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Persistence of acute food insecurity exacerbated by insecurity and political instability in Haiti

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • February - September 2024
Persistence of acute food insecurity exacerbated by insecurity and political instability in Haiti

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Area of Concern: Ouest HT07 Beans, Bananas, and Petty Trade, Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement, and Cité Soleil (Figure 6)
  • Key Messages
    • Acute food insecurity persists in Haiti due to insecurity, sociopolitical instability, and economic factors. Sporadic protests calling for the resignation of the prime minister, recurring clashes between rival gangs in the capital, and kidnapping cases form the backdrop of the current sociopolitical crisis. These armed groups seek to expand their territorial control by unlawfully establishing toll stations on major roads, thereby causing massive population displacements and disrupting market operations, affecting income-generating activities. Within the municipality of Cité Soleil, disadvantaged households face substantial food consumption gaps due to the impacts of armed gangs and are forced to resort to emergency coping strategies. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity persists in this municipality, while the rest of the country, for the most part, is in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • While there are concerns about rainfall conditions, there has been an improvement compared to last year. However, several factors have weakened the impact of improved rainfall, negatively impacting the performance of the winter agricultural campaign, which is below average. Among these factors are the low availability of quality inputs, the escalation of gang violence, the lack of maintenance of irrigation channels, the rise in input prices, and the high cost of agricultural labor. The temporary closure of the border with the Dominican Republic in the past has also heightened these challenges, resulting in an increase in the cost of certain production factors, notably the cost of mechanized plowing, a service partly provided by Dominicans.
    • Food assistance is not only insufficient in the face of growing needs but also raises significant concerns in terms of targeting and distribution. According to data from the Food Security Cluster, the cumulative number of beneficiaries of emergency food aid from January to November 2023 did not exceed 14 percent of the total population and 10 percent of the number of people in need. According to the Cluster partners' forecasts on the cumulative number of beneficiaries up until September 2024, 70 percent are expected to be in the Grand'Anse region. 
    • Despite the appreciation of the national currency since April 2023, increased availability of fuel compared to the previous year, and a decrease in the annual inflation rate, prices of basic foodstuffs remain unusually high compared to the average. This is due to limited distribution across the country and the tolls imposed by gangs on roadways. As a result, purchasing power has deteriorated for poor households who struggle to meet their minimum caloric needs, given the significantly increased average cost of the basic food basket compared to the five-year average.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Insecurity: The security situation continues to deteriorate, marked by an escalation of protests across the country, at times violent and deadly, demanding the departure of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Additionally, gang violence against civilians, inter-gang conflicts, and kidnappings have intensified. After three years at the helm of the government since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and despite signing agreements with opposition leaders and other civil society groups, the Prime Minister has failed to organize elections. This has plunged the country into an institutional void, further exacerbating security and socioeconomic challenges.

    According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project(ACLED), instances of sociopolitical violence have almost doubled in the last three years, from 455 in 2020 to 874 in 2023. The outlook for 2024 is already more concerning. Indeed, compared to January 2023, the number of events in January 2024 has increased from 44 violent events to 76, representing a more than 70 percent year-on-year increase (compared to January 2023) and a more than 60 percent increase compared to the five-year average (Figure 1).

    The escalation of conflicts between gangs vying for control over expanding territories, particularly in the departments of the Ouest (Port-au-Prince) and Artibonite, is forcing the population to leave their areas of residence, thereby increasing the number of internally displaced persons.

    According to the latest UN estimates, based on a joint study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Haitian General Directorate of Civil Protection (DGPC), as of January 2024, nearly 314,000 people in seven departments (Ouest, Artibonite, Centre, Grand'Anse, Nippes, Sud, and Sud Est), including 170,000 children, have been forced to flee their homes to seek refuge elsewhere in the country. This situation is putting severe strain on the already limited resources of host communities and existing social services. According to IOM, 94 percent of displaced persons in Haiti originate from the Ouest Department, with the capital being the main source. As reported by IOM and cited by the Haiti Partners Liaison and Security Office (PLSO), 3,314 people in Haiti were displaced due to gang violence between January 27 and 31, 2024: 1,398 in Pernier, 1,239 in Wharf de La Saline, and 677 in Drouillard.

    Figure 1

    Violent events, January 2023 to January 2024
    Évènements violents janvier 2023 à janvier 2024

    Source: ACLED

    Gang violence is not only causing massive population displacement but also significantly disrupting economic activity and public transportation. Gangs continue to exert a worrying influence on the functioning of markets. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the transport of goods and people remains subject to the payment of illegal tolls imposed by armed gangs. The latter exert control over most roads, in particular crucial national roads such as the RN1 to the north, the RN2 to the south, and the RN3 to the center, thus hindering the flow of goods and the supply of markets nationwide. Figure 2 presents a classification of markets and the access routes based on the volume of activity, largely determined by the impact of insecurity.

    Figure 2

    Market functioning due to insecurity in Haiti
    Fonctionnement des marchés

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall conditions and the progress of the agricultural season: Rainfall conditions, measured in terms of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), have improved compared to the previous year. Indeed, the NDVI for February 2024 surpassed the average, unlike in February 2023, when the NDVI was below average (Figure 3). However, other major challenges persist in various regions of the country, including the low availability of quality inputs, the escalation of gang violence, neglected irrigation channels, rising input prices, the high cost of agricultural labor, and the temporary closure of the border with the Dominican Republic, among others. These factors have weakened the impact of the improved rainfall and, consequently, have had repercussions on the performance of the winter agricultural campaign. According to the National Food Security Coordination (CNSA), field reports indicate that the performance of the winter campaign is unsatisfactory, mainly due to the unfavorable elements mentioned above.

    Figure 3

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), anomaly from February 11 to 21, 2024 compared to 2023
    Indice de différence normalisée de végétation (NDVI)

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Macroeconomic context: The macroeconomic environment in Haiti continues to be affected by sociopolitical shocks that have exacerbated existing imbalances, thereby weakening the productive foundation of the Haitian economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) over the past four years has shown negative growth rates of 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent in the fiscal years 2022 and 2023, respectively, according to the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics (IHSI), chacterized by unemployment, price instability, trade balance deficits, budgetary deficits, a decrease in unconditional private remittances, and a decline in foreign direct investments, among other factors. Furthermore, after a gradual appreciation of the Haitian gourde against the USD since April 2023, the exchange rate has generally stabilized over the past two months, hovering around 131 gourdes per 1 USD. Compared with February 2023, it has increased by about 15 percent but still remains above the five-year average.

    According to IHSI, imports have experienced a slight decrease of 0.4 percent in volume on a year-on-year basis. Among the most significant products in the structure of Haitian imports, edible minerals (-8.5 percent), chemicals (-16.3 percent), and manufactured goods (-9 percent) have recorded the most significant declines in 2023. In contrast, food products, accounting for about 17 percent of total imports, increased by 39.9 percent. 

    In 2023, constant value exports recorded a significant decline of 9.6 percent. Furthermore, the analysis of Haiti's export basket for the year 2023 reveals a substantial drop of 26.6 percent in the exports of manufactured goods, representing nearly 35 percent of total exports. This decrease in activities, especially in the textile sector, has had repercussions on the subcontracting workforce, which experienced a more than 20 percent decline in employment (IHSI) due to insecurity leading to the closure or relocation of most industries in this sector.

    During the fiscal year 2022/2023, the three major sectors of the economy—primary, secondary, and tertiary—all experienced a contraction in their value added. As a result, there were negative growth rates of -5.6 percent, -3.7 percent, and -2.9 percent, respectively, for these sectors. Compared to the previous year, remittances from Haitian migrants slightly decreased by 1.2 percent in 2023, as opposed to a relatively more substantial decline of 4.9 percent in 2022 compared to 2021.

    This bleak economic landscape remains a major challenge to the target of positive GDP growth (1.5 percent) expected for the year 2024. This underscores the need for local and international stakeholders to commit to ending this prolonged multidimensional crisis. This is one of the essential conditions for achieving this growth objective.

    Inflation: Since January 2023, during which the year-on-year inflation peaked at 49.3 percent, prices have continued to rise, albeit at an increasingly slower pace. This trend persisted, reaching an annual inflation rate of 21.2 percent in December 2023 (Figure 4). One of the main factors contributing to the slowing pace of inflation is the decline in global commodity prices; the global food price index fell by 13.3 percent, dropping from 143.7 in 2022 to 124.7 in 2023. Other factors include a greater availability of petroleum products in the local market and the relative decrease in the exchange rate (IHSI, 2023). The products that have particularly influenced the year-on-year change in the consumer price index (CPI) are lemons (76.1 percent), fresh fish (49.5 percent), edible oil (44.6 percent), herring (42.8 percent), housing rent (39.9 percent), water (32.5 percent), and millet (31.5 percent). The prices of local and imported products have grown by 22.6 percent and 21.4 percent, respectively, on a year-on-year basis. At regional level, the highest price increases are observed in the Sud and Ouest regions, with 23 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively, on a year-on-year basis. The increases in the other regions are below 21 percent.

    Figure 4

    Change in annual inflation rate, in percentage
    Évolution du taux d'inflation

    Source: IHSI

    Markets and prices: Insecurity related to armed gang violence and their control over major roadways has significantly disrupted the supply flow to markets (Figure 2). The most affected regional market is that of Croix-des-Bossales in the Ouest Department., followed by the Gonaïves market (Artibonite) and that of Port-de-Paix (Nord-Ouest). According to FEWS NET estimates, the Croix-des-Bossales market, the largest in the capital, is operating at only 40 to 60 percent of its capacity due to panic caused by criminal groups. The closure of many food warehouses in downtown Port-au-Prince has significantly reduced food availability in this market. Consumers strictly limit their visits to this market due to the insecurity prevailing in the downtown area. Furthermore, due to limited access to national roads, food products from other regions of the country are scarce in this market, resulting in a significant increase in prices.

    Concerning the Gonaïves market, there are no security issues within the market itself. However, this market faces difficulties in receiving products from the capital due to insecurity in the capital and on the roadways. A significant portion of the supply and demand in this market comes from Ouest (Port-au-Prince), which is heavily affected. Furthermore, insecurity has significantly impacted rice production in the Artibonite department, which supplies the Gonaïves markets.

    As for the market in Port-de-Paix in the northern part of the country, it is indirectly affected by insecurity in Port-au-Prince, especially on National Route 1, leading to a reduction in product availability and consequently an increase in food prices. Through its impact on roadways, insecurity affects the availability of fuel in this region, which also has an impact on the prices of basic foodstuffs. This region is structurally food-deficient and relies more on other regions, especially the departments of Artibonite and Ouest (Port-au-Prince). Except for certain local products such as beans and corn, this market relies heavily on imported products for its supply.

    The data on the change in average prices in Haitian gourdes for basic cereals, wheat flour, and black beans from January 2019 to January 2024 (Figure 5) show that the prices of local and imported food products, which remain at a very high level compared to the annual and five-year averages, have fluctuated very little. Indeed, the prices of FEWS NET-monitored local products, such as maize and dry black beans, have moderately increased between December 2023 and January 2024 by approximately 6 and 3 percent on average, respectively. A five-pound pot of the two products sold at over 395 and 1,157 gourdes, respectively, compared with 374 and 1,128 gourdes a month earlier. At the same time, the prices of imported food products like cooking oils and wheat flour also remain relatively stable, experiencing weak fluctuations during the same period. 

    The price of imported rice with a 4 percent breakage has fluctuated downwards by more than 5 percent between December and January, decreasing from 761 to nearly 720 Haitian gourdes per six-pound pot. The prices of wheat flour and cooking oil also show a stable trend during the same period, remaining unchanged compared to last December and dropping compared to last year by 25 and 13 percent, respectively. However, the retail prices of all basic products, whether local or imported, remain atypically high compared to the five-year average, ranging from 85 to 114 percent. 

    Figure 5

    Change in the average price in gourdes of basic cereals, wheat flour, and black beans, January 2019 to January 2024
    Évolution des prix des céréales

    Source: FEWS NET

    Sources of income: In rural areas, poor households primarily depend on selling agricultural labor and engaging in petty trade. According to a study[1] of off-farm income of very poor households carried out in Haiti by FEWS NET in January 2024, more than 60 percent of respondents said that these two main sources of income (sale of farm labor and petty trade) were the predominant activity of very poor households in rural areas. Next, in descending order of importance, come livestock breeding, self-employment, non-agricultural labor (fishing, construction and charcoal), and charcoal sales, among others. This study, although somewhat mixed for some sources of income, revealed an overall downward trend in the availability of opportunities in these different sources of income compared with a typical year (Table 1). Table 1 shows the percentage of respondents who believe that income from the source in question has varied in one direction rather than another.

    According to the study, insecurity is the main reason for the overall decline in the availability of these sources of income and the associated work opportunities. Other secondary factors reported include declining supply, lack of rainfall, high cost of living (for farm labor), disease (for livestock), and lack of financial and material resources (for construction), among others.

    Table 1
    Trend in sources of income compared with the average, in percentage 
    Source of IncomeUpwardDownwardStable
    Agricultural labor force

    25

    56

    19

    Petty trade

    44

    47

    9

    Livestock breeding

    25

    53

    22

    Self-employment

    41

    41

    18

    Fishing labor

    54

    38

    8

    Construction labor

    40

    50

    10

    Charcoal labor

    50

    33

    17

    Charcoal sales

    55

    36

    9

    Source: FEWS NET, Off-farm income surveys, January 2024

    Spread of cholera: At the end of January 2024, data from the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) showed an alarming 1,172 deaths attributable to cholera. At the same time, 79,411 individuals showed symptoms, while 75,160 required hospitalization. Of the 13,618 tests carried out, 4,608 cases were confirmed, indicating a worrying positivity rate of 33.8 percent, accompanied by a mortality rate in excess of 25 percent. It is crucial to note that these figures 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.

    To date, since the last test on December 28, 2023, which brought the total number of tests to 13,618, no further analysis had been undertaken until January 30. This gap in monitoring has led to the apparent stagnation of the number of confirmed cases at 4,608, despite the registration of eleven new deaths, 1,806 new hospitalizations, and 2,327 suspected cases during this period.

    The three departments most affected by this epidemic, in descending order, are Ouest, Centre, and Artibonite. Notably, almost half of the confirmed cases are concentrated in the Ouest Department, where more than 40 percent of the tests are carried out. Furthermore, it is imperative to emphasize that the persistent prevalence of cholera substantially increases the risk of malnutrition among children under five in these regions, thus representing one of the significant contributing factors, irrespective of any measures undertaken to contain this infection. 

    Malnutrition situation: The conclusions of the IPC workshop on acute malnutrition, conducted in November 2023 under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health and Population, highlight significant variations in the malnutrition situation in Haiti, influenced by various factors such as insecurity, rising prices of basic food and non-food products, the prevalence of certain childhood diseases (cholera, diarrhea), and the low availability of drinking water and health services. Currently, Artibonite and Sud-Est are facing an Alert situation (IPC AMN Phase 2). The other regions also show acute complex dynamics, highlighting the need for targeted interventions to improve the living conditions of local populations.

    Emergency food aid: The issue of food aid is of great concern. Not only is it proving to be insufficient in the face of pressing needs, but it also raises major concerns regarding targeting and distribution. According to data from the Food Security Cluster, the cumulative number of beneficiaries of emergency food aid from January to November 2023, including all intervention modalities (vouchers/coupons, cash transfers, in-kind transfers), does not exceed 1.66 million people out of an estimated population of 11,724,763. This represents approximately 14 percent of the total population and less than 10 percent of the number of people in need. According to the Cluster partners' forecasts from February to September, the cumulative number of beneficiaries of emergency food aid did not exceed 700,000 (the number is 664,809). Of these beneficiaries, nearly 70 percent are in the Grand'Anse department..

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Conflict between rival armed gangs vying for increasing control of territory is leading to population displacement, increasing the number of dependents in host families, restricting economic activities in the Haitian capital, and indirectly affecting the entire country. As a result, those in need face a limited supply of food and other basic necessities. Winter harvests are underway, but they account for less than 20 percent of annual agricultural production and are below average. As a result, households are mainly dependent on markets.

    Despite the favorable exchange rate and the relative availability of fuel compared to last year, resulting in a decrease in the inflation rate, prices of goods, including basic food items, are atypically high compared to the five-year average. With the main sources of income also decreasing compared to the average, there is a deterioration in the purchasing power of poor households. Given the average cost of the minimum food basket (approximately 26,000 gourdes), households are struggling to meet their minimum caloric needs (barely reaching 1,870 out of 2,100 kilocalories, according to the analysis of the food basket by CNSA).

    In the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, particularly in areas under the control of gangs, prolonged food consumption gaps are prevalent among poor and very poor households. Due to the escalation of gang violence, the high prevalence of cholera, the ongoing decline in downtown activities, chronic food deficits, acute malnutrition, and the decreasing household employment rate in the municipality of Cité Soleil, poor households in this municipality are resorting to emergency coping strategies such as begging, prostitution, or sending children to eat elsewhere, among others. Consequently, households in Cité Soleil are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity outcomes.

    The situation is relatively less critical compared to Cité Soleil in the rest of the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, including Croix-des-Bouquets, Delmas, Pétion-Ville, and Carrefour, although these areas are also affected by gang-related insecurity and sociopolitical demonstrations that negatively impact economic activities. This municipality is facing chronic extreme poverty and, according to a November 2023 IPC AMN analysis, has recorded the highest rate of global acute malnutrition. With below-average sources of income, households are resorting to crisis coping strategies and facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 

    In the rest of the country, availability of and access to food has deteriorated compared to the previous year due to below-average autumn and winter harvests, low household income, high prices of basic foodstuffs, and the persistent sociopolitical crisis and high levels of civil insecurity, which are negatively impacting the economic stability of the country. Poor and very poor households, who typically rely on selling their harvests for income, are increasing consumption of their own production to offset some of the deficits related to the decrease in their purchasing power. Those who derive their income from selling agricultural and fishing labor are turning to alternative activities to meet their needs, such as non-agricultural work (laundry and domestic work in the city) or adopting negative crisis adaptation strategies, such as intensifying the production and sale of charcoal, in order to maintain an acceptable level of food consumption. As a result, these areas are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    HT Calendrier saisonnier Janvier

    Source:

    The most likely scenario from February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Sociopolitical situation and gang violence:

    • Violence associated with the activities of armed gangs has increased and is expected to continue increasing to record levels as gangs gain and strengthen their control over specific neighborhoods in the country.
    • It is highly unlikely that political actors will reach an agreement for the organization of upcoming elections due to the elevated levels of gang violence, economic challenges, and the consistent inability of political leaders to achieve consensus in negotiations.
    • Politically motivated social unrest is expected to intensify through at least September 2024, surpassing the levels of unrest seen in 2023, in part due to the new wave of protests that intensified in February. However, social unrest is expected to remain below the peaks seen from 2018 to 2021.
    • Nevertheless, sustained social unrest, caused by economic and social factors, is expected throughout 2024, fueled by continued and rising inflation, increased insecurity, and extreme poverty levels.
    • In addition, an increase in insecurity-related protests is expected over the period under review, as gangs take more control of the capital's residential areas, leading to an increase in population displacements.
    • Following a decision on January 26 by the High Court of Justice in Kenya blocking the deployment of police officers to Haiti, it is unlikely that deployments will take place until September 2024. In addition, the effectiveness of the force would depend to a large extent on factors such as its mandate, composition, size, and rules of engagement.
    • Gangs controlling all national roads, thus restricting access to the capital and other areas, impede access to fuel and its distribution in many rural areas. This situation is likely to persist as gangs continue to expand their influence across the country.
    • Kidnappings, homicides, attacks on civilians, gang clashes, and attacks on security forces are expected to increase to at least September 2024, reaching record levels as gangs consolidate their control over areas of Port-au-Prince.

    Agroclimatology

    • According to the forecasts from the USGS, above-average temperatures and average rainfall are expected at the beginning of the spring season in 2024. This should promote the start of the agricultural season during this period. This situation should last during the first period of the most likely scenario. 
    • According to the NOAA, slightly above-average rainfall is anticipated from May through August 2024, corresponding to the second period of the scenario.

    Agricultural production:

    • Agricultural production, particularly the production of local cereals (rice, maize, and sorghum) for the winter of 2023 and spring 2024, is expected to be relatively reduced by less than 5 percent on an annual basis and below the five-year average (a decrease of more than 20 percent). This decrease is mainly due to the significant drop in local rice and maize production in the main production zones such as Artibonite, Ouest, and Centre. Despite the forecasts of average rainfall, above-average temperatures could increase soil evapotranspiration and diminish the otherwise positive effects of this rainfall. Limited access to quality inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), lack of funding, irregular spatiotemporal distribution of rainfall, and, above all, insecurity due to gang violence affecting the mobility of production factors and access to certain production zones will also influence production, especially in the Artibonite and Ouest regions.

    Macroeconomic outlook: 

    • According to the USDA, imports of wheat, rice, and wheat and rice derivatives are expected to increase in the marketing year 2023/2024 by just 1 percent compared to 2022/2023 due to the growth of rice stocks stored by importers and illegal trade. Although there are no changes in taxes or policies regarding rice imports in Haiti, the precarious security situation, especially around major seaports, could threaten the local marketing of rice.
    • After five consecutive years of negative growth, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) forecasts a 0.5 percent growth of the Haitian economy's GDP. The Haitian government's growth forecasts, based on an increase in customs revenues, are 0.7 percent and those of the World Bank are 1.3 percent.
    • According to the IHSI, international transfers from Haitian migrants in 2023 decreased by approximately 1.2 percent compared to 2022. This situation is likely to continue in 2024, given the massive emigration of Haitians, mainly to the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.
    • According to the Central Bank of Haiti (BRH), foreign direct investment, mainly reinvestments in the communication sector, fell from 39 million USD to 24 million USD from 2022 to 2023, a decline of just under 40 percent. Due to the unfavorable security climate for investment in general, it is highly likely that this trend will continue in 2024. This would continue to negatively impact employment opportunities, especially in the textile sector, which has already seen a decrease of around 18 percent in terms of the number of jobs between November 2022 and May 2023, according to the Association of Industries in Haiti (ADIH), as cited by ProFin.
    • Tax revenues benefited from increased customs duties in fiscal year 2023, and this trend is expected to continue in 2024. This should help the government maintain budget financing instead of resorting to central bank monetary financing, further alleviating bottlenecks on the monetary supply side that have fueled inflation and allowing for the stabilization of the Haitian gourde.
    • The national currency has appreciated by approximately 15 percent on an annual basis (February 2023 to February 2024). According to S&P Global's forecasts, based mainly on the performance of customs revenues, this trend is expected to continue. Between February and September 2024, an appreciation of approximately 2 percent is expected. Over the period from September 2023 to September 2024, the national currency is expected to appreciate by around 6 percent.
    • The continued appreciation of the national currency, the gourde, should make imports less expensive and help to reduce the trade balance deficit somewhat. Lower fuel import bills are also expected to positively influence transport prices, contributing to further disinflation.
    • According to the results of a survey conducted in December 2023 by ProEco, 75.2 percent of Haitian professionals are still expecting an increase in the inflation rate in 2024. FEWS NET forecasts an inflation level above the five-year average. 

    Markets and food prices: 

    • Market supplies are expected to remain disrupted due to interruptions caused by insecurity related to the presence of gangs on national roads during this period, as well as by the control exercised by armed gangs in Port-au-Prince. This situation will continue to limit the movement of goods between the major cities. Of the ten departmental markets, the Croix-des-Bossales market, having already lost more than 50 percent of its capacity in terms of trade volume, is expected to continue to be the most affected by insecurity related to gang violence. Frequent disruptions are expected to continue causing significant shortages of food and non-food goods due to the closure of warehouses for such products in the lower part of the city of Port-au-Prince and irregular trade in this market, resulting in consumer participation that is well below average.
    • Thus, despite general disinflation, the prices of basic foodstuffs (imported and local) and those of agricultural input items (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) will remain close to the average year-on-year and be above the five-year average.
    • A decrease in trade flow between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is anticipated due to conflicts between the two countries if the current negotiations around the construction of the canal fail again.

    Sources of household income: 

    • Farm labor income will be below average. The financial capacity of farmers to normally fund agricultural activities will be limited by the high cost of input items, especially seeds and fertilizers, along with the scarcity of, and increase in the price of, agricultural labor, leading to reduced demand for agricultural labor.
    • Income from the sale of spring agricultural products will be below average due to reduced production and distortions in the distribution chain caused by insecurity.
    • Petty trade in rural areas is expected to generate typical levels of income during the forecast period. This is not expected to be the case in urban areas, especially Port-au-Prince, due to instability and civil insecurity that disrupts the normal functioning of markets, public transportation on national roads, and informal activities.
    • Migration to the Dominican Republic, declining due to mass deportations of migrants and voluntary departures of Haitians following conflicts related to the construction of the irrigation canal on the Massacre River, continues to provide incomes below normal levels. 
    • According to the Cluster partners' forecasts, food aid is planned for the year 2024. However, its duration varies from one region to another, and its coverage would be relatively insignificant to bring about major changes. Some municipalities will have aid until April, others until July and August. Thus, from May to September, a cumulative total of about 200,000 beneficiaries are planned to receive emergency food aid.

    Malnutrition situation: 

    Apart from the Nord Department, which is expected to maintain Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) levels of malnutrition until November 2024, Artibonite and Sud are expected to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3 from June to November 2024. In all other departments, Phase 2 malnutrition is expected to continue until November. Insecurity, the deterioration in minimum food consumption conditions, civil instability, fuel shortages and challenges related to cholera are among the reasons for this deterioration in these three departments.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The period from February to May 2024 corresponds to the lean season, during which already below-average agricultural production and low winter harvests in the irrigated plains and humid mountains will be completely exhausted by March. This will not allow for the accumulation of sufficient food reserves for this period. As a result, poor households, who already have very few means of production, including land, will depend more on the market for their food consumption.

    This will take place in a context where food prices are unusually high compared to the five-year average, and the demand for labor is limited due to successive crop losses experienced by middle-income and wealthy farmers, which have constrained their ability to hire agricultural labor during the spring crop year.

    Given the context of political uncertainty, the different sources of income of poor households will continue to be significantly impacted, decreasing the purchasing power and therefore the food access of poor households. Food security will deteriorate further in all livelihood areas, with a gradual increase in the number of food-insecure people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes until May. In addition, some areas, such as most municipalities in Ouest, Artibonite, Grand'Anse, Lower Central Plateau, and Sud-Est, will transition from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as previously indicated in the most likely food security outcomes map from February to May (page 2). The areas that will undergo the most significant changes are those most likely to be affected by gang violence and dry agricultural zones that rely solely on rainfall.

    The period from June to September will see a gradual improvement in the availability of local agricultural products due to the spring harvest, which represents the main harvesting season in the country. However, the impacts of insecurity on the economy in general and on agriculture in particular will limit these harvests and their flow on the markets. Thus, the situation described in the period from February to May will improve only temporarily and in a localized manner from June to September, especially in areas less impacted by gang violence and irrigated areas, such as Grand Sud, Nord, and Nord-Est.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 2
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario
    AreaEventsImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalResignation of the prime minister and effective and efficient deployment of a foreign peacekeeping forceAt the national level, new leadership could significantly contribute to limiting conflicts and tensions within the population, creating a favorable and secure environment for normal commercial activities and even facilitating the organization of free, transparent, and democratic elections. In addition, this would be conducive to foreign investment, which would lead to the normal resumption of economic activities in a stable environment. This would help improve the main sources of income and reduce inflation, improving food access for poor households, as well as reducing the number of food-insecure households (Crisis [IPC Phase 3] and worse). A transition of some areas from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) (Cité Soleil) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and so on will also be observed.
    Production zonesClosure of the Haitian-Dominican borderThe closure of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could lead to a deterioration in the availability of certain basic food products, in particular eggs, wheat flour, and cooking oil, which could lead to an increase in the prices of these products. In addition, households dependent on border activities, notably petty traders and motorcyclists, will see their incomes decrease. An increase in the number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), although relatively small, would be possible, especially in border areas.
    Production zonesFloodsProlonged and intense rainfall would lead to flooding, devastating existing crops, sweeping away livestock, and causing damage to critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supply, and sanitation systems, as well as agricultural infrastructure. These consequences would lead to considerable economic losses for farmers and create food shortages in the affected communities. What's more, excessive rainfall could increase health risks by promoting the spread of waterborne diseases, contaminating drinking water sources, and creating conditions conducive to the reproduction of disease vectors. As a result, the livelihoods of the poorest households would be severely affected, potentially leading to a significant increase in the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes.

    Area of Concern: Ouest HT07 Beans, Bananas, and Petty Trade, Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement, and Cité Soleil (Figure 6)

    Figure 6

    Boundary map of the Ouest HT07 area of concern
    Zone de préoccupation Coix-des-Bouquets HT07

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation 

    Seasonal progress: In terms of agro-climate, the situation has not improved much since the analysis of October 2023. The area continues to experience episodes of drought, despite its water potential with Lake Azuei (Thomazeau) and the Grise River (Plaine du Cul de Sac). The control by armed gangs of the locality of Dumay, where the Bassin général is located, the main intake on the Grise River allowing irrigation of lands in the vast Cul de Sac plain, hinders the exploitation of the water potential of the region. Farmers are unable to harness the waters from the dam and the lake, even though irrigation canals are available. All of this limits the development of agriculture in the area, which is typically the primary source of income for residents who mostly work as laborers. 

    Having lost the spring 2023 harvests, the area has not launched the autumn and winter campaigns, the harvests of which should be used for the spring planting operations of 2024. Currently, some harvests of pigeon peas and beans have been observed, although only in the locality of Belle Fontaine, along with year-round banana production. The municipality of Fond Verette is an exception, especially with its vegetable crops, particularly in the Forêt des Pins area. The production from this municipality usually supplies the markets of Croix-des-Bouquets and Croix-des-Bossales. Insecurity, especially the exorbitant fees imposed by gang members for trucks carrying products across National Road 3 and the international route (Croix-des-Bouquets/Ganthier), discourages public transportation and goods transport to downtown Port-au-Prince. 

    Markets and prices: The main market for the area, as well as for Cité Soleil, is Croix-des-Bossales. Its sociopolitical and security environment remains very volatile; riots or armed clashes constantly break out. For this reason, most warehouses for local and especially imported goods are closed. According to our collector, this reduces the operational dynamics of the market to nearly 60 percent. Under normal circumstances, the market supplies the entire metropolitan area and other surrounding rural regions. A decrease in availability, as well as a significant slowdown in demand, has been observed there. 

    However, the prices of both local and imported food products, which still remain at a very high level, have fluctuated very little. Indeed, the prices of the two local products monitored by FEWS NET, maize and black beans, have not fluctuated significantly between December 2023 and January 2024. At the same time, the prices of imported products such as cooking oils, wheat flour, and rice remain more or less stable. It should be noted that the price of a six-pound pot of imported rice with 4 percent breakage still sold for 700 Haitian gourdes in January, as was so at the end of the previous year, following an increase of over 15 percent between November and December 2023. Overall, retail prices for all basic products, whether local or imported, remain atypically high compared to the five-year average, in proportions exceeding 100 percent.

    Sources of income: Agricultural labor is typically the primary source of income for the very poor in the Ouest HT07 zone, contributing nearly 54 percent of their annual income (around 65,000 gourdes in the reference year). However, due to drought and insecurity, better-off, decapitalized farmers have had to significantly reduce cultivated land and therefore their demand for workers. Income from the sale of labor, which is falling significantly, is below average. The resulting income remains below average due to the sociopolitical crisis and, especially, the wave of insecurity gripping the area following hostilities between rival gangs for territorial control. The sale of wood and charcoal is a supplementary income activity but at insufficient levels, given its low contribution to the income range of the poorest individuals. According to ENSSAN 2023, this contribution is 8 percent.

    In Cité Soleil, the primary sources of income for the very poor include petty trade (accounting for over 40 percent of their income), which involves mobile sales of food and non-food products, occasional work (approximately 38 percent), and street vending of products (15 percent), which are the most common. It should also be noted that, according to a 2019 baseline study by Concern Worldwide on livelihoods in the municipality, handlers, dockers, baggage handlers, transporters, and recyclable waste collectors have been observed. Such subsistence activities, vulnerable to the insecurity prevailing in this area, do not take place on a regular basis. Thus, given households’ poor purchasing power, together with the high level of inflation and the considerable slowdown in these activities, income from these sources is below average. 

    Humanitarian aid: Food aid is not always able to reach the neighborhoods of the Ouest HT07 Croix-des-Bouquets zone, due to recurrent attacks by armed gangs. In November and December, fewer than 5,000 people received in-kind assistance, consisting of monthly distributions of food kits at the household and orphanage levels, with nearly 95 percent being new beneficiaries. According to the Food Security Cluster, food kits are distributed every month to orphanages and families with children. Each family receives a food kit consisting of 5.6 kilograms of mixed rice, containing 18,200 calories. In addition, approximately 6,000 monthly cash transfers are distributed, amounting to an average of 160 USD. However, food aid reaches only the most accessible localities in Croix-des-Bouquets and not the most remote areas, where the poorest people actually live. Thus, out of a population of almost 310,000 people, the number of beneficiaries is negligible.

    In Cité Soleil, distributions are similar to those observed in Croix-des-Bouquets, consisting of rice food kits and cash transfers. On the other hand, the monthly number of beneficiaries is more than twice that of Croix-des-Bouquets and targets the same category: orphanages and families with children. According to data available up to December 2023, more than 9,500 kits have been distributed to them. It should also be noted that the number of cash assistance beneficiaries is around 23,000 people receiving an average of 115 dollars. In addition, the number of beneficiaries in this municipality is drastically decreasing due to clashes between various rival armed groups compromising access to emergency humanitarian aid. 

    Nutritional situation: According to the IPC AMN analysis conducted in November 2023 covering the period from December 2023 to November 2024, nutritional indicators are deteriorating significantly in the Ouest 1 or the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area, including the Croix-des-Bouquets district and the Cité Soleil municipality. The situation is particularly bad in Croix-des-Bouquets, which is classified in Critical (IPC Phase 4) for the current situation. It is also deteriorating in Cité Soleil, which is classified in Alert (IPC Phase 2) for the current situation. It should be remembered that these two areas are plagued by armed violence that disrupts livelihood conditions, forcing populations to flee these areas. Furthermore, despite the violence, the municipality of Cité Soleil is somewhat more accessible than Croix-des-Bouquets. As a result, a larger number of residents receive more emergency food aid (in the form of cash and in-kind transfers) compared to those residing in the Croix-des-Bouquets district. This may explain the fact that its nutritional situation is far better compared to Croix-des-Bouquets.

    Assumptions 

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

    • Bananas, which are harvested almost year-round, will continue to supply local availability for very poor households during both periods of the most likely scenario.
    • Petty trade and the sale of wood and charcoal will perform more or less normally over the two outlook periods, although their contribution to total income is hardly significant compared to farm labor (mainly in Croix-des-Bouquets). 
    • Demand for farm workers could see some upswing in the context of the launch of the 2024 spring campaign, starting in March. However, it will remain below average, given the residual impact of shocks such as drought and insecurity on better-off farmers in the study area.
    • Income-generating activities in the Cité Soleil area will decrease due to clashes between rival gangs. However, very poor households will still be able to engage in informal activities in the Saline and Croix-des-Bossales areas, such as unloading and loading trucks, and carrying loads on foot for third parties. 
    • The persisting security crisis in the two areas (Croix-des-Bouquets district and Cité Soleil municipality) will continue to limit access to municipalities, making it difficult to distribute emergency food aid to populations in need.
    • Prices for local and imported products (rice in particular) will remain atypically higher than the five-year average throughout the outlook period. The price of a six-pound pot of 4 percent broken rice will fluctuate within a range of 600 to 700 gourdes on average over the outlook period (Figure 7).
    • Emergency food aid, in kind or in the form of cash, will be available until July 2024. However, only the municipality of Cité Soleil will benefit. There is no planned assistance for the Croix-des-Bouquets district during the outlook period. Furthermore, this assistance will not reach a significant enough proportion of the population to have a positive impact on the food security situation in this municipality, given the level of need.

    Figure 7

    Price of imported rice with 4 percent broken grains, observed and projected in Croix des Bossales/Port-au-Prince
    Projection des prix

    Source: FEWS NET/CNSA

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The outlook period coincides, on the one hand, with spring sowing in parallel with the lean season and, on the other hand, with spring harvests followed by the launch of summer/autumn farming activities. Drought and insecurity will limit income-generating activities for better-off households, who will not have the capacity to hire workers. Insecurity will even affect petty trade, which absorbs a large proportion of informal workers.

    Local agricultural products will not really be available, apart from bananas and a few vegetable products, particularly for the Ouest HT07 Beans, Bananas, and Petty Trade livelihood zone (Croix-des-Bouquets district). Purchasing power will deteriorate much more compared with the previous period. As a result, households will not be able to make non-food expenditures or even compensate for the deterioration in their livelihoods. Moreover, the lean season (February to May) will amplify this situation through upward fluctuations in the price of basic foodstuffs. Households are expected to rely primarily on market purchases for their food consumption needs. As a result, households are expected to face food deficits throughout the outlook period due to high food prices and low incomes. The poorest will be able to cover only 65 percent of their basic food needs (FEWS NET 12-month Outcome Analysis, updated in February 2024). 

    Very poor households, with a 100 percent livelihood protection deficit, will once again have to resort to crisis coping strategies such as selling productive assets (work materials, production equipment, household goods), intensifying the felling of fruit trees for the sale of wood and charcoal, selling livestock, and reducing the quantity and quality of daily meals. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will therefore be observed throughout the analysis period.

    The situation in Cité Soleil is expected to be more difficult than elsewhere, given the deterioration in security conditions in the metropolitan area in general, which is significantly impacting the operation of the markets on which households depend for food supplies and income-generating activities. Due to insecurity, income-generating activities continue to decrease with the closure of most warehouses and businesses in the lower part of the city. Incomes are expected to remain below average, and household purchasing power will deteriorate further. As a result, households will likely be unable to afford non-food items or even to protect their livelihoods. Moreover, the lean season (February to May) will amplify this situation through upward fluctuations in the price of basic foodstuffs.

    In addition, due to a lack of humanitarian funding and access constraints linked to insecurity, emergency food aid will remain limited, in a context of acute malnutrition and cholera prevalence. Food deficits are expected to widen throughout the outlook period, and basic resources may be exhausted. Households will continue resorting to negative emergency strategies such as begging, sending children to eat elsewhere, placing children in domestic service, and withdrawing them from school, all indicators of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of acute food insecurity.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Haiti Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Persistence of acute food insecurity exacerbated by insecurity and political instability in Haiti, 2024.

    1

    Off-farm income refers to all income in cash or kind generated outside the farm (i.e., all income not derived from their own agricultural and livestock production). OOFI surveys are conducted from a call center by trained interviewers using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). The interviewees are local key contacts who speak on behalf of poor households in their area (e.g., neighborhood, municipality, etc.) within a specific livelihood zone.

    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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