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In addition to insecurity and inflation, drought worsens food insecurity in Haiti

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • February - September 2023
In addition to insecurity and inflation, drought worsens food insecurity in Haiti

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern
  • Key Messages
    • The economic impact of gang violence, reduced purchasing power due to high inflation, and below-average crop production due to poor rainfall are significantly limiting poor households’ access to income and sufficient food. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes are projected to remain widespread across the country, with some households in rural areas of the North-West, Grand’Anse, and South experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes. Cité Soleil—the most affected area in Port-au-Prince—is likely to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) if gang violence continues to prevent access to humanitarian aid and to significantly disrupt subsistence economic activities.

    • Below-average rainfall between September and December 2022 resulted in below-average fall and winter harvests for most of the country, particularly in the irrigated plains and the humid mountains of the south. The first rainy season in April and May 2023 is also below average, which is likely to result in a below-average spring harvest in June and July. Domestic agricultural production is usually around 20 percent of the annual food requirements of poor and very poor households, so the decreased availability of rice, maize, tubers, and bananas is compounding the effect of  reduced purchasing power on household food consumption.

    • Imports account for half of all food consumption in Haiti, including around 80 percent of rice consumption. Alongside high global food and gas prices, the depreciation of the gourde (HTG), and illicit taxation by gangs on commercial routes, this heavy reliance on imports continues to drive increases in staple food prices and to reduce households’ access to food. According to the Central Bank of the Republic of Haiti, the HTG lost almost 33 percent of its value against the USD between February 2022 and February 2023, reaching 149 HTG/USD in February 2023. The price of staple food products is more than double the five-year average, while the price of maize and black beans (HTG per six pounds) is 60 to 70 percent higher than last year.

    • The sociopolitical situation has worsened considerably. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), gang-related incidents and deaths almost doubled between February 2022 and February 2023. As gangs seek to expand their territory, violence is characterized by civilian attacks and abductions, in particular in the North-West and Artibonite departments and in the capital Port-au-Prince, affecting the Cité Soleil, Croix des Bouquets, Martissant, and Petion-Vile areas in particular. Violence regularly disrupts commercial flows in affected rural areas and limits the ability of households to reach larger markets for trade or work, significantly constraining market operations and household access to income-generating activities.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Insecurity: The truce observed by several armed groups in metropolitan Port-au-Prince brought apparent calm between December 2002 and the start of January 2023, except in Petion-Ville, Croix-des-Bouquets, and the Bas Artibonite. Informal economic activities resumed, along with the flow of essential food and non-food goods between the capital and some regions, particularly the Great South However, the transportation of goods is subject to illegal tax payments imposed by the armed gangs who control the highway.

    The situation remains volatile due to the growing number of kidnappings and the increased presence of armed gangs surrounding the capital. Reports of violent incidents and deaths have almost doubled, increasing from 77 in February 2022 to 144 in February 2023, according to ACLED. Also, the number of violent incidents and deaths in February is close to 170 percent above the five-year average (Figure 1). Increased kidnappings and ongoing gang attempts to control more territories continue in Artibonite, the North-West, and particularly in the Haitian capital, where Martissant, Cité Soleil, Petion-Ville, and Croix des Bouquets are the most directly affected by market disruptions caused by the security crisis.

     

    Figure 1

    Violent incidents and deaths February 2022 to February 2023
    Violence incidents and deaths graphs

    Source: ACLED

    Fuel scarcity: Given the sharp depreciation of the exchange rate, private oil sector groups continue to call for an increase in gasoline prices to reflect the depreciation of the gourde, while fuel distribution problems persist nationwide. Only small improvements have been observed in the capital. The situation has led to an uptick in illegal sales of oil products at higher prices than those set by the government. The black-market price of a gallon of gasoline is around 1,000 HTG in the capital and 1,220 to 1,500 HTG in the rest of the country. The government-adjusted price of 570 HTG is not even observed at gas stations, where a gallon costs 750 HTG.

    Macroeconomic situation: Annual global inflation reached 48.3 percent in December 2022 and more than 49 percent in January 2023, according to the latest update from the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information (IHSI). Food and transportation costs are the main drivers of inflation (Figure 2).

    Figure 2

    Annual inflation rate by category January 2022 to January 2023
    Taux d'inflation annuelle

    Source: L'Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d'Informatique (IHSI)

    While food inflation remained between 40 and 50 percent from November 2022 to January 2023, transportation inflation rose rapidly, reaching more than 150 percent in November and around 121 percent in December 2022 and January 2023. This sharp increase is the result of the new prices set by the government (more than 50 percent) on all public transportation routes last November and the illegal payments charged by armed gangs on the main roads. Lack of regulation in the transportation sector leaves the country with the highest food and transportation costs in Central America and the Caribbean (Figure 3).

    Depreciation of the national currency is driving high inflation and is linked to low foreign exchange earnings and heavy reliance on imported goods. The gourde continued to depreciate in the first quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year. Between September 2022 and February 2023, it lost more than 20 percent of its value (Figure 4). Haiti’s high proportion of food imports, including more than 70 percent of cereals, means depreciation continues to drive up prices for staple food products.

    Figure 3

    Food inflation by country in percent January 2022 to January 2023
    Inflation alimentaire par pays

    Source: FEWS NET and Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d'Informatique (IHSI)

    Figure 4

    Change in the official exchange rate (USD/HTG)
    Evolution du taux de change

    Source: BRH

    Remittances, an important source of foreign currency for the Haitian economy, fell by an average of 5.4 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 (Figure 5). According to data from the Central Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH), the average monthly amount for Haitian migrant remittances between January and September 2022 was estimated at 264 million USD a month compared to 284.4 million USD for the same period in 2021. An increase of more than 63 percent was observed in December 2022 compared to October and November 2022. However, in the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, remittances maintained a downward trend of more than 11 percent on average over the holiday period. The BRH introduced regulations in September 2022 requiring transfer operators to pay beneficiaries in Haitian currency. This has reduced the value of remittances to Haiti, leading to a decrease in foreign exchange reserves and affecting the balance of payments stability.

    Figure 5

    Change in net remittances in USD Millions
    Évolution des transferts

    Source: BRH, janvier 2023

    Markets and prices: The January truce between rival gangs allowed economic activities to resume compared to the peak of insecurity recorded in 2022. This has generally allowed the functioning and supply of markets across the country. Markets are supplied with local and imported products such as maize, beans, rice, tubers, and market garden produce. According to a FEWS NET analysis of supply and demand for cereals in 2022/2023, rice production and imports will likely meet demand, but maize supplies will likely suffice for just 60 percent of demand and sorghum only 85 percent. Despite the January truce, gangs continue to operate in areas such as Petion-Ville, Croix-de-Bouquets, Canaan, Bas Antibonite, Bassin Bleu, and Gros Morne, and the supply of these markets is regularly disrupted. Gangs controlling National Road 2 to the Great South charge illegal fees for use of the road, and growing insecurity on National Road 1 at Canaan and Artibonite is disrupting public transportation and movement between the capital and the north of the country.

    Prices of local staple food products continue to climb sharply due to consecutive below-average harvests and increased transportation costs driven by high fuel costs and insecurity. The passage fees traders pay to cross gang-controlled areas are reflected in the selling prices of products, driving up retail prices.

    In February, the price of local produce fluctuated by more than 100 percent above the five-year average. The price of a six-pound pot of local maize grain has increased by almost 69 percent compared to last year, increasing from 215 HTG in February 2022 to around 427 HTG in February 2023, while local black beans have risen by almost 57 percent over the same period, going from 616 HTG to around 1,084 HTG. There are multiple factors driving this rise, notably higher production costs and a below-average harvest due to erratic rainfall. Compared to the average of the last five years, the price of these two local products in February fluctuated between 115 and 128 percent.

    As with local food products, the price of imported food has risen year on year in comparison with the five-year average, due mainly to inflation. The price of all types of rice is 103 percent above average for the month of February. A six-pound pot is currently sold at the market for 669 HTG, compared to 316 HTG in February 2022.

    Fall growing season: Government estimates for total agricultural production in Haiti are not available. However, remotely sensed data and field information indicate that fall crops will be below normal. Between September and December, below- average and poorly distributed rainfall negatively impacted autumn and winter crop growth in all regions. The lack of agricultural inputs, particularly seeds, and the high price of fertilizer have significantly reduced planted areas. Beans—usually produced in Haiti at levels that range from self-sufficiency to surplus—are one of the most affected crops. It should be noted that plantations in Bas Artibonite, Haiti’s largest area of rice production, have been subject not only to the effects of drought and violent winds in December and January but also to attacks by armed gangs that have forced farmers to flee production areas.

    Rainfall conditions: The country usually records an average rainfall of 10 millimeters in January and February. Although rainfall data at the beginning of January 2023 indicated a slight increase compared to average, particularly in the humid mountain areas, rainfall totals were below normal by the end of February. This has led to water deficits in the country’s production areas, including the North-West, South, South-East, Haut Artibonite, North-East, Haut Plateau, Nippes, and Grand’Anse, thus impacting the start of spring season activities.

    In the semi-humid mountains (South, Nippes, North-East, West) and irrigated areas, beans, maize, lagoon rice, roots, tubers, bananas, and sorghum were harvested in February. Despite the drought, and in anticipation of the first rains, soil preparation is underway throughout most of the country. The departments of the South and Grand’Anse usually begin their spring growing season in January and February, with the first rainy season in January. But this year, because of the late rains, it has not yet begun.

    Livestock conditions: In the semi-humid regions and those with close-to-normal rainfall, livestock conditions are stable thanks to the availability of water, feed, and veterinary care. The situation is different in areas impacted by drought since November, including the North-West, North-East, South, South-East, and Grand’Anse. Diseases such as Teshen (affecting pigs) and Newcastle disease (affecting poultry) are common in these regions. According to reports by key informants, there have been large numbers of deaths among these species, particularly in Grand’Anse in the communes of Corail, Anse-d’Hainaut, Dame-Marie and Irois, among others. However, there are no verified estimates of pig and poultry deaths.

    Sources of income: In rural areas, poor households mainly rely on income from labor, wood and charcoal sales, and fishing. Wood and charcoal sales, an important source of income particularly for poor households in the HT01 livelihood zone, are close to normal, although households are forced to intensify their efforts to access wood resources as these become increasingly scarce, particularly in Grand’Anse and the South.

    In fishing areas like the South Coast, North-East, Nippes, Grand'Anse, South-East and North-West, there is currently a seasonal slowdown in activities, leading to a decrease in the availability of fishery products. The sector is also facing a lack of adequate equipment, which could limit production and reduce incomes. This is particularly the case on the South Coast (Les Anglais, Port-à-Piment, Tiburon) as fishing equipment cannot be transported from Port-au-Prince because of insecurity on National Road 2.

    Income from agricultural labor was below average during the winter cropping season due to the reduced ability of better-off households to hire laborers and various climatic, sociopolitical, and economic shocks that reduced their capacity to invest. However, with preparations for the spring agricultural season underway, there is a seasonal increase in demand for labor in various locations. As a result, labor costs have increased, varying from 250 HTG to 700 HTG per day. Last year at this time, the cost of labor was between 200 HTG to 400 HTG per day. Nevertheless, because the increase in income from labor is not proportionate with the rate of inflation, the purchasing power of agricultural workers has declined. To meet their needs, poor and very poor households in areas where agriculture is the main source of income are turning to occasional subsistence and low-paying activities such as manual labor for construction. Some women do laundry for middle-income or better-off urban households.

    In urban areas, poor households derive their income from petty trade and casual labor (e.g., manual labor, baggage handling, non-motorized transport, waste and recycling collection, and laundry). Due to insecurity and the volatile sociopolitical context, incomes from these sources have below average, despite the resumption of informal activities. Migration to the Dominican Republic, an important source of income for poor households in the border areas, is below average due to large-scale deportations and migration control measures targeting Haitians.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In downtown Cité Soleil, the temporary resumption of economic activities has helped improve access to income for poor households in the short term, but the food and nutrition situation remains precarious. According to December calculations by the CNSA , the current cost of a food basket containing 1,800 kilocalories per person per day is over 28,000 HTG. The poorest households are unable to access this basket or reach the daily minimum of 2,100 kilocalories, which would cost them around 31,500 HTG on average. The increase in staple food prices is causing diet quality to plummet. Emergency coping strategies such as begging, placing children in domestic labor, and selling productive assets continue to be used to cope with food shortages. Poor households remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity. In the rest of metropolitan Port-au-Prince, poor households continue to engage in below-average income-generating activities and to resort to crisis strategies, facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    In the rest of the country, the recent harvests and the seasonal increase in agricultural labor and other income-generating activities are preventing a significant deterioration in acute food security levels. However, below-average fall and winter harvests and low household income have decreased access to food compared to the previous year. The ongoing sociopolitical crisis, civil insecurity jeopardizing the country’s economic stability, and inflation close to 50 percent are among the factors fueling food insecurity outcomes throughout the country. Poor and very poor households that typically depend on crop sales are increasing consumption of their own products to make up for deficits linked to decreased purchasing power. Those who make a living from agricultural labor and fishing are turning to other activities to meet their needs, such as non-agricultural work (laundry and domestic work in town), or adopting negative coping strategies to maintain acceptable food consumption levels. As a result, most of the country remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2). This situation applies to regions such as the West (Arcahaie, Fonds-Verrettes, Forêt-des-Pins, Kenskoff), North-West (apart from the communes of Baie de Henne, Bombardopolis and Mole Saint Nicolas), North-East, Center (Haut Plateau), South-East (Belle-Anse, Grand-Gosier), Artibonite, North (la Victoire, Pignon, Ranquite, Bahon), the communes on the South Coast (HT08), Nippes (HT01), and Grand’Anse (HT08).


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for February to September 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Rainfall and agroclimatology:

    • The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast below-average rainfall between February and May, with below-average temperatures.
    • Between June and August, rainfall will also be below average in the Center, West, South-East, Artibonite, and Nippes regions. Rainfall is forecasted to be close to normal in the rest of the country.

    Agricultural production:

    • Below-average fall and winter harvests meant farmers were unable to preserve seeds. They will be forced to buy them at high prices during the 2023 spring agricultural season. Buying seeds and other inputs (including labor, fertilizer, and fuel) at above-average prices in a sector that has received little public investment will force farmers to limit planted areas, which will limit spring production and June/July harvests to below-average levels.

    Macroeconomic perspectives:

    • According to World Bank forecasts, Haiti’s GDP is expected to contract by 3.6 percent in 2023, an ongoing trend since 2018 that is largely due to sociopolitical instability jeopardizing all productive investment in the country.
    • According to the Central Bank, remittances received from abroad—the main source of currency for the Haitian economy—decreased by 7 percent in the 2021–2022 financial year, while remittances to foreign countries grew by more than 15 percent. This scenario is likely to persist, given the global macroeconomic situation and the decline in purchasing power of the diaspora due to international inflation.
    • Customs reforms increased government revenue for the 2021/2022 financial year. However, despite the government’s very optimistic revenue forecast for fiscal year 2022/2023 (a rise of 28.6 percent compared to 2021/2022), government revenue is unlikely to suffice to cover overall costs for the period. The greatest costs will be those related to the challenge of establishing a climate of security for organizing the elections and financing political parties.
    • Due to high prices for imported staple products and fuel, import bills will likely continue to increase trade balance deficits, further depreciating the domestic currency.
    • The BRH may not have the means to implement its monetary policy to control the depreciation of the gourde. According to the BRH, the gourde will continue to depreciate during the outlook period due to the continuing deterioration of the trade balance, the balance of payments deficit, the increase in capital flight, and low levels of foreign exchange reserves.
    • According to GardaWorld, the official HTG/USD exchange rate may increase between February and September 2023 to reach 195 HTG to 1 USD. The exchange rate on the informal market may follow but is usually higher, up to 214 HTG to 1 USD in September 2023.

    Sociopolitical situation and gang violence:

    • Civil unrest is very likely to intensify during the outlook period, given the lack of adequate policy initiatives and strategies to deal with the current economic situation, recurring gang violence, and the possibility of elections.
    • With gangs strengthening and regaining their grip in certain districts in the city, crime levels are projected to remain high until at least September 2023. Kidnappings are likely to increase over the projection period due to the improved access to fuel in Port-au-Prince.
    • Violent episodes are likely to be of a similar intensity to those observed in the second half of 2022 (July to November), particularly in gang-contested areas such as Bas Artibonite, Cité Soleil, Bel-Air, Martissant, Delmas, Croix des Bouquets, Pétion-Ville and the surrounding areas, Cap Haïtien, and some communes in the North-West region.
    • Furthermore, forced population displacement is projected to continue due to armed conflict and the siege of the capital’s neighborhoods.

    Supply and market prices:

    • Market supply disruptions are expected to continue, particularly in the capital, due to political disruption and the control armed gangs exert in Port-au-Prince. These disruptions will restrict the movement of goods and people in other provincial cities, particularly in the Great South, the Great North, and the Center.
    • Exports of certain staple food products from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, such as wheat flour and eggs, are expected to decrease. It is also possible that one of two companies producing wheat flour in Haiti may close due to gang attacks. As a result, the already-elevated price of this widely consumed product would further increase to an unprecedented degree.
    • Fuel shortages are expected to continue, mainly caused by insecurity and limited imports due to the depreciation of the national currency and the lack of exchange reserves. These shortages are expected to continue driving high fuel prices, particularly on the informal market, resulting in higher public transportation prices and impacting staple food prices.
    • Prices of staple foods—imports in particular—will continue to rise above 2022 prices and the five-year average, due to the rise in fuel costs and the depreciation of the gourde against the dollar and the Dominican peso.
    • Prices of local food products will continue to follow seasonal trends, particularly during the lean season. However, they will likely remain higher than last year and the five-year average, given ongoing currency depreciation, high transportation costs, and decreased production.
    • Seed and fertilizer prices will remain well above average for as long as the crisis in Ukraine persists, resulting in reduced supply and higher prices on international markets.
    • General inflation, especially food inflation, will remain above October 2022 levels (47.2 percent for general inflation and 53.1 percent for food products and non-alcoholic beverages).

    Sources of income:

    • Income from agricultural labor will be below average. The high cost and the scarcity of farm inputs and the rising cost of agricultural labor will limit farmers’ ability to finance their agricultural activities normally. This will reduce the demand for labor.
    • Low production and disruption to the supply chain linked to insecurity will result in below-average income from the sale of spring agricultural products.
    • The sale of charcoal and small-scale trade may generate close-to-normal income during the outlook period, mostly in rural areas. This is not the case in urban areas, in particular in the Haitian capital, which faces constant instability and civil insecurity, compromising normal market operations and informal activities.
    • Migration to the Dominican Republic, which is in decline due to the large-scale deportation of Haitian migrants, will continue to generate below-average income. The Dominican Republic has fewer and fewer job opportunities for Haitians.

    Humanitarian assistance:

    • Although food assistance is expected in 2023, FEWS NET does not have information on the monthly number of recipients or the size of rations. Based on historical trends, the amount of assistance delivered in proportion to the level of need will not significantly reduce food insecurity.

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain widespread in rural Haiti and also in most of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area throughout the projection period due to the impact of gang violence, high inflation, and below-average rainfall on household food and income sources. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in Cité Soleil, the area most affected by gang violence. The need for food assistance will be most significant at the height of the lean season from April to June, and the following harvest will bring only a marginal improvement in food security. However, some communes in the Great South, such as Plaine des Cayes, Torbeck, Saint-Louis-du-Sud, Miragoâne, Fonds-des-Nègres, Paillant, La Vallée-de-Jacmel, and Bainet, will be able to begin their spring cropping campaigns normally. This will increase demand for workers and will generate income, albeit at below-average levels. Poor households in these areas will be unable to satisfy their non-food needs and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    The February to May period coincides with the winter harvest, which will be at its peak in February on the irrigated plains and the semi-humid mountains, followed by the lean season between March and May. During the lean season, rural households face the depletion of winter crop reserves and mainly purchase their food. Although income from agricultural labor will experience a seasonal increase from the spring planting, the demand for labor will not generate enough income for most households to buy sufficient food. Due to sociopolitical instability, climate shocks, the increased cost of inputs, and the inability to sell their food products because of insecurity, farmers will not have sufficient capacity to normally plant their land, hire agricultural workers, or buy inputs. At the same time, the total income from non-agricultural activities such as casual work, petty trade, and charcoal sales in urban areas will be lower than normal. Given elevated food prices, particularly for imported goods, households will likely face reduced income and purchasing power. The typical food basket will remain mostly inaccessible, further reducing kilocalorie intake among poor and very poor households.

    In the context of significantly higher staple food prices and the sociopolitical crisis, poor households in metropolitan Port-au-Prince who make their living mainly from informal activities like petty trade and casual labor are not expected to see their incomes increase. In gang-controlled areas, particularly Cité Soleil, disruption to economic activity and sharp increases in the price of edible goods will lead to prolonged food consumption deficits in poor households. It is expected that a growing number of households will liquidate their productive assets and engage in negative coping strategies, including begging and sending children to eat elsewhere.

    The June to September period coincides with the spring harvest from July and the start of the summer/fall agricultural season, which will generate income for farmers from the sale of harvested food and indirectly for agricultural workers from labor. Local products such as beans, maize, rice, and harvested products (bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes) will be more available and will contribute to a slight, temporary improvement in food security for the poorest households. Furthermore, the relative increase in local availability compared to the first period will lower staple food prices and improve availability, which is consistent with seasonal price projections. However, prices will likely remain above their five-year average and the previous year’s prices. Furthermore, agricultural production is expected to cover only around 20 percent of annual food needs for poor and very poor households, with many still needing to purchase their food. Only a few regions are expected to have produced sufficient food from the spring harvest to move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), including Bas Plateau, South, South-East, and North.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalEasing of sociopolitical unrest or military intervention following the arrival of an international support forceA decrease in violence would improve the functioning of the economy and markets, including a swift resumption of formal and informal activities. This would increase food availability and access and reduce the number of households adopting negative coping strategies. Thus, there would be fewer areas and households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The situation would likely improve in Cité Soleil, moving from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    NationalFuel distribution and sale at normal prices across the countryAll businesses and institutions, including hospitals, would resume normal working hours. Reduced transportation costs would contribute to decreased inflation. Thus, fewer areas would face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity outcomes.
    Production areasImprovement in rainfall conditionsImproved and more or less normally distributed rainfall would positively impact seasonal crop production and increase available food and water for livestock. This would improve the livelihoods of the poorest households and consequently reduce the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC phase 4) outcomes.

    Areas of Concern

    Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area (HT09): Cité Soleil (Figure 6)

    Figure 6

    Area of concern reference map: Cité Soleil
    AOC-HT-LHZ09

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical instability in the capital: Gangs observed a truce between December and mid-January, which facilitated a resumption of economic activities as well as the reopening of schools. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), of the 19,725 people displaced by violence in Cité Soleil, 8,067 individuals (almost 41 percent) were able to return home in February.

    However, the security situation remains volatile in the commune, which is a hotbed for armed conflict and regular murders. National Road 1 crosses Cité Soleil at several strategic points and connects the capital to the four departments in the Great North, namely Artibonite, North-West, North, and North‑East. It is controlled by gangs from Canaan who extort money and loot trucks and passengers who venture onto it. Gunfire, kidnappings, and panic movements continue there, disrupting the markets in the area.

    Markets and prices: Activity at the Croix-des-Bossales market and those in the surrounding areas has increased since December; they are well-supplied, with increased availability. This positive dynamic has not been observed since 2020. Other than imported rice and local grain maize, the prices of some local and imported food products appeared to stabilize slightly between December and February, with moderate fluctuations. For example, the price of a six-pound pot of imported rice, having been in a downward trend since December, fell further by over 12 percent in January, from an average of 725 HTG to 640 HTG (Figure 7). A reduction of over 6 percent was observed between January and February, with the price falling to 600 HTG.

    The two main reasons behind this drop are a significant improvement in the distribution of food products since December and the increased distribution and availability of petroleum products, although the situation is still not at normal levels. Also, despite these downward fluctuations, prices remain well above last year’s rates and the five-year average. Imported rice prices show an increase of 62 percent compared to February 2022 and 100 percent compared to the five-year average.

    Figure 7

    Croix des Bossales: Observed and projected price of imported 4% broken rice (HTG/6lbs)
    {rix du riz importé

    Source: FEWS NET/CNSA

    Sources of income: Sources of income for very poor households in Cité Soleil include petty trade (accounting for over 40 percent of their income), casual labor (around 38 percent), street trading (15 percent), and remittances (5 percent). The resumption of informal activities in downtown Port-au-Prince enables the return of income-generating activities such as street vending and street food, the reopening of small neighborhood kiosks, and informal petty trade activities. In this respect, most residents in the Cité Soleil commune have been able to resume their activities, strengthened by the reopening of schools.

    Accounting for the level of inflation, incomes have decreased in real terms. This means that the informal economic dynamic in the city center and inside the commune of Cité Soleil is not leading to growing revenues or improved purchasing power.

    The average annual income of poor and very poor households was 156,500 HTG, or 13,042 HTG a month for the same period in 2009. Currently, this income is worth 7,000 HTG per month (approximately 84,000 HTG per year) without any disruption or work stoppages. This means that average income for this category fell by around 50 percent compared to the baseline, a significant decline in terms of economic access for very poor households.

    Humanitarian assistance: As with economic activities, the truce between rival gangs facilitated the activities of humanitarian organizations in the commune. A total of 2,906 households, or 20,342 individuals, living in 14 neighborhoods in Cité Soleil benefited from an electronic cash transfer equivalent to 95 USD in January as part of the humanitarian response led by Concern Worldwide. The recipients of cash transfers represent just 4 percent of the total population of the commune, a little less than 6 percent of the population in need of food assistance.

    However, the efforts made by humanitarian agencies to gain access to affected populations in neighborhoods impacted by urban violence resulted in a greater number of recipients. So, in the Cité Soleil livelihood zone, emergency humanitarian aid (dry rations and cash transfers) reached 30 percent of the recipient population in February, according to the updated report from the IPC at the beginning of March 2023. However, given the extent of non-food needs, the volatility of the security situation, and its negative impact on access, this help is neither sufficient nor sustainable.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Imported food products will be available throughout the outlook period, although the supply of markets in the area could experience disruption in places.
    • If it continues, the truce observed by rival gangs in parts of the city, and particularly in Cité Soleil, could result in at least a nominal increase in income from small-scale trade as formal and informal economic activities return to normal.
    • As the impact of gang violence is felt, income from casual labor (including construction work, subcontracted work, laundry, and doorman services) will also be below normal.
    • The current rate of inflation could continue, impacting purchasing power in real terms by more than half.
    • Prices of staple foods will continue to rise above those of last year and the five-year average due to the depreciation of the gourde against the dollar and the increase in urban transportation costs resulting from decreased availability of fuel.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Households will continue to buy food at the market and in the street, the only sources of food for very poor households in Cité Soleil. Given current food inflation levels and the weakening of the gourde expected for the outlook period (approximately 200 HTG per 1 USD), households will likely be unable to meet their staple food requirements. Despite the increase in income-generating activities, purchasing power will likely decrease significantly compared to the preceding period, given the inflationary context. Households will be unable to afford non-food expenditures or to protect their livelihoods. In addition, the lean season (February to May) will amplify the situation with upward fluctuations in the prices of local and imported products. Due to a lack of funding and constraints on access to the area, humanitarian aid will remain limited while a rise in acute malnutrition and widespread cholera continues. A sudden resurgence of insecurity characterized by a sharp rise in kidnappings could slow efforts to help the poorest, hindering humanitarian aid efforts.

    Poor and very poor households may return to subsistence activities downtown and within the commune. But the situation remains extremely volatile, with sporadic gunfire between rival gangs in the area creating a climate of fear and disrupting markets. The combination of sociopolitical instability, insecurity, inflation, the depreciation of the exchange rate, and weak purchasing power will lead the poorest households to reduce the quality and quantity of their food consumption and keep Cité Soleil in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity for the two outlook periods. Households will adopt the negative coping strategies observed during the current period, returning to consuming food with low nutritional value, begging, peer supporting, sending more children to eat elsewhere, and selling personal and productive items.

    North-West (HT01): Dry Coastal Maize and Charcoal (Figure 8)

    Figure 8

    Area of concern reference map: HT01 – North-West
    AOC-HT-LHZ01

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Seasonal progress: The North-West HT01 area has experienced a long period of drought, which has had a significant impact on fall and winter agricultural activities and continues to limit spring cropping season activities. Crops such as beans, maize, and sweet potato withered from the lack of rainfall, and most farmers have not yet planted their prepared land. Harvests in the areas with irrigated perimeters represent only a small part of the total surface area, and the winter cropping campaign was lost to the prolonged drought. Over the last four months, the North-West department has recorded the lowest normalized vegetation index of the ten departments in the country. Jean-Rabel commune, which supplies most of the local markets with products, experienced a prolonged drought that led to the loss of the winter bean harvest.

    Food availability: The drought led HT01 to experience a shortage of local food products. Fall crop reserves are depleted, the last pigeon pea harvest was very poor, and the winter cropping season has not been productive. Only the few irrigated perimeters had an average bean harvest. Over 80 percent of local food products come from upper North-West and other departments, with a low local supply for markets supplied primarily with products imported from the United States, such as rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, and maize. The supply of these products to markets has been severely disrupted due to the reduced number of boats transporting goods between Florida and Port-de-Paix, increased transportation costs exacerbated by fuel scarcity, and insecurity.

    Price trends: As on a national level, atypical inflation on staple food products was recorded in the area. Between September 2022 and February 2023, the price of local black beans at Port-de-Paix market rose by 28 percent. Even greater fluctuations occurred in prices of imported products that are more strongly correlated to the depreciation of the gourde, such as rice, wheat flour, and oil.

    The price of rice (Mega) at the Port-de-Paix market rose by more than 35 percent between September 2022 and February 2023. Other imported food products like wheat flour and vegetable oil followed a similar trend, with prices rising by 33 and 47 percent respectively. The prices of imported products at municipal markets in the area, which are more accessible to poorer people, were higher than the prices at Port-de-Paix market because of increased transaction costs.

    The price of beans in February 2023 increased by 100 percent compared to last year and by 154 percent compared to the five-year average (Figure 9). Similarly, the price of local maize grain followed the same trend, with an increase of 108 percent compared to last year and 174 percent compared to the five-year average. Vegetable oil and wheat flour, which are some of the most widely consumed products, experienced the highest inflation, with vegetable oil increasing 120 percent compared to the yearly average and 242 percent compared to the five-year average.

    Figure 9

    Port-de-Paix: Actual and projected local black pea prices, in HTG/6 pounds
    Prix observés et projetés du pois noir local

    Source: FEWS NET/CNSA

    Sources of income: The main sources of income for very poor households, such as fishing and selling of labor and charcoal, all declined in relation to the average. Farmers have reduced their agricultural activity because of the drought and their decreased capacity to finance agricultural activity. This has reduced the demand for labor and consequently reduced income from sales of labor days. Agricultural workers migrating to the Artibonite, where there is more demand for labor and better remuneration, are faced with decreased demand for labor because of insecurity in the area and reduced agricultural activities in the Artibonite Valley due to the drought.

    Income from charcoal sales is below average because of the scarcity of forest resources, high transportation costs due to the scarcity of fuel, and insecurity on the roads caused by armed gangs, which limits the flow of trucks transporting charcoal. Given limited purchase offers, the poorest are forced to sell at low prices to wholesalers who buy charcoal and take it to the markets at Port-de-Paix, Gonaïves and Port-au-Prince.

    Income from fishing is below average. Despite intensifying fishing efforts, fishing catches have not increased because of the overexploitation of coastal resources, which has destroyed fishing habitats. Over time, the mangrove areas along the coast that are essential to the life cycle of many marine species have been destroyed. Because of insecurity, wholesalers and fishing agencies find it difficult to sell their products at the market at Gonaïves and must sell them at low prices at other local markets. This lower price is passed on in the prices they offer to fishermen who, without any means of conserving a perishable catch, are forced to sell.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Poor households will intensify their fishing-related activities to retain close-to-average catch levels during the scenario period. In the absence of management and exploitation regulations, intensified efforts in traditional fishing areas will add to the extra pressure on coastal marine resources.
    • Agricultural production for the 2022/2023 winter season and the 2023 spring season will be below average due to irregular rainfall and a poor 2022 spring harvest that did not generate sufficient income to finance the following cropping season. The useful agricultural area, which is already very small for very poor households, will also be limited.
    • Income from the sale of winter 2022/2023 and spring 2023 harvest crops is projected to be below normal because of increases in the cost of production.
    • The demand for agricultural labor by middle and better-off households will remain below average during the outlook period, due to farmers' reduced income sources. Income from agricultural labor in poor and very poor households will be below average.
    • Small-scale trade will be at below-normal levels for the whole outlook period due to the decline of the aggregate demand caused by reduced purchasing power due to inflation.
    • The price of a six-pound pot of local black beans at the market at Port-de-Paix will fluctuate from 1,000 HTG to nearly 1,600 HTG, remaining very atypically higher than last year’s prices and the five-year average.
    • Insecurity on the road network will continue for the whole outlook period, as the root causes of the sociopolitical crisis and the proliferation of armed gangs have not been addressed.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between September 2022 and February 2023, several factors contributed to a significant rise in the cost of food products. Two of the main causes are the depreciation of the national currency and insecurity on the road network resulting in longer journeys. The prolonged drought impacted fall and winter agricultural seasons and continues to disrupt the spring cropping season. The unavailability of fuel and the 50 percent reduction in the number of boats in Port-de-Paix have led to a significant increase in the price of food products.

    Charcoal, one of the main sources of income for the poorest households, is one of the few products whose price dropped—year-over-year by 14 percent. The purchasing power of poor households is deteriorating in an environment where all their income sources have diminished and over 80 percent of them depend on the market for their food consumption. Qualitative data collected by key informants in the lower North-West HT01 (Baie de Henne, Bombardopolis, Mole-Saint-Nicolas) shows that some households have turned to emergency strategies to minimally satisfy their basic food needs. Begging has increased significantly, as has the sale of goats, fishing equipment, agricultural tools, and land. A rise in households who have sold off all their productive goods to satisfy large food consumption deficits is expected. The number of households (under 20 percent of the total population in the area) facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes is also expected to increase. Across the region, households will adopt Crisis (IPC Phase 3) strategies such as intensifying fishing efforts, production activities, and charcoal sales, as well as consuming less-preferred food to satisfy their minimum needs. The area will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the first outlook period.

    Given the current situation of below-average incomes, high food inflation, and continuing insecurity on the road network, the situation is not likely to change in any significant way before September. However, a slight improvement in food consumption is possible between July and August, which could lead to a drop in the number of people facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, it is unlikely that this will lead to a phase change. As a result, the very poor will likely be forced to continue adopting coping strategies to meet their minimum food needs throughout the second outlook period and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Haiti Food Security Outlook February to September 2023: In addition to insecurity and inflation, drought worsens food insecurity in Haiti, 2023

     

    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.

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