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The livelihoods and food consumption of poor households continue to be severely constrained by the impact of gang violence and insecurity on the economy, along with inflation reducing household purchasing power and the spatio-temporal irregularity of rainfall affecting agricultural and livestock production. All these factors, exacerbated by the floods at the beginning of June, have increased the level of acute food insecurity. The adoption of emergency coping strategies such as begging, the sale of productive assets, and theft, among others, is still being observed, particularly in Cité Soleil and lower Nord-Ouest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across Haiti until January, while Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, is likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Pockets of very poor households in certain rural areas, including Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Grand'Anse, Nippes, and Artibonite, are also likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Insecurity continues to affect the capital, Cité Soleil, Artibonite, and Nord-Ouest, and this situation is set to persist for the foreseeable future. Economic activity and markets continue to be restricted by incidents of armed clashes and the imposition of illegal fees by armed gangs on the main public transport routes. This considerably restricts the movement of people and goods, reducing incomes and access to food. The popular 'Bwa Kalé' movement, a local anti-gang mob justice initiative, has reduced the kidnap rate across the capital, but the security situation remains tense.
Prices of basic foods remain high compared with the annual and five-year averages, due to heavy dependence on imported products, the low value of the Haitian currency (HTG), supply difficulties, and high transport costs. The inflation rate has remained above 40 per cent since January. Although the HTG has appreciated against the US dollar (USD) by around 10 percent since mid-April and by more than 18 percent on average year-on-year (June 2022/June 2023), this trend is unlikely to continue. Sources of foreign exchange reserves are declining, and the trade deficit remains high. As a result, the purchasing power of poor households will remain low, limiting their ability to access adequate food.
High agricultural input prices, lack of public investment, and farmers' limited ability to finance their activities have reduced the planted area. In addition, localized flooding in June damaged crops in the maturation phase, which had already been affected by the drought conditions. According to the USDA, maize and sorghum are expected to see a 6 percent and 7 percent drop in harvested area respectively, with a 2 percent and 8 percent fall in total production. Spring production in 2023 will be below the five-year average.
Insecurity: the security situation remains tense, with clashes continuing to occur in various districts of the capital, including Martissant, Fontamara, Pétion-Ville (Torcel, Pernier), Cité Soleil and, more recently, Carrefour (Bizoton, Diquini, and Thor), as well as in Artibonite and Nord-Ouest. This has led to disruption of markets and trade flows, and increased prices for basic necessities. According to ACLED, the number of deaths rose by 45 percent between 26 May 2022 and 26 May 2023, from 115 to 167. Acts of gang violence exacerbated the number of deaths, particularly in Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, Martissant, and Pétion-Ville. The epicentre of insecurity remains the department of Ouest, particularly the capital Port-au-Prince (Figure 1).
Source: Armed Conflict & Location Event Dataset
Moreover, after a lull in April and May, gang activity resumed in the capital at the end of June and beginning of July, particularly in terms of the number of deaths and kidnappings. ACLED's data for June shows a decrease in violent incidents (by more than 14 percent) compared to the previous month, but an atypical increase compared to June 2022. In addition, the number of deaths linked to violent events in June rose by more than 10 percent, a very atypical year-on-year increase. Events involving violence and death remain atypically above their five-year average.
On the other hand, the number of kidnappings has fallen significantly. According to CARDHI, there were almost no kidnappings between 24 April and 24 May, until the beginning of June. Compared with almost the same time last year, 225 cases were recorded during the first quarter. This trend was the result of the movement called 'Bwa Kalé', known as 'BK'. This movement is a form of self-justice or mob justice aimed at neutralizing gang members through extrajudicial executions. However, the security situation remains fragile, especially with the resurgence of kidnappings across the capital since the end of June.
As a result, economic activity, markets, and public transport are struggling to function at their normal pace, impacting on sources of income and food. This is all the more the case as public transport of goods and people is still subject to the payment of illegal fees imposed by armed gangs who control almost all the roads connecting the country's various departments, in particular the national roads linking Port-au-Prince with the north (RN1) and south (RN2) of the country, affecting the flow of goods and the supply of markets in the departments of Artibonite, Nord-Ouest, Nippes, and Sud.
Rainfall conditions: the drought observed across the country since November 2022 continued until April and was particularly severe in the north of the country, with rainfall well below average. Late rains at the end of April enabled total rainfall to reach an average level in May. In addition, at the beginning of June, a heavy rainfall started the 2023 hurricane season, causing flooding throughout most of the country, with the exception of Nord, Nord-Est, and Artibonite.
Typically, certain regions such as Haut Artibonite, Centre, Nord, Nord-Est, and Sud-Est (with the exception of the Belle-Anse arrondissement) are proving beneficial in terms of launching agricultural activities. However, the recent conditions have nevertheless caused enormous material and human damage, particularly in the departments of Ouest, Nord-Ouest, Grand'Anse, Sud, and Nippes, where banana, bean, and maize plantations have been destroyed. Crops in flowering and fruiting phase in February, March, or April in Sud, Grand-Anse, and Nippes suffered damage due to excessive rainfall, such as rotting of standing bean seeds and abnormally long maize stalks. As a result, crops that were not destroyed were harvested early.
Nevertheless, in the semi-humid mountains of the Sud, Nippes, Nord-Est, and Ouest, and in areas that have been little or not at all affected by the floods, agricultural activities are underway, albeit very late. According to local informants, due to climatic disruptions, farmers do not take account of the normal seasons, but now wait for the rains before launching the agricultural campaigns. Sowing operations got under way quickly following the heavy rainfall caused by bad weather in the first week of June. However, farmers in Nord-Ouest and other regions are unable to take full advantage of this because of a lack of inputs, particularly seeds, which is further delaying farming activities there.
Macroeconomic context: annual headline inflation remains very high, but continues to fall moderately according to the latest price bulletin update from the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information (IHSI). From 49.3 percent in January 2023, the annual inflation rate was 48.2 percent in March, then remained at around 47.9 percent and 46.4 percent in April and May respectively. Transport and food are still the main drivers of inflation (Figure 2). While food inflation remained around an annual average of 48 percent from January to March, transport inflation went from 121 percent to 108 per cent over the same period. This downward trend continued in April and May, although at a moderate pace. Food and transport inflation fell by around two percentage points between April and May, to around 45.8 and 105.2 percent respectively year-on-year. The decrease in inflation was due to a slight improvement in the availability and distribution of fuels, and also to the appreciation of the Haitian currency against the US dollar.
Source: Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d'Informatique (IHSI)
Fuel is beginning to be available at gas stations at prices set by the government: gasoline and diesel at 570 and 670 gourdes/liter respectively. However, this product continues to be sold on the black market in most parts of the country, even in Port-au-Prince, where it is more widely available. In addition, the new pricing (more than 50 per cent of previous fares) of all public transportation by the government since November 2022, as well as the fees that drivers have to pay to armed gangs, continue to influence the transportation cost and, in turn, the price of staple foods. However, the weakness in the implementation or enforcement of the measures taken in the petroleum sector still leaves the country with by far the highest food and transport costs in the Central America and Caribbean region (Figure 3).
Source: FEWS NET et Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d'Informatique (IHSI)
The official exchange rate appreciated against the US dollar between April and May. The exchange rate went from 152.62 gourdes to the dollar in April to 148 gourdes in May, an average appreciation of more than 7 percent (Figure 4). Until June 27, the dollar had fallen to 138.21 gourdes, showing an 18 per cent year-on-year appreciation. Despite the current level remains atypically above the average of the last five years, this trend in the exchange rate moderately lowers the level of inflation in general, and in particular the prices of imported products such as edible oil, wheat flour, and rice.
Source: BRH, juin 2023
In addition, migrant remittances, a major source of foreign currency for the national economy, are continuing the downward trend over the last two years (Figure 5). Haitian migrant remittances in Q1 2023 (240 million) were lower than in Q4 2022 (253 million), according to the Central Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH). Year-on-year, net private transfers fell by more than 9 per cent between March 2022 and March 2023. Among many other measures, the BRH regulation, imposed in September 2022, which obliges remittance agencies to pay beneficiaries in national currency, has reduced the value of migrant transfers to Haiti. This reduction has led to a contraction in foreign exchange reserves, affecting the gourde/dollar exchange rate, against a backdrop of a chronic trade deficit. This explains why the current appreciation of the gourde is unsustainable in the medium and long term.
Markets and prices: except for mangoes and market gardening products, markets are mainly supplied by imported foods (rice, flour, and dried peas, among others), despite the disruption to their operations caused by the insecurity. Moreover, with the security situation still volatile, markets have not yet reached their average supply levels, due to a lack of access. Gangs are still operating in the neighborhoods of the metropolitan area, Artibonite, and Nord-Ouest (Bassin Bleu and Gros Morne). This continues to disrupt the functioning of urban markets. Until now, it has been dangerous to travel back and forth along national roads 1 and 2.
Source: BRH, mai 2023
In May, prices of local food products, mainly yellow maize, rose again significantly on several markets, while prices of local dry black beans and imported rice were relatively stable compared with previous months. The price of wheat flour and vegetable oil, in particular, is continuing its downward trend. The fall in commodity prices on the international market, except for rice, and the slight appreciation in the gourde/dollar exchange rate since April seem to have played a catalytic role in this fall. Despite this, food prices remain atypically above both the previous year (by more than 50 per cent) and the five-year average (by more than 100 per cent). Imported rice on three markets: Port-au-Prince/Croix-des-Bossales, Cap-Haïtien and Jacmel illustrates this trend between January 2018 and May 2023 (Figure 6).
Source: FEWS NET, juin 2023
The main factors behind the high basic food prices are the low availability of local products, the rising transportation cost, the illegal passage fees paid to gangs, and the lack of security disrupting markets and the movement of people and goods. Against this backdrop, the fall in prices of certain products in April and May, particularly imported products, does little to improve market access.
Current agricultural season: except for the Grand Sud region (in February and March) and the Centre (in April/May), the spring season has not occurred as planned in the rest of the country. Particularly in dry areas, the rains were late. Sowing has resumed in almost all areas, including the dry regions where the spring season had not yet fully begun. This is attributed to near-normal and above-average rainfall in May, which was well-distributed throughout the country. This is currently the case in dry areas such as Haut Artibonite and Nord (communes of Bawon, Ranquitte, Pignon and La Victoire). In fact, this period coincides with the first spring harvests, particularly in the South, which usually starts this season earlier than the rest of the country. These harvest did not occur in June due to below-average rainfall at the beginning of the year. As a result, the spring and summer seasons overlap, making it difficult for farmers to assess one season against the other. As soon as the rains start, they start planting their land. However, the lack or inaccessibility (low availability and high prices) of inputs, particularly seeds, remains a major constraint to the full resumption of agricultural activities in these areas, particularly in lower Nord-Ouest.
At present, apart from mangoes, which have been harvested since April, there are only a few early harvests of local products such as maize, beans, and other seasonal crops. Moreover, in the agricultural production zone, which begins the spring season in March, 70 percent of plantations in the middle of the vegetative cycle are severely affected by drought until April, followed by floods resulting from torrential rains in early June (Figure 7). According to partial estimates by the Directorate General of Civil Protection (DGPC) on 6 June, the floods have caused agricultural losses in seven departments: Centre, Grand'Anse, Nippes (Miragoane, Paillant, Petite Rivière, and Anse-A-Veau), Nord-Ouest (Baie de Henne, Jean Rabel), Ouest (Fond-Verrettes, Leogane, Cité Soleil), Sud (Camperrin and other communes), and Sud-Est (Belle-Anse in particular). Spring crops such as beans and maize, among others, suffered severe losses.
According to the DGPC, the department of Ouest was the hardest hit by the erratic weather conditions. In the commune of Fonds-Verrettes, 95 percent of the spring crop is lost. This is also the case in the commune of Léogâne, where 80 percent of maize and pea plantations have been destroyed, while 95 per cent of the drainage system is non-existent. At Cité Soleil (in the Sibert agricultural zone, Vaudreuil), 88 per cent of the banana plantations have been destroyed. On the other hand, the departments of Nord, Nord-Est, and Artibonite have been little or not at all affected by the latest bad weather.
While the impact of bad weather on agricultural production was minimal in Artibonite, insecurity had a significant impact. Artibonite is Haiti's most important rice-growing area (more than 85 per cent of national rice production), and there has been a decrease in the planted area. This reduction has a major impact on production and income, and therefore on the food security of the region's inhabitants. According to an assessment conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP), a reduction of almost 5,000 hectares of off-season crops was observed in the rice-growing plain of Artibonite in 2023, compared with 2018, as a result of the deterioration in security in the area since July 2022. This was due to the presence of armed groups in a 'triangle' between Carrefour Bois de Chaux, Liancourt and Petite Rivière-de-l'Artibonite. The study also points out that many of the fields in this triangle have been abandoned. This producing region has suffered the full drought, but has not been able to benefit from the favorable rainfall of recent weeks. Although the rains have increased the flow of water in the irrigation system, insecurity in the region is hampering its ability to do so.
Livestock situation: the situation of livestock was severely affected by the bad weather of June 2nd and 3rd, which also caused losses in livestock. According to the same DGPC report, more than 3,790 livestock were swept away by flooded rivers in Sud-Est (Grand Gosier, 215), Nord-Ouest (Baie de Henne, 870) and Ouest (Cité Soleil, 153), and a very significant number in Léogane (2,500, representing 87 per cent of overall losses). Diseases such as Teshen (affecting pigs) and New Castle (affecting poultry) are still prevalent, particularly in Grand'Anse. According to key informants in the field, a significant number of deaths among these species have been observed in the communes of Corail, Anse-d'Hainaut, Dame-Marie and Les Irois, among others. However, there are as yet no official estimates of pig and poultry deaths linked to these diseases.
Sources of income: in rural areas, poor households depend mainly on the sale of labor, wood, charcoal and the sale of fishery and agricultural products to buy food. The spring campaign did not take place as usual in most of the country's agro-ecological zones, due to the drought. In addition, due to the lack of support from the government and international partners, farmers prepared less land during the spring season than on average. As a result, demand for farm labor is considerably lower than average. At present, with above average and well-distributed rainfall since May, there has been a resurgence in agricultural activity, particularly sowing activities.
However, the delay in launching the spring campaign is impacting demand for workers, which remains below normal, in addition to the residual effects of socio-political and economic shocks which are reducing farmers' capacity to invest. At the same time, according to the key informant interviews conducted in Haiti by FEWS NET on off-farm income in April and May 2023, 41 of the 53 people interviewed said that the availability of farm labor was below normal. Income from the sale of farm labor (before harvest, during harvest and for the second season) is therefore below average. This is despite an increase in the price of farm labor, which varies between 400 and 750 gourdes per day compared to last year, when the cost was between 200 and 400 gourdes per day (particularly for pre-harvest activities, especially during the spring season).
The scenario remains unchanged for the workforce engaged in charcoal production and sales. This activity represents an important source of income, particularly for poor and very poor households. The current situation is approximately normal, but households will need to intensify their efforts to access wood resources, which are gradually becoming scarce, especially in Grand'Anse, Sud, Upper Artibonite, and lower Nord-Ouest. The average nominal income from this activity is in the range of 300 to 800 gourdes.
Fishing typically provides employment opportunities, although in limited numbers, in fishing areas like the Sud coast (Les Anglais, Port-a-Piment, Tiburon), Nord-Est, Nippes, Grand'Anse, Sud-Est, and lower Nord-Ouest. Currently, there is a significant slowdown in activity, leading to low availability of fish products. According to key informants in the study on off-farm income, the main reasons for this decline are, on the one hand, insecurity and, on the other, the sector's lack of adequate equipment. Of the nine people interviewed, five said that production declined considerably on average, as was income.
Areas where agriculture is the main source of income are experiencing a decline, forcing poor and very poor households to turn to occasional subsistence and low-paying activities such as construction labor, petty trade and small businesses, among others, which do not guarantee them an adequate and substantial income. Although more than half of respondents suggest that income levels remain below or equal to average, they also feel that the volume of employment has decreased significantly compared to normal. The situation is more worrying in the case of small businesses in rural areas, where seven out of 10 respondents indicated that incomes are below average.
In urban areas, particularly in the capital, poor households who earn their income from petty trade and casual labor (handling, baggage handling, non-motorized transport, and waste and recycling collection, among others) have below-average incomes due to socio-political uncertainties and the volatility of the country's security environment in general. The textile sector, the largest provider of formal private employment in Haiti (more than 53,000 direct jobs), has suffered the impact of the security and fuel crisis, resulting in cancellation pf 45 percent of orders from customers, particularly American customers, since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. This has further reduced industrial activity in the country and eliminated almost 20,000 jobs. Many poor families from the suburb neighborhoods in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, particularly Cité Soleil, Martissant, and Bas Delmas, work in this sector.
Migration to the Dominican Republic has been an important source of income for poor households in border areas, but recently income levels from migration have been below average. Strict controls on migration flows by the Dominican authorities have led to increasingly large-scale deportations of Haitian citizens, most of them are illegal. In May alone, 19,000 Haitian citizens, including young children, were arrested and deported to Haiti by the Dominican authorities.
Food assistance: the socio-economic crisis that has worsened over the last two years is widening the gap in food insecurity in the country, followed by frequent population movements and deteriorating nutritional conditions everywhere. This means an increase in humanitarian action in the most vulnerable areas requiring urgent intervention. Furthermore, the adverse effects of the bad weather at the beginning of June on the livelihoods of this group further highlights the need to reinforce actions already underway. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of the largest donors of food assistance in Haiti. Its humanitarian aid covers the whole country, with overall funding of over 56 million USD for the whole year.
This aid is mainly distributed by humanitarian organizations. Emergency food assistance comes in two forms: cash assistance (monetary transfers and food vouchers) or in kind (distribution of rations or food products to beneficiaries). According to data from the Food Security Cluster in Haiti, up until May, overall humanitarian assistance in the form of food aid and cash/food vouchers reached 723,900 people in 2023, which, according to FEWS NET estimates, represents less than half of the population in need. Four departments account for 505,000 beneficiaries (nearly 70 per cent of all recipients): Grand'Anse, Nord, Nord-Ouest and Ouest. The latter alone accounts for more than 32 per cent of beneficiaries (234,000, including Cité Soleil with more than 41 per cent, followed by the commune of Cabaret with more than 23 per cent).
More than 105,000 people are set to benefit from emergency humanitarian assistance in the form of cash transfers in June. This assistance is also concentrated in four departments: Nord-Ouest (Jean Rabel, Port-de-Paix), Sud (Camp-Perrin, Torbeck), Nippes (Paillant) and Ouest, with Cité Soleil the best represented commune in terms of the number of beneficiaries (20,000 people, 19 per cent of beneficiaries). The average monthly amount is 6,008 gourdes per household for all four departments. An analysis in terms of covering food needs shows that this amount represents barely 21 per cent of the cost of the food basket calculated by the CNSA (27,850 gourdes on average per month) for a household of 5 people. The food basket is an analytical tool used by the CNSA to assess access to food. The products in this basket provide 1,870 kilocalories/person instead of the minimum standard kilocalories required (2,100 kcal/person). In terms of nutritional value, a complete food basket costs an average of 31,275 gourdes per month at current prices. On this basis, the amount of cash transfers covers barely 19.2 per cent of the total and does not meet the food needs of very poor households.
Spread of cholera: cholera continues to spread across the country, following its reintroduction last year. Up to June11, data from the Ministry of Public Health and Population showed 745 deaths since 3 October 2022. In addition, 3,076 confirmed cases and 46,950 suspected cases were recorded. A rise was observed following the torrential rains of June 2nd and 3rd. To date, a higher concentration of cases has been observed in the country's urban areas, particularly Port-au-Prince. The resurgence of cholera could increase the prevalence of malnutrition in the affected areas and, at the same time, impact household income if a member who should be working is ill. In addition, people suffering from acute food insecurity are more vulnerable to contracting diseases.
Malnutrition: Over the past three years, the country's socio-economic context has been marked by inflation, insecurity, rising unemployment, and natural disasters (earthquake, drought, and floods), all of which have exacerbated the food and nutrition situation in Haiti. In addition to updating nutritional data dating from 2020, the Ministry of Public Health (MSPP), with its partners UNICEF and Action Contre La Faim, also wanted to measure the impact of these various shocks on populations vulnerable to malnutrition. The SMART survey in January 2023 showed a deterioration in the nutritional situation of children compared with the previous five years. Indeed, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is more than five per cent nationally in 2023 (Figure 8) compared with four per cent in 2016/17 (see EMMUS VI chapter 11, section 1.3). While levels of acute malnutrition remain overall within the ranges of Acceptability (GAM PTZ < 5.0 per cent) and Alert (GAM PTZ 5 - 9.9 per cent), this indicates a deterioration in the GAM by more than 27 per cent compared with its 2016/17 level. Despite the Ministry's reservations about the quality of the data collected in Ouest and the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area (where access is difficult due to insecurity), the situation remains alarming in this department, with a GAM of 7.5 per cent. It is nevertheless a cause of concern in regions such as Nord-Ouest (5.1 per cent) and Artibonite (5.0 per cent), among others. In addition, it is likely that levels of acute malnutrition have deteriorated to some extent since January, given that many households have experienced food consumption deficits for several months.
Source: MSPP, Résultats préliminaires de l’enquête SMART, 2023
Current Food Security Outcomes
Despite a slight decline from the previous quarter, the prices of basic foods remain very high and out of reach for many households in Haiti, which are also seeing their incomes and their own crops decline. It is increasingly difficult for households to purchase their minimum requirements in kilocalories. This situation has been observed throughout the country, particularly in areas with high food deficits such as the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and Cité Soleil in particular.
In Cité Soleil, the resurgence of armed clashes is disrupting economic activities in the area, also affecting the center of Port-au-Prince where the country's reference market, Croix-des-Bossales, is located. In addition to the insecurity, Cité Soleil is also facing cholera and, above all, new population displacements and other impacts of the recent floods throughout the area. Access to income for poor households is deteriorating, as are their remaining livelihoods and their food and nutrition situation. Emergency coping strategies such as begging, placing children in domestic service, selling productive assets, juvenile deliquency, and crisis coping strategies such as withdrawing children from school to cope with food shortages, continue to be used. As a result, poor and very poor households are still facing acute food insecurity emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In the other communes of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, poor households are continuing to carry out their income-generating activities, which are still below average, and are resorting to crisis strategies; therefore, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected.
For the rest of the country, the availability of food and income has been severely affected by floods caused by torrential rains. This is the case of the western departments (Leogane and Fond-Verretes, among others), Grand Sud, in particular Les Cayes, Les Nippes, and above all Grand'Anse, which was also recently hit by an earthquake. Material and human damages have been recorded, impacting income-generating activities and the livelihoods of households in these areas. Almost all the spring crops in progress have been destroyed. The ongoing socio-political crisis, civil insecurity, and inflation, which undermine economic stability to the extent of a 40 percent reduction in activities in the subcontracting sector, exacerbate food insecurity across the country.
This situation has led to a further deterioration in levels of acute food insecurity. Poor and very poor households, which usually depend on the sale of their crops, are increasing their own consumption of their produce in order to make up some of the shortfall caused by the decline in purchasing power. Those who live from the sale of farm labor and fishing are turning to other activities to meet their needs, such as non-agricultural work, or to negative coping strategies to maintain an acceptable level of food consumption. As a result, most of the country remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with a growing number of people in food crisis following the latest bad weather.
Source: FEWS NET
The most likely scenario for food security from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to changes in the national context:
- Rainfall: according to forecasts by FEWS NET's scientific partners (NOAA, USGS and Climate Hazards Center), El Niño conditions will lead to below-average rainfall during the second rainy season (August to October/November). Above-average temperatures are also expected. In addition, forecasts indicate that the 2023 hurricane season, which begins in June, should have an average number of events.
- Agricultural production: due to the purchase of inputssuch as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel at above-average prices, and the limited ability of farmers to finance their agricultural activities themselves, have forced farmer to reduce their cultivated area. The USDA expectsn year-on-year declines in harvested area for maize (6 per cent) and sorghum (7 per cent), with a 2 percent and 8 percent, respectively, decrease in total harvested production compared to last year. This situation, coupled with poor weather conditions, is all the more worrying in a context where very little public investment is allocated to the agricultural sector. As a result, spring production in 2023 will be below the five-year average.
- Moreover, considering that farmers will have a reduced amount of seed and income from the spring harvest to invest in sowing during the summer/autumn season, coupled with the projected below-average rainfall in the second rainy season, it is probable that the summer/fall harvest will also be lower than normal. A similar outlook is expected for the winter season in December.
- Socio-political situation: politically motivated social unrest is likely throughout the period, but at levels well below the peaks seen in 2018-2021. However, the economic impact of the growing social unrest continues to be felt through the rise in the price of basic foods, the number of private companies withdrawing from the country, and the worsening unemployment situation in the country. The persistent problems of fuel availability and the associated high prices are likely to continue to trigger civil unrest. The depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the US dollar is likely to prompt the government to further reduce fuel subsidies, exacerbating the unrest and the availability of transport.
- A temporary lull in the violence attributed to armed gangs is likely, due to the population's efforts at self-justice through the 'Bwa Kalé' movement. However, this movement is unlikely to curb the influence of gangs in the long term. Crime levels are expected to return to previously high levels until January 2024, at least as gang members strengthen their grip on specific areas of the capital. This will also be true in the run-up to 7 February, the date on which a newly elected president is due to be sworn into office. Kidnappings, as well as the number of victims, are likely to increase over the projection period, due to the economic impact of sanctions on gang revenues and the difficulties communities will face in sustaining their self-defense efforts.
- The number of violent incidents and deaths is expected to remain close to last year's level (June 2022 to January 2023), particularly in gang-contested areas such as Bas Artibonite, Cité Soleil, Bel-Air, Martissant, Delmas, Croix-des-Bouquets, Pétion-Ville and surrounding areas, Cap-Haïtien, and certain cities in the Nord-Ouest region.
- Macroeconomic outlook: since April, the gourde has appreciated against the US dollar following measures taken by the Haitian Central Bank to offset the shortage of US currency on the local market and reduce speculation in foreign exchange transactions. Thus, this appreciation will not be sustainable and could be reversed at any time due to the insufficiency of public revenues and foreign exchange reserves in relation to public spending and import requirements. An average year-on-year appreciation of around 38 per cent is possible and, consequently, general inflation of at least the same level as observed in the previous period, i.e., in the 40-50 per cent range.
- Despite its downward trend since April, food inflation is likely to remain above the five-year average, due to the long-term trend of depreciation of the national currency and the low availability of local products.
- According to World Bank forecasts, Haiti's GDP is expected to contract by 1.1 per cent in 2023, a trend observed since 2018.
- Source of income: the poor performance of the spring, summer, and fall harvests, as well as the residual impact of climatic, socio-political, and economic shocks, will have a negative impact on farmers' financial capacity to finance their farming activities on a normal basis. This will lead to a reduction in the supply of labor from better-off households. As a result, farm workers' incomes will be below average.
- The income generated from the sale of spring agricultural products is anticipated to be below average due to reduced production, disruptions in the supply chain caused by insecurity, and higher production prices relative to income, which will not be offset by the positive effect of higher agricultural product prices.
- The downward trend in remittances from Haitian migrants observed in 2022 is set to continue in 2023, due to the insecurity that is forcing many recipients to leave the country and join the diaspora abroad. In addition, the income from migration will remain below average due to the increasingly limited employment opportunities for Haitians, particularly in the Dominican Republic.
- Charcoal sales could generate lower revenues than the five-year average during the outlook period due to recurrent disruptions caused by insecurity. These disruptions compromise supplies and the regular functioning of markets.
- The textile sector will continue to witness job losses as a significant number of industries in this sector shut down, and orders come to a halt due to the prevailing unfavorable security situation.
- Income from petty trade, particularly in gang-controlled areas, would be below average from June to September 2023.
- Between October 2023 and January 2024, the anticipation of the end-of-year festivities is likely to improve the security situation and encourage a resurgence of informal income-generating economic activities.
- Prices and markets: supplies to markets, particularly those in the capital, are likely to remain disrupted due to cuts linked to the socio-political unrest during the period and to the control exercised by armed gangs in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. These disruptions will restrict the movement of goods and people in other provincial cities, particularly in the Grand Sud, Grand Nord and Centre regions.
- Limited traffic would affect demand and supply, particularly from June to September when people need to go to the markets to purchase food. Between October and January, demand could return to its normal level during the Christmas and New Year season.
- Imported food commodity prices are likely to remain higher than in 2022, and even higher than the five-year average. These atypically high prices are due to the upward trend on the international market, the depreciation of the exchange rate, and difficulties in supplying local and regional markets because of insecurity and the high cost of public transport.
- Local food prices are likely to follow their usual seasonal trend. However, given the high cost of transport and the decline in production, they will also remain above last year's level and their five-year average.
- As long as the crisis in Ukraine persists, seed and fertilizer prices are expected to remain significantly above average due to a contraction in supply, resulting in higher prices in the international markets.
- The shortage of fuel, primarily caused by insecurity and limited import capacity due to the lack of foreign currency and low storage capacity, is expected to persist. This situation will lead to elevated fuel prices on the informal market and subsequently result in high food prices.
- Humanitarian assistance: according to the Food Security Cluster and the Cash Transfers Working Group, food assistance planned for 2023 will have two components: i) distribution of food in kind or food vouchers and ii) distribution of cash transfers. Around 2.4 million people are targeted for emergency assistance this year. Monthly plans for the number of beneficiaries suggest that all departments will receive some form of assistance. But priority will be given to the departments of Ouest, in the communes of Cité Soleil, Cabaret, and Port-au-Prince (3rd district), which are experiencing armed violence, Nord-Ouest (Port-de-Paix, Jean Rabel), Artibonite, and the regions recently hit by floods at the beginning of June. FEWS NET does not have sufficient information about the size of the food rations that will be distributed. However, the cash distributed will not enable beneficiary households to cover more than 20 per cent of their food requirements, based on the cost of the national food basket.
Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes
The period from June to September coincides with the spring harvest and the start of the summer/fall campaign. This should generate income from crop sales for farmers and indirectly for farm workers. Increased availability of local products such as beans, maize, rice and harvested products (bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes) should help to temporarily improve food availability and accessibility for the very poor households. However, except for mangoes and a few other crops (breadfruit, roots, and tubers), the anticipated poor performance of the spring season, combined with the impact of bad weather in early June, is compromising these results.
Therefore, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain widespread on household food and income sources in rural Haiti. This will also be true for most of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, because of gang violence, high inflation, and the climatic and socio-political shocks affecting the whole country (Ouest, particularly the communes of Léogane and Fond-Verrettes). The area of greatest concern remains the commune of Cité Soleil in the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area (Ouest), which suffered by gang violence and food and livelihood protection deficits, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected. Food assistance needs are expected to be the greatest in the wake of the bad weather, which has exacerbated already precarious food security conditions by increasing the prevalence of cholera.
The period from October to January coincides with the summer-fall harvests (maize, peas, roots, and tubers, among others) in November in the humid mountains, and with the start of the winter season in the irrigated plains and semi-humid mountains. Moreover, the end-of-year period is usually a time when non-agricultural income-generating activities such as casual labor, petty trade, and the sale of charcoal in urban areas take place, alongside the generally increasing remittances from abroad. Nevertheless, income from labor and the sale of seasonal agricultural produce will remain below average, due to the economic, socio-political, and climatic shocks. The rising cost of inputs and the insecurity preventing farmers from selling their products will leave them with insufficient capacity to plant land normally, hire farm workers, or purchase inputs. At the same time, the purchasing power of total income from non-agricultural activities, even in the context of the end-of-year festivities, will be lower than normal, given the widespread inflation, especially in food and public transportation, which characterizes the Haitian economy.
As a result, poor households will not have the purchasing power to meet their minimum kilocalorie requirements, further reducing the amount of kilocalories absorbed by the poor and very poor. Acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across the country. In the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area, particularly in gang-controlled areas such as Cité Soleil, the disruption to economic activity and the generally high prices of basic foods will result in prolonged food consumption gaps among poor and very poor households. A growing number of households will be able to sell off their productive assets and engage in emergency negative coping strategies, as before, in the context of the proliferation of cholera and the somewhat atypical levels of acute malnutrition. Cité Soleil will continue to experience an Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the outlook period.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
Impact on food security outcomes
Alleviation of gang insecurity and violence
The decline in violence would have a positive impact on the functioning of the economy and markets, leading to a rapid resumption of formal and informal activities. This would improve food availability and access, reducing the number of households adopting negative coping strategies. As a result, fewer areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Cité Soleil, an improvement in the situation would therefore be likely, moving from an Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to a Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Normal distribution of fuel and its sale at normal price across the country
All companies and institutions, including hospitals, will resume their normal working hours. A reduction in the cost of transport will help reduce inflation. As a result, fewer areas would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Improvement of rainfall conditions
An increase in rainfall and its more or less normal distribution will have a positive effect on seasonal crops and lead to an increase in pasture and water available for livestock. A good performance in the fall 2023 agricultural season will be expected. It will also have a positive impact on the livelihoods of the very poor households and as a result, reduce the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) adn Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Security situation: insecurity is intensifying across the Haitian capital. Th current "Bwa Kalé" movement, aimed at dismantling gangs, is a radical response by the population to this lack of security. This has led to an increase in acts of violence in the poorer areas of the capital. In addition, the rival gangs in Cité Soleil have ended their truce and clashes have resumed.
Furthermore, according to IOM, up to March 2023, the total number of displaced persons has reached more than 173,000, of whom almost 46,000 have returned to their homes. Despite the resurgence of armed clashes in Cité Soleil, there have been no major influxes of internally displaced persons (IDPs), as was the case last year. Of the more than 9,000 IDPs in April 2023 in the Ouest department, 1,604, or 18 percent of those displaced, were from Cité Soleil. The new IDPs observed in this area are due more to the bad weather that hit the metropolitan region between June 2 and 3, 2023. According to the IOM, 1,166 families (5,009 people) have moved and are staying in some kind of center. Of these, 755 families (3,270 people), or more than 65 percent, are from this commune.
Markets and prices: the security situation around the Croix-des-Bossales market has deteriorated since April, with the resumption of armed clashes in Cité Soleil. The recurring conflict focused on control of this economically lucrative market, which extends across the entire metropolitan area. The resumption of fighting is jeopardizing the flow of goods and money, adversely affecting supply and demand for both local and imported products.
The price of local products, black beans and maize grain, was 570 and 1,040 gourdes per six-pound pot respectively in May. Year-on-year and compared with the five-year average, the price of these two products was highly atypical, fluctuating upwards by almost 100 per cent due to the lean season.
The six-pound pot of imported rice sold at an average price of 725 gourdes in December fell by more than 12 and 6 per cent respectively in January and February 2023, to 640 and 600 gourdes. This trend continued until March, followed by relative stability in April and May, following the appreciation of the exchange rate. Compared with the five-year average, the price of rice is continuing its highly atypical behavior, rising by more than 100 per cent.
Source: FEWS NET
Sources of income: the rise in insecurity and armed clashes in Cité Soleil, Martissant, and Pétion-Ville is having an impact on the informal income-generating activities of the very poor, such as street food sales and petty trade. In addition, the real value of incomes is falling considerably as a result of food inflation, standing at 48.1 percent in March. This is more crucial as the market remains the main source of food for all sections of the population. Purchasing power fell by 48.3 percent, compared with 53 per cent in February. Economic access continues to deteriorate significantly, with overall revenues below average.
Humanitarian assistance: according to the Food Security Cluster in Haiti, 64,420 people received assistance between January and March 2023, 97 per cent of which was emergency food assistance. In May, this commune absorbed more than 41 percent of the beneficiaries (more than 95,000 people) of the food assistance provided to the Ouest department. In addition, of the 105,000 beneficiaries likely to receive cash assistance in June (vouchers, food stamps), 20,000 are residents of this commune. However, the number of food assistance beneficiaries (around 22 percent of the population of the municipality) has not reached the desired minimum threshold, i.e., 25 per cent of the population of the area.
Cash transfers to poor households in the area are done on a bimonthly basis, with the average targeted household receiving 13,200 gourdes, or 6,603 gourdes per month, depending on the situation. An analysis in terms of covering food needs shows that this amount represents barely 24 per cent of the cost of the food basket calculated by the CNSA (27,850 gourdes on average per month). Moreover, the products in this basket (1,870 kilocalories) do not represent the minimum kilocalorie requirement (2,100 kcal). The current amount of cash transfers covers barely 21 per cent of the food basket of 2,100 kilocalories.
Nutritional situation: according to the SMART survey conducted by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM-WHZ, the z-score of the weight-for-height ratio) in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is 4.8 per cent, indicating Acceptable malnutrition (IPC AMN Phase 1). However, the impact of the armed violence, the deterioration in food security conditions, and the cholera outbreak in the areas affected could indicate more severe malnutrition than the results of the SMART survey. Moreover, the MSPP has expressed reservations about the quality of the data collected in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, particularly in the commune of Cité Soleil, given the extreme difficulty of access due to insecurity during the SMART survey in January 2023. UNICEF's findings show that this violence has contributed to an increase in the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
In addition to the assumptions at national level, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
- Food products will still be available, although market supplies may be disrupted from time to time.
- Income from casual work will always be below normal impacted by gang violence
- According to the food security cluster, poor and very poor households will continue to benefit from emergency food assistance.
The price of staple foods, particularly rice, which is expected to fluctuate between 600 and 900 gourdes per pot (Figure 10), will remain above last year's levels and the five-year average due to the depreciation of the gourde against the dollar and the rising cost of urban transportation
Source: FEWS NET/CNSA
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
During the period from June to September, food consumption will continue to be based primarily on purchases at markets. There will be no change in the diet of the poor and very poor, as the cost of the food basket is still high. Households will continue to have very difficult access to their usual sources of income and therefore to food due to high food inflation, the depreciation of the gourde, and precarious living conditions characterized by a growing prevalence of acute malnutrition and cholera. They will still not be able to meet their basic food needs without resorting to adaptive coping strategies or receiving additional emergency food assistance. Because the poorest people will still have to cope with food deficits resulting from their lack of income, they will be forced to rely on the consumption of food with little nutritional value, begging, mutual aid, sending their children to eat elsewhere, or selling productive personal items. Adopting these negative emergency strategies will keep them in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Poor and very poor households will be able to access near-average incomes from October to January given the general economic dynamism and the truce taken by the gangs during the festive season. Nevertheless, the decline in the purchasing power of incomes will still have a significant impact on the quantity and quality of their food consumption, given the basic prices resulting from the increase in overall demand for goods and services. Food deficits at household level may decrease moderately, but food assistance will still be needed to make up for food deficits in certain households in the area, particularly families with members suffering from malnutrition, such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, the disabled, orphans, or people living on the streets. These households will continue to adopt emergency coping strategies to maintain their normal level of consumption. As a result, emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will continue to be observed.
Seasonal progress: the start of the 2023 spring agricultural season was delayed by the prolonged drought from November to mid-April. Normal rainfall from mid-April to the end of May enabled some farmers to sow maize and beans, particularly those who could afford to buy seed at a very high price, well above normal. However, the heavy rains (315 mm in Baie de Henne and 128 mm in Bombardopolis) on June 3rd caused significant damage to existing crops (compaction and leaching), animals (disappearance and death), and hydro-agricultural infrastructure, among others.
Source: FEWS NET
Although all the communes in the area were badly hit by the heavy rains, the situation in the commune of Baie de Henne was catastrophic. The irrigated area of this municipality, which represents less than one per cent of the total surface area of the municipality (or 160 hectares according to the Municipal Agricultural Office), was more than 90 per cent destroyed by the downpours on June 3rd, according to the Municipal Agricultural Office for the Baie de Henne/Bombardopolis district.
Initial assessments report the disappearance or death of around 900 livestock, as well as the loss of between 4 and 5 lives in the Baie de Henne commune. The harvest forecast for June in the Nord-Ouest zone (HT01) is estimated to be less than 50 per cent of a normal year, due to damage caused by bad weather.
Food availability: the main sources of food for very poor households are, in descending order, the market, their own crops, and donations. However, the market is mainly supplied by imported products, which are not very accessible to the very poor due to their high prices. As a result of the extensive damage, harvests from their own crops are well below average. Although mango is available in sufficient quantities, damage caused by bad weather will result in a premature end to the harvest. In addition, donations for the very poor are also below average, as the ability of middle-income and well-off households to offer aid has been affected by the overall crisis in the country and in this region.
Price trends: wholesalers in the area mainly source products from the United States, the Dominican Republic, Port-au-Prince, Port-de-Paix, Gonaïves, and Cap-Haïtien. However, the very poor individuals purchase their goods from communal markets in the region, where prices are typically higher than those observed in markets such as Port-au-Prince, Port-de-Paix, Gonaïves, and Cap-Haïtien. These increased prices are attributed to transaction costs and traders' profit margins. Supply levels are below the five-year average, due to the decline in local agricultural production and the impact of bad weather and insecurity on market supplies, particularly of imported products. The appreciation of the national currency against the US dollar and the Dominican peso has led to a slight decrease in the prices of certain products such as flour and oil. Nevertheless, prices remain high and above the five-year average due to insecurity, which forces traders to take longer routes, increasing transport costs and, consequently, cost prices, all other things being equal). As a result, the products remain inaccessible to the very poor, who already have a meagre income.
Sources of income: the main sources of income for very poor households in Haiti are all irregular, such as agricultural labor, fishing, and charcoal-making, as well as the sale of agricultural products and small-scale informal trade. Road insecurity, inflation, erratic weather conditions, and a lack of investment in these sectors have resulted in fewer job opportunities and below-average incomes. Fishing was particularly affected by the decline in demand and the bad weather of early June, with the loss of fishing equipment. In addition, fishermen face difficulties such as vandalism by Bahamian fishermen, the lack of refrigeration to preserve catches, and insecurity on the roads, which limits supplies to the markets. Fishing catches have fallen by around 40 percent compared with the year in which the baseline was set (2013/2014), with no proportional price compensation. Charcoal production has also fallen by at least 20 percent due to insecurity, but the price did not follow the inflation in basic food products.
Existing crops have suffered considerable losses, estimated at more than 50 per cent on average, in a context where the 2022 spring cropping season had already seen losses of up to 95 per cent for maize and more than 50 per cent for pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), due to the spatio-temporal irregularity of the rains, among other factors. The decrease in the income of potential buyers has reduced demand for petty trade, while begging, although a minor source of income, has increased to make up for the current food consumption deficits
In addition to the assumptions at national level, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
- Insecurity on the roads leading into the area will continue throughout the scenario period, as the root causes of the socio-political crisis and the proliferation of armed gangs have not been addressed.
- The income derived from casual labour in the charcoal industry is predicted to be below the five-year average. This decline is a result of reduced demand for charcoal due to insecurity on the road networks, leading to a slowdown in the flow of charcoal transported by lorries between Port-au-Prince and Port-de-Paix. Consequently, this situation is likely to limit the supply of labour in the sector.
- Income from casual work in the fishing industry would be below the five-year average due to the drop in sales caused by the lack of safety on the roads. Despite intensified fishing efforts aimed at keeping catch levels stable, this will prevent fishermen from selling their products on the Gonaïves market. They will therefore be forced to sell them in Anse-Rouge or other local markets at relatively lower prices, giving them a lower than normal return on their investment. As a result, the labor supply in the fishing industry will decrease, as will workers' incomes.
- Small business income will be below normal throughout the scenario period due to reduced demand as a result of lower purchasing power due to inflation.
- Food availability of local and imported products will be below average due to insecurity disrupting the supply chain, but also due to the decline in harvests.
- The price of local black beans in Port-de-Paix will rise between June and August, then fall moderately until January. The summer/fall bean season could be compromised by the drought that has already affected the spring season.
- The price of a six-pound pot of black beans will vary between 1,200 and 1,700 gourdes, significantly higher than last year and the average for the last five years (Figure 12).
Source: FEWS NET/CNSA
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
All sources of income and food are below average, while the prices of the main food staples are above average. Very poor households account for more than 50 percent of the area's total population, live in remote and inaccessible areas, and consequently receive little or no food assistance. They depend on the market for more than 80 percent of their consumption. The results of a rapid food security assessment conducted by FEWS NET in May 2023 revealed highly inadequate diets and significant food consumption deficits for these households, corresponding to acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes with households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Nutritional data from the MSPP in January 2023 compared with data published three years earlier showed an increase in the GAM rate from 3.9 percent to 5.1 percent (with a rate of 5.4 percent in Môle Saint-Nicolas, 5.7 per cent in Bombardopolis, and 5.7 percent in Jean Rabel). Although the GAM rate only deteriorated to the Alert threshold (5 - 9.9 per cent), corresponding to acute food insecurity Stressed (IPC Phase 2), it still represents an increase of more than 40 percent over this period. Levels of acute malnutrition have probably deteriorated since January. Key informants currently describe a critical nutritional situation, with visible signs of malnutrition among the very poor and their children, such as weight loss and yellowing of the hair.
Since January, the nutritional situation has deteriorated further due to the loss of spring season, amplified by the heavy rains at the beginning of June, which severely affected Baie-de-Henne and Bombardopolis. Nutrition and food security and livelihoods are expected to deteriorate throughout the projection period due to erratic rainfall, road insecurity, below-average local production, increased dependence on imported food, and general and food inflation. The rate of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is likely to exceed the emergency threshold of 2 per cent set by the WHO, particularly in the communes of Jean Rabel, Bombardopolis, and Môle Saint Nicolas.
The majority of very poor households will continue to adopt current crisis and emergency coping strategies to make up part of their food consumption deficit. The main emergency coping strategies include begging, theft, juvenile delinquency, the sale of agricultural assets such as land and farming tools, and the sale of their last breeding animals. The main crisis coping strategies include increasing fishing time, taking children out of school, asking neighbors, family or friends for food assistance and eating unusual foods (boiled mangoes, dried mangoes, fish species not usually eaten). Emergency coping strategies will be adopted by many very poor households, which represent more than 50 percent of the total population of the Nord-Ouest-HT01 area.
However, despite the overall shortfall in food consumption, child malnutrition rates are not significantly affected, suggesting that households may have other ways of coping with the situation, or that the number of people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) remains below the 20 percent threshold. When data on food consumption, livelihoods and acute malnutrition are brought together, the situation is becoming increasingly serious, with results in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Haiti Food security outlook June 2023 to January 2024: floods in early June cause major damage to crops, 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.