Grand'Anse), vegetables, beans, whole corn (during the winter harvest), and rice are observed in regional markets. However, higher-than-average prices are limiting poor households’ access to these products.

    Spread of cholera: Since September 1, 2022, 1,266 cholera-related deaths have been recorded as of April 6, 2024, according to the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), representing an increase of approximately 8 percent since January 30, 2024 (1,172 deaths). During this period (from January 30 to April 6), only 1,336 new tests have been conducted. These statistics could significantly underestimate the true scale of the situation, particularly in disadvantaged communities and slums, where testing is hampered by various factors, such as insecurity and inadequate sanitary infrastructures. The three departments most affected by this epidemic, in descending order, remain Ouest, Centre and Artibonite.

    Food aid: Targeting and distributing emergency food aid remains difficult due to limited resources and insecurity related to gang violence. But efforts are already being made by humanitarian aid organizations, particularly the WFP. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), WFP has been able to provide 8,525 hot meals to displaced people in the ZMPP as of April 19. As part of its emergency response, it has also provided 22.5 tons of in-kind food to 2,000 people in Cap-Haïtien and nearly 265,000 USD in cash transfers to 10,485 people in Les Gonaïves. The WFP also distributed school meals to more than 217,000 schoolchildren across the country and nearly 150,000 USD to 19,315 people as part of its social protection activities. Nevertheless, this assistance does not reach a sufficiently large proportion of the population, and information is not available on the frequency of distributions. According to the working group on cash transfers, the priority needs in host sites are first food (93 percent), drinking water (55 percent), and health care (49 percent), followed by shelter and livelihood support (33 percent and 32 percent respectively).

    Current food security outcomes 

    The February FEWS NET Food Security Outlook report projected that insecurity and violence related to armed gang activity would continue until September 2024. However, the level of violence observed in March, particularly in the ZMPP, was even higher than our expectations. The various sources of income remain below average amid inflation exceeding 20 percent. According to the latest IHSI estimate in February, annual inflation stands at 23 percent, the highest level among Caribbean countries. Market dysfunction in the ZMPP has hindered supplies, while purchasing power has deteriorated and so has food consumption.

    Although the security situation improved somewhat in April compared to March, ongoing insecurity continues to impact market supply, livelihoods, and the prices of basic foodstuffs, among other things. The result is a deterioration in food security compared to what was described in the February outlook report. As a result, the number of people in need increased in March, but remained relatively stable in April due to the relative stability that allowed households to move to functioning markets to obtain supplies, particularly in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

    The majority of areas in the country remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and continue to adopt coping strategies such as consuming seeds and low-nutrient foods not typically eaten. However, the municipality of Cité Soleil and pockets of very poor households plagued by violence in other neighborhoods of the metropolitan area continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    calendrier saisonnier

    Source: FEWS NET

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions in the February to September 2024 Food Security Outlook report remain unchanged, with the exception of the updated assumptions below:

    • After the higher-than-expected levels of violence in March, overall insecurity is expected to slightly improve, although remaining at levels above the five-year average.
    • Prices for most imported products will continue to be higher than those of last year and the past five years. 
    • As spring planting begins, local prices of yellow maize and dry black beans will increase until May. Starting in June in anticipation of the spring harvest in July, prices are expected to drop until September.
    • Fuel scarcity, limited access to gas stations, and black market sales of fuel are likely to exacerbate ongoing food insecurity by increasing transportation prices and thus indirectly impacting the prices of goods across the country.
    • High temperatures and erratic rainfall are expected to reduce soil moisture during the early stages of crop growth

    Projected Outlook through September 2024

    The primary determinants of acute food insecurity, including insecurity, inflation, and lack of employment opportunities, are not expected to significantly change up to September. The food security situation currently described (in April) should remain unchanged overall, despite the slight improvement expected from June and July in the availability of local agricultural products (beans, maize, rice) from the spring harvest. Local food availability will increase slightly, which will likely drive prices downward. The number of people in need of food aid is not expected to change significantly, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes are expected to remain widespread in the country until September. Some areas currently in Crisis, at the borderline with Stressed (IPC Phase 2), may transition to Phase 2 starting in June, However, the number of people requiring food aid is not likely to significantly change. In the ZMPP, the current security situation is likely to slightly improve during the projected period, which will lead to a gradual resumption of informal activities. Therefore, although food insecurity outcomes are unlikely to significantly improve, they are not expected to deteriorate. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will persist in Cité Soleil.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Haiti Food Security Outlook Update April 2024: Political crisis and insecurity drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, impacting both the economy and the livelihoods of households, 2024.

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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