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Despite a brief respite, drought will keep some households in Crisis through August

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Haiti
  • May 2013
Despite a brief respite, drought will keep some households in Crisis through August

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Partner
    MARNDR/CNSA
    Key Messages
    • Many municipalities will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through August/September. The protracted drought and lack of seeds have delayed the planting of crops, putting farming activities behind schedule. The most affected areas are the Southern Peninsula, the Central Plateau, and the North.

    • With the lean season underway and the high price of food, affordability for poor households continues to pose a problem. The situation is exacerbated by the limited employment options and self-employment opportunities, particularly in rural areas where the agricultural sector is the largest employer.

    • Contributors to improving household livelihoods in many areas are the food distribution by the government, international organizations, and NGOS in certain parts of the country, the mango harvest, and the picking of beans and breadfruits. 


    Current Situation
    • As of mid May, rains were delayed in many parts of the country and local farmers were unable to plant their fields. The main areas affected include several municipalities on the Southern Peninsula such as Paillant, Petite Rivière-de-Nippes, Anse-à-Veau, and Petit-Trou-de-Nippe and a number of municipalities in the North, in Central Plateau, and in the Northeast.
    • Crops in certain municipalities in the West, the North, and on the Southern Peninsula, where the February/March rains gave rise to early planting activities, were lost as a result of the ensuing drought in March and April. Farmers replanted their maize crops but not their bean crops.
    • Various farming activities such as weeding and land preparation are underway in rice-growing areas of the Artibonite. The Artibonite River, which was very low in April, is once again beginning to flow normally with the late seasonal rains in May. Established rice paddies on the rice-growing Maribaroux plains in the Northeast are at only approximately half their normal size due to the lack of water.
    • Households in certain parts of the Southeast, Central Plateau, Gonâve, and Grand ’Anse have received over 1200 metric tons of food and more than 100 metric tons of seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture, NGOs, and international organizations. However, with most farmers unable to secure enough seeds to meet their needs, area planted has been reduced to only about 85 percent as compared to normal. The effect will be much larger crop production shortfalls, especially given the recent string of droughts.
    • Farmers in areas with delayed rains are planting maize, but consider it too late to successfully plant beans.
    • There have been near-average levels of rainfall in certain parts of the Northwest, Nippes, the South, the North, and the Artibonite, where the bean harvest is already underway and the outlook for maize is quite promising. However, these successes will not make up for the reported losses in the rest of the country.
    • With the lean season fully underway, market purchase is the main source of food. Market prices for imported foods remain high and certain locally grown foods are in short supply and are also extremely expensive. The price of locally grown ground maize, for example, increased 18 percent in Port-au-Prince and by as much as 83 percent in Jérémie between March and April. On the other hand, the ongoing bean harvest has stabilized prices in Cap-Haitien and Jérémie.
    • The government has been selling Vietnamese rice on the market to stabilize prices, now accounting for more than 20 percent of the cost of the household food basket. Though its price is extremely affordable, the sale of this rice has not yet had any significant effect on prices of other imported foods.
    • This tension on domestic markets could be eased by the beginning of the harvest of breadfruits and yams in the Northwest and the plentiful supplies of sweet potatoes in the North in June. However, the abundance of mangos, which are already starting to be harvested in many parts of the country and which serve as a source of both food and income for poor households, could have the biggest positive effect on markets. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has prompted the following changes in the assumptions made by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013.

    • The harvest of spring crops will be approximately 20 to 25 percent less than compared to an average crop year (2009 for example). Harvests will be staggered over a much longer span of time instead of taking place in July as is typical, and could continue into September in areas where crops were not planted until May, which will prolong the lean season in affected areas even further.
    • The main NGOs active in the Southeast, the South, and on the Central Plateau have already announced major cutbacks or the suspension of their field operations in these areas as of the end of June this year. Normal services for pregnant and breast-feeding women and malnourished children, for example, are liable to be scaled back significantly.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013
    • The low levels of rainfall, the lack of seeds, and the suspension of NGO programs in certain areas will significantly further limit food access for poor households, for which there will be fewer employment opportunities. These households will remain market-dependent until the next round of harvests at the end of August. Food prices are above last year’s and the depreciation of the Haitian gourde will only exacerbate the situation.
    • The lean period will be longer than usual for households in areas where the planting of crops got off to a late start. Beginning in February/March, a full month ahead of schedule, this year’s lean season could extend through the month of August, when crops currently being planted will be ready for harvesting. Expected harvests between June and August will be less prolific than usual and the smaller crop area planted will reduce the availability of locally grown foods. This will heighten the market-dependence of poor households in rural areas.
    • The purchasing power of poor households will steadily decline, particularly in certain municipalities on the Southern Peninsula, in the North, and on the Central Plateau. These households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through August/September, which is when the next harvest is expected to begin in these areas.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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