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Despite falling inflation, insecurity and agricultural production deficits lead to widespread acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Haiti

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • October 2023 - May 2024
Despite falling inflation, insecurity and agricultural production deficits lead to widespread acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Haiti

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Ouest HT07 Bean, banana, and small-scale trade, Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement (Figure 5)
  • Bean, banana, and small-scale trade livelihood zone (HT07) in Grand-Anse (Figure 7)
  • Key Messages
    • Recurrent armed clashes between rival gangs in downtown Port-au-Prince, particularly in Cité Soleil, are disrupting markets and income-generating activities for the most vulnerable households. The impact of violence on their access to food and income leads to significant deficits in food consumption and livelihood protection. This forces them to resort to emergency coping strategies, such as begging, sending household members elsewhere to eat, and juvenile delinquency. Acute food insecurity Emergency (IPC Phase 4) persists in this commune.
    • In addition to gang violence disrupting sources of income, high year-on-year inflation, although trending downwards since February 2023 (Central Bank of Haiti, 2023), and poor employment opportunities due to the sluggish Haitian economy, continue to strain the purchasing power of poor and very poor households. Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) anticipates that the irregular rainfall and above-average temperatures experienced during the spring, summer, and autumn crop production seasons of 2023 will lead to a 4 to 5 percent decline in maize and rice production compared to the five-year average. Small farmers generally reserve seed from their own harvest for the next planting season, but the decrease in production is expected to reduce these reserves. Buying seed tends to be prohibitively expensive for this population. 
    • Thus, reduced access to inputs, combined with growing insecurity, should reduce the planted area for the 2024 spring season from March to May. This will lead to lower-than-normal demand for labor, resulting in below-average incomes already impacted by inflation. The resulting food consumption deficits will lead poor and very poor households to resort to crisis strategies such as intensifying the sale of charcoal and animals, consuming seeds and food with low nutritional value, and buying food on credit, among others. Except for a few communes in Grand Sud, Ouest, Nord, and Bas Plateau, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) remains widespread across the country.
    • The worsening food security situation over the outlook period is expected to increase the number of people in need of food aid in areas classified as being in Crisis, in addition to Cité Soleil which is classified in Emergency phase. However, emergency food aid from January to September 2023, in kind and in the form of cash transfers, could only cover less than 2 percent of the country's total population on a monthly basis. This emergency food aid coverage is less than 10 percent of the number of people in need. 

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Insecurity: The security situation is deteriorating further, with a resurgence of kidnappings and armed clashes in August and September. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of socio-political violence events and deaths has gradually increased over the last five years. Indeed, in September 2023, this number exceeds the five-year average for September and the figures for September 2022 by more than 45 percent and 20 percent respectively (Figure 1). In their pursuit for territorial expansion, gangs are causing violence through clashes, assaults, and the abduction of civilians, especially in the Ouest (Port-au-Prince) and Centre departments. Previously unaffected neighborhoods in these areas have become targets for armed individuals, compelling residents to flee. As a result of these attacks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported a high number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), nearly 195,000, from January to August 2023. The report points out that 93 percent of these displaced persons is due to gang violence, and most of them have taken refuge in schools or public sites. The displaced persons come mostly from downtown Port-au-Prince, including Cité Soleil, Bas de Delmas, Croix-des-Bouquets, Canaan, Carrefour Feuille, and Tabarre. When displaced, individuals left everything behind and are deprived of almost everything in their new home.

    In addition to internally displaced persons, insecurity continues to disrupt economic activity, public transportation and, in turn, the functioning of markets, particularly in urban areas. This is particularly concerning as public transportation of goods and people is still subject to the payment of illegal tolls imposed by armed gangs who still control most of the roads, in particular the national roads linking Port-au-Prince to Nord (RN1), Sud (RN2), and Centre (RN3). This is impacting the flow of goods and the supply of markets throughout the country.

    Figure 1

    Changes in the number of events, September 2019 – September 2023
    Evolution du nombre des évènements

    Source: ACLED

    Rainfall conditions and agricultural season evolution: With the exception of the heavy precipitations recorded in the first and last ten days of June, and in the first ten days of August, (rainfall volumes between 53 and 188 percent above the ten-day average) total cumulative precipitation from April to September was 50 percent below average. Short-term deficits were even larger, exceeding 50 percent during some 10-day tracking periods in May and August and reaching 40 percent during the last 20 days of September. The volatility of rainfall from June to September nevertheless favored the development of certain crops (e.g., pigeon peas, cassava, sugarcane, and bananas) and fodder, which are more drought-resistant and consume less water, but did not benefit other crops, such as beans and rice. This compounds the situation as previous harvests did not generate enough income to finance the summer and autumn campaigns.

    Macroeconomic context: After several consecutive years of contraction, the Haitian economy continues to face multiple difficulties. The absence of political governance and the persistent security crisis, as well as climatic and health-related shocks, have had a significant impact on the country's economic activity. For example, the cyclical index of economic activity (ICAE), calculated by Haiti Institute of Statistics (IHSI), showed a contraction in economic activity of -2.1 percent during the second quarter of 2023, contributing to the decline in national output for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Thus, the macro-economic framework in Haiti is marked by unemployment, inflation, exchange rate volatility, fiscal, and trade balance deficits, among others. This situation has further highlighted the major challenges facing the country. 

    Additionally, during the first half of 2023, a decline of around 9 percent in remittances or migrant transfers was recorded, an atypical trend in times of crisis in Haiti, as the Prime Minister indicated in the framework letter for the 2023-2024 draft budget. According to the letter, exports, which account for an average of 40 percent of GDP, fell by around 21 percent in the first five months of the year, directly attributable to company closures, particularly in the textile-based manufacturing sector.

    The Haitian gourde appreciated by 13.8 percent from April to September, bringing the value of the exchange rate back to levels last observed in November 2022 (Figure 2). Despite this improvement, the exchange rate is still 13 percent lower when comparing the level of September 2023 (134.7 HTG to 1 USD) to that of September 2022 (116.5 HTG to 1 USD) (BRH, 2023). This situation has helped to keep prices persistently high in relation to the low purchasing power of poor households, who do not have adequate income to meet their basic food needs. 

    Figure 2

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

    Source: BRH

    Annual headline inflation remains high, still in double digits at 32 percent in September, although it has been on a downward trend for over six months (Figure 3). Transport and food remain the main drivers of inflation, albeit on a downward trend. Food inflation decreases from April to September, from 48 percent to almost 29 percent on an annual basis. A similar trend was observed for transport costs, with the rate dropping progressively from 121 percent in January to almost 95 percent in July. This decline is due to the improved availability and distribution of petroleum products nationwide, and also to the appreciation of the Haitian currency against the US dollar (USD). These factors led to a decline in the price of imported products and even local products.

    Figure 3

    Change in inflation rate by item, in percentage
    Evolution de l'inflation

    Source: IHSI

    Markets and prices: Markets operate normally at the national level, but with difficulty in the capital and in the Artibonite region due to security problems. In addition, the unilateral decision by the Dominican authorities to close land, air, and sea borders with Haiti in mid-September has had an impact on supplies to border markets and certain regions of the country, particularly for products such as eggs, oil, condiments, and flour. This situation results in an increase in the prices of these products on the Haitian market. Non-food products also show the same pattern in the wake of this unexpected inconvenience. Since 11 October, the Dominican authorities have decided to reopen the border on their side, while the local Haitian authorities, under pressure from the Ouanaminthe population, are keeping their border closed until further notice. Meanwhile, the Dominicans set fire to Haitian warehouses in the binational Dajabon market. As a result, Haitians have become so angry with the Dominicans that trucks transporting goods from the Dominican Republic to Haiti have been attacked. Despite these isolated incidents, markets are mainly supplied by imported foodstuffs (rice, flour, dried peas, among others), and local products from the September crops (such as maize, beans, and vegetables). Prices for local products monitored by FEWS NET (Figure 4), including maize and dry black beans, fell again by an approximate average of 13 and 5 percent, respectively, in September compared to August. Year-on-year, the upward fluctuations were lower than the previous period, at 16.4 and 14 percent, respectively. Except for edible oil, (whose average price rose by almost 10 percent over the same period), imported food products (e.g., rice and wheat flour), remained relatively stable, increasing by 2 and 4 percent, respectively. 

    It should be noted that the prices of these products showed this trend despite the high prices on the international market, particularly for rice. In fact, according to the September monthly report on the world rice market (Osiriz # 235), world rice prices were stable, having declined by 1.5 percent on average, due to an adjustment between export supply and world demand. However, they are still 40 percent higher than in 2022 and 15 percent higher than in June 2023. The appreciation of the local currency against the USD may be one plausible explanation for this trend. In addition, prices for these products remain very close to last year's levels (fluctuating within a range of 1 to 9.5 percent) but are still atypically above the five-year average of around 80 to 105 percent. 

    Figure 4

    Change in the average price in gourdes of basic cereals and dry black peas (HTG/kg), April 2019 to September 2023
    Èvolution du prix moyen en gourdes des céréales de base

    Source: FEWS NET

    Sources of income: In rural areas, poor households depend mainly on the sale of agricultural labor, charcoal, and fishery and agricultural products. According to the National Food and Nutrition Security Monitoring Survey (ENSSAN), conducted by the National Food Security Coordination (CNSA) in August 2023, the sale of agricultural products and labor is losing ground as the main source of income in rural areas to small-scale retail trade. In fact, 61 percent of rural households rely on small-scale retail trade as their primary source of income, while around 56 percent and 20 percent respectively rely on farming and the sale of farm labor as their main sources of income. This is also confirmed by the study of the off-farm income of very poor households, carried out in Haiti by FEWS NET in September1. According to this study, 74 percent of respondents said that small-scale trade and business were the predominant activity of very poor rural households, with the sale of labor coming second (60 percent of respondents).

    In fact, despite the current socio-economic crisis, small-scale trade is operating more or less normally, attracting more and more people as the agricultural sector's activities have failed to recover and have become less successful. As in the spring campaign, farmers have been preparing less land in recent years. This leads to a decrease in demand for farm labor compared with the average. At the same time, this generates less income, even though, in nominal terms, income is higher than average according to almost 70 percent of key informants, as the price of labor is higher than in previous years. 

    Furthermore, over 74 percent of respondents to the ENSSAN 2023 survey confirmed the scarcity of agricultural labor, with availability below normal levels. This is one of the reasons for the increase in the daily cost of agricultural labor throughout the country, which varies between 400 and 750 gourdes per day compared with last year. As a result, fewer and fewer working people are interested in farming. This concern was raised by respondents we spoke to during a field assessment conducted by FEWS NET in the Grand'Anse region in early September 2023. They emphasized the ageing of agricultural workers, in addition to the migration of the majority of workers to urban areas. In their opinion, there is no replacement, with individuals preferring to take up other employment, in particular motorcycle taxis, or to sell productive assets (land in particular) to migrate to Chile, Mexico, and Nicaragua, among other destinations.

    The scenario remains unchanged for the workforce engaged in charcoal production and sales which represent an important source of income, particularly for the poor and very poor who work as day laborers. These activities are around normal, as resource scarcity is driving up prices. Participation in charcoal collection is declining, so charcoal-producing workers earn more per pack and are therefore able to maintain their incomes. The average nominal income from this activity, ranging from 300 to 800 gourdes per day, did not vary during the second phase of the off-farm income survey. 

    Fishing: Fishing typically provides employment opportunities, albeit in limited numbers, in fishing areas like the south coast, Nord-Est, Nippes, Grand'Anse, Sud-Est, and lower Nord-Ouest. For some time, this sector has been experiencing a significant slowdown in activity, leading to decreased availability of fish products. Nearly 62 percent of key informants reported that poor households in their communities earn below-average incomes from fishing, while demand for fish products is growing. According to the same study, insecurity is not limiting the sale of products, but rather the lack of adequate means to practice the trade, the strong winds in the regions, and the high cost of production due to high fuel prices needed to operate the engines of the small fishing boats. 

    Livestock farming: Pigs, goats, and poultry for the poorest, play a significant role, contributing around 5 to 15 percent of overall household income. Nevertheless, income from livestock remains typically below average, due to the decline in production in this sector as a result of several factors: the residual effects of the drought in the first half of 2023; the prevalence of diseases such as Teschen and Newcastle, affecting pigs and poultry, respectively; and a lack of productive investment in this sector. 

    Migration: Migration to the Dominican Republic is becoming less important as a source of income for poor and very poor households in border areas over the past three years, marked by mass deportations and persecution of Haitians on Dominican soil. The latest events arising from the construction of a canal on the Massacre River on the Haitian side further complicate relations between the two peoples on both sides of the border. Many workers have been denied access to the neighboring Republic while others have left this territory voluntarily. Strict controls on migration by the Dominican authorities have led to increasingly large-scale deportations of Haitian citizens. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of repatriations of Haitian migrants has remained high since January 2023. In fact, repatriations to Haiti total nearly 104,000 people (over 9,000 in August 2023), the vast majority of whom (94 percent) come from the Dominican Republic. In addition to reducing income from migration, income-generating activities associated with the normal operation of the border – such as motorcycle taxis and goods transport – are paralyzed, thus reducing the income of this category of workers.

    Spread of cholera: Up to 27 September 2023, data from the Ministry of Public Health and Population showed 906 deaths due to cholera, while 59,442 patients showed symptoms and were hospitalized. In the same period, 3,920 confirmed cases and 66,205 other suspected cases were recorded. Deaths and cases of cholera are likely to be much higher than the Ministry of Health figures, as most are reported in poor communities and slums where patients are unlikely to have been tested.

    Malnutrition situation: The SMART survey in January 2023 showed levels of acute malnutrition overall in the acceptability (GAM PTZ < 5.0 percent) and alert (GAM PTZ 5 to 9.9 percent) ranges. Although their approach differs, the ENSSAN 2023 survey showed an almost similar nutritional situation, as far as global acute malnutrition (GAM) is concerned. As shown by SMART, the nutritional situation remains critical in certain communes of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, such as Tabarre (13.4 percent) and Croix-des-Bouquets (11.6 percent). 

    Emergency food aid: According to data from the Food Security Cluster, from January to September, the cumulative number of beneficiaries of emergency food aid (all types of assistance combined) amounted to almost 1.5 million people out of an estimated population of 11,724,763, i.e., almost 13 percent. It should be noted that the average monthly number of beneficiaries is around 164,000, or less than 2 percent of the total population reached, and that Ouest leads with nearly 475,000 beneficiaries (4 percent of the total population). In relation to the total number of people in need, food aid coverage is less than 10 percent.

    In addition, emergency assistance consists almost entirely of cash transfers, notably in the form of food stamps. The average monthly amount varies between 5,000 and 7,000 gourdes per family. For a minimum of 2100 kcal per person per day, and according to the cost of the CNSA food basket, these transfers cover less than 25 percent of the minimum calorific needs per day. 


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Calendrier saisonnier

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Apart from the increase in prices resulting from the sudden and unilateral closure of the border since 15 September by the Dominican government, staple food prices have so far shown a stable seasonal downward trend, fuelled by the availability of seasonal local produce and the appreciation of the gourde/US dollar exchange rate. However, food prices remain very high compared to last year and the five-year average, which is out of reach for very poor households who are seeing their incomes and their own crops decline. They continue to face difficulties in meeting their minimum needs in kilocalories, compared to the average cost of the basic food basket. 

    The purchasing power of poor and very poor households is still limited, due to low employment opportunities and the level of food and non-food inflation. Livelihoods remain fragile and severely disrupted in most areas. In the Metropolitan Area, notably Cité Soleil, recurrent armed clashes between rival gangs disrupt income-generating activities, forcing households to move frequently, in addition to the prevalence of cholera. This commune continues to face food and livelihood deficits. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) persists among households. 

    In irrigated and semi-humid areas, such as the Plaine des Cayes in Sud, part of Ouest, Nord-Ouest, Nippes, and some communes in Nord, where humidity conditions are better, harvests of maize and beans (although below average), as well as roots and tubers, have generated income. Inflation limits the purchasing power of these incomes, forcing very poor households to resort to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) strategies to maintain their current consumption. Such strategies include reducing non-essential spending, intensifying food purchases on credit, consuming non-preferred foods, and reducing adult consumption in favor of children. 

    In the rest of the country, the availability of food and income has been severely affected by climate shocks and the economic and security crisis, affecting all key sectors of economic life. Income-generating activities, such as agriculture, fishing, small-scale trade, daily and casual work, and household livelihoods are also disrupted. The current summer/autumn crop yields are almost below normal, and some communes in the departments of Ouest and other regions of the country have not even started this season. Poor and very poor households, which typically depend on the sale of their crops and labor, are increasing their own consumption of their produce in order to make up some of the shortfall caused by the fall in purchasing power. Those who live from agricultural labor and fishing are turning to other activities to meet their needs, such as non-agricultural labor, or to negative coping strategies such as intensified sale of charcoal and animals, and consuming seeds and food of low nutritional value, to maintain an acceptable level of food consumption. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is observed in the rest of the country. 

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to changes in the national context:

    Socio-political situation

    • Economic social unrest is likely to continue until 2024 due to high prices of basic foods and the closure of some private companies in the country due to insecurity, exacerbating extreme levels of poverty. An increase in insecurity-related protests over the period under review is likely, following the growing control of gangs over the capital's residential areas and the resulting population displacements.
    • Violence will continue to rise, surpassing levels in previous years, as gangs strengthen their hold on specific areas of the Haitian capital. Although the United Nations Security Council has approved the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti, such a deployment is unlikely to take place in the last quarter of 2023 due to the significant logistical challenges. Thus, the number of violent incidents and deaths is expected to exceed the average of 2022 and 2023 in areas such as Bas Artibonite, certain communes in Nord-Ouest, and the Metropolitan Area. 

    • Kidnappings are likely to increase over the outlook period due to the economic impact of sanctions on gang revenues in Port-au-Prince and the difficulties communities face in maintaining their self-defense efforts. At the same time, the northern and southern axes leading to the capital, as well as the one leading to the Central Plateau, will continue to face major access constraints throughout the scenario period, slowing down trade flows between the capital and the country's rural areas.

    Agro-climatology

    • According to NOAA, USGS, and the Climate Hazards Center, forecast models suggest that near-average precipitation and above-average temperatures are most likely during the second rainy season (August to October), then below-average for November and December. From February to April 2024, average and slightly above-average rainfall is forecast (NOAA).

    Agricultural production

    • Autumn and winter harvests are expected to be below average, due to the impact of the poor performance of spring harvests on the launch of these campaigns. In principle, part of the spring harvest is reserved for seeds for other crop years. The acquisition of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides at above-average prices, as well as farmers' limited ability to finance their farming activities themselves, and insecurity, will continue to force them to reduce their cultivated areas. According to USDA forecasts, total production of maize, sorghum, and rice will fall by 5 percent, 22 percent, and 4 percent, respectively, compared to the five-year average.
    • The current initiative to build a canal to tap the Massacre River and others in various parts of the country, in particular Nord and Nord-Ouest, could lead to an increase in useful agricultural land in these areas. This could also boost demand for labor from middle-income and affluent farmers, who will primarily use irrigation water for soil preparation and sowing activities in spring 2024 (March to May).
    • Overall, the poor performance of the spring, summer, and autumn harvests, as well as the residual impacts 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 for the winter and spring seasons of 2024. This will reduce the demand for labor from affluent households. As a result, farm workers' incomes will be below average. Income from the sale of autumn and winter agricultural produce would thus be below average, due to lower production and disruptions to the distribution chain caused by insecurity.

    Macroeconomic outlook

    • The appreciation of the national currency will continue gradually throughout the forecast period. According to the global and regional market and trade outlooks, from October 2023 to January 2024, and from October to May, the gourde will appreciate by around 2.4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Compared with May 2023, the rate of appreciation in May 2024 would be around 12 percent.  Although the exchange rate has continued to show a downward trend since April, it will remain above both last year and the five-year average, which will have an impact on imported food prices.
    • Food inflation is expected to remain above the five-year average, due to the long-term trend of depreciation of the national currency, strong demand for imported food products due to the decreased availability of local produce, and the high cost of fuel on the Haitian market.

    • Although the economy is expected to contract further in 2024, the degree of contraction expected is easing, according to the Haitian government's analysis. While 2023 saw a negative economic growth rate of -0.7 percent, the government forecasts a slightly lower negative economic growth rate of -0.4 percent in 2024. 

    Markets and food prices

    • Despite the reopening of the border on the Dominican side, trade will not be able to resume as long as the Haitian authorities keep the border points on their side closed. This will continue to have a negative impact on supplies to local markets, and therefore on the availability of certain food products imported from the Dominican Republic, mainly vegetable oil, wheat flour, and eggs. In turn, an increase in the prices of such products remains possible, at least during the first period of the scenario.
    • Supplies to the capital's markets are likely to remain disrupted in view of possible socio-political unrest during the period and the control exercised by armed gangs in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. 

    Other sources of household income

    • Charcoal sales could generate lower income than the five-year average during the period under review, due to recurrent disruptions caused by insecurity, which disrupt supplies and the regular functioning of markets.

    • The decline in Haitian migrant remittances observed in 2022 and 2023 may continue over the outlook period. The income from migration will remain below average due to the increasingly reduced employment opportunities for Haitians, particularly in the Dominican Republic. These opportunities will be further eroded by the general closure of the border and the voluntary return of Haitian migrants to their country due to the ill treatment they suffered in the Dominican Republic. 

    • Between October and January, an upsurge in income-generating economic activity remains possible, due to the end-of-year festivities. In this scenario, income from small-scale trade would be close to average for the first four months of the most likely scenario.

    Humanitarian assistance

    • Humanitarian food assistance is planned for the rest of 2023 and until June 2024. According to data shared by the Haiti Food Security Cluster, emergency food aid will cover less than 2 percent of the total population. In addition, the amount of assistance in terms of monthly cash transfers will cover less than 25 percent of the beneficiaries' minimum caloric needs, considering a food basket of 2,100 kilocalories from the CNSA. Finally, FEWS NET does not have access to data at department or commune level and is therefore unable to analyze whether food aid deliveries will reach at least 25 percent of households, according to the threshold set by the IPC 3.1 protocols.

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    The period from October 2023 to January 2024 coincides with the summer/autumn harvests, typically consisting of maize, peas, roots, and tubers in the semi-humid mountains, and with the start of the winter season in the irrigated plains and humid mountains. Moreover, the end-of-year period is typically 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 during this period. Nevertheless, income from labor and the sale of seasonal agricultural produce will remain below average, due to the ongoing economic, socio-political, and climatic shocks. The high cost of agricultural inputs and especially the insecurity that prevents farmers from selling their products will leave them with insufficient capacity to plant land normally, hire farm workers, or buy inputs. At the same time, the purchasing power of income from non-agricultural activities, even in the context of the end-of-year festivities, will be lower than normal, given the widespread inflation in food and non-food products, which generally characterizes the Haitian economy.

    As a result, the food deficits of the poorest will not be covered either by harvests, which are insufficient, or by emergency food aid, which covers on average less than 20 percent of the population in need of emergency assistance. Thus, the results of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) are likely to remain widespread for rural households, which will still be engaged in crisis strategies such as intensifying the sale of charcoal and animals, consuming seeds and food with low nutritional value, and buying food on credit. This will also be true for most of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan areawhich is plagued by gang violence, among other impacts. The area of greatest concern remains Cité de Soleil, where the severe impact of violence on household access to food and income leads to significant deficits in food consumption and livelihood protection. Households will therefore have to resort to emergency strategies, in particular begging, sending household members elsewhere to eat, and juvenile delinquency. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will persist. 

    Between February and May 2024, the dominant activity will initially be the winter harvests, which will reach their peak in February in the irrigated plains and humid mountains. Beans, roots, tubers, and bananas must be harvested for sale at the markets. It will also be harvesting time for seasonal crops such as pigeon peas, traditional peas, cowpeas, and market garden products. However, as they contribute little to the total agricultural production, the supply of food products to poor households will remain predominant. As a result, these harvests will rapidly be exhausted, making it impossible to build up sufficient food reserves for the lean season. Not only do very few households build up reserves (less than 20 percent, according to ENSSAN 2021 data), but these reserves last less than a month. Then, as typical, farmers will begin preparations for the 2024 spring campaign in March. It should be noted that Sud and Grand'Anse usually start this campaign as early as February, with soil preparation and sowing activities, provided that rainfall conditions are favorable. The others start in March, with the exception of the Central Plateau, which launches its campaign in April. Income from the sale of farm labor and other sources will probably be close to average. 

    Nevertheless, the seasonal rise in prices and the resulting decline in income and therefore purchasing power, in the context of the lean season from March to June, will lead to a deterioration in livelihoods and increased pressure on food access for poor and very poor households. As before, they will continue to resort to crisis strategies to meet their food needs and will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In irrigated and semi-humid areas, where below-average summer/autumn harvests will be possible during the first outlook period, households will be able to build up food reserves, even for short periods. High commodity prices will continue to erode the purchasing power of their incomes. They will therefore have to resort, once again, to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) strategies to maintain their current consumption during the lean period.

    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 food products 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 (sales of production equipment, sales of durable goods) and engage in emergency negative coping strategies, as before, in the context of the proliferation of cholera and the atypical levels of acute malnutrition. Cité Soleil will continue to experience an Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the period under review. 

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalThe Haitian-Dominican border becomes functional again during the first period of the scenario

    The reopening of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could lead to an increase in the availability of certain food products, in particular eggs, wheat flour, and edible oil, which could lead to a drop in the prices of these products. In addition, households dependent on border activities, notably small traders and motorcyclists, will see their incomes increase. Thus, a decrease in the number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), although relatively small, would be possible especially in border areas.

    NationalInadequate coordination between the UN peacekeeping force and the Haitian authorities

    Inadequate coordination between the foreign military force and local authorities would risk generating conflict and tension, hampering the country's reconstruction and development efforts. Ultimately, if the objectives of the intervention are neither clearly defined/achievable, nor in line with the real needs of the population, mission failure can occur and worsen the security situation. As a result, there is a risk of an increase in the number of food-insecure households (Phase 3 and above) and the expansion of IPC Phase 3 and 4 zones.

    Production zonesFloods

    Prolonged and intense rains 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, and agricultural infrastructure. These consequences would lead to considerable economic losses for farmers and create food shortages in the affected communities. Intense rains/flooding can 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 in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Note: Unlike the previous Food Security Outlook, where Cité Soleil was the zone of greatest concern in Haiti, the Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement and Grand'Anse are now the zones of greatest concern. Cité Soleil is covered in detail in the national context.


    Ouest HT07 Bean, banana, and small-scale trade, Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement (Figure 5)

    Figure 5

    Map of the Ouest HT07
    zone de préoccupation Croix-des-Bouquets

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation 

    Seasonal progress: The area has lost its spring plantings, particularly of maize, its main cereal crop for the spring season. According to FEWS NET estimates, over 70 percent of annual maize production in the Ouest Department takes place in the spring. However, according to more than 64 percent of ENSSAN 2023 respondents in the Ouest HT07 zone, losses were very significant which negatively impacts the summer/autumn season. Apart from bananas, which are normally grown all year round, autumn crops are in jeopardy due to water deficits in the area and over 84 percent of farmers say they do not have adequate resources to launch this season.

    Insecurity has dealt a severe blow to agriculture in this area. There used to be a large farm on the Barbouin plain, growing sorghum to make beer and malta H (a non-alcoholic beverage made from malt or sorghum), at the instigation of businessman Gerry Mourra. The company 'Double Harvest' settled there, creating a farm also to grow sugar cane. These two farms are now closed, leaving many beneficiaries jobless, as a result of  the presence of the '400 Marre Roseau' gang in the area. This explains why more than 62 percent of people surveyed in the area said they were affected by negative events or shocks, such as drought and particularly insecurity. 

    Markets and prices: The main market in the area is Croix-des-Bouquets, supplied for the most part by Croix-des-Bossales. The latter rarely operates due to insecurity, which is very volatile in the lower part of Port-au-Prince. Armed clashes constantly break out. In spite of this, the market is normally supplied with local products such as market garden produce and beans, as well as imported products of all kinds, in particular rice, flour, oil, and peas, the most popular foodstuffs for the poorest consumers. 

    Food prices, both local and imported, are up since last year and compared to the five and three-year averages. The price of imported rice, for example, has fallen by more than 10 percent since May on average, with a six-pound pot selling for 500 gourdes in September. Year-on-year (September 2022 and September 2023) the price of this product is trending upwards, having risen by more than 22 percent. Compared with the average for the last three years, prices are still atypical, with a positive variation of 36 percent.

    Sources of income: Agricultural labor is the primary source of income for the very poor in the Ouest HT07 zone, contributing nearly 54 percent of annual income (around 65,000 gourdes in the reference year). Due to drought and insecurity, better-off farmers have had to flee the area, leading to a significant reduction in cultivated land and therefore in the demand for farm workers. Income from the sale of labor is below average. This forces most of the poorest to rely more heavily on pettytrade, which, according to ENSSAN 2023, contributes more than 54 percent to the income of the poorest. 

    Thus, petty trade has become the most dynamic activity in the area, even if income remains modest due to the socio-political crisis and especially insecurity. The Croix-des-Bouquets market is the main market for the area's products. Controlled by the '400 Marre Roseau' gang, this market is constantly disrupted by frequent gunfire which forces operators to pack up or flee, leaving their goods behind. Merchants are also extorted by members of this gang who, most of the time, demand large sums from traders, to operate in the market. To some extent, this impacted the income generated by petty trade.

    Cash transfers and the sale of wood and charcoal are complementary income-generating activities. According to ENSSAN survey 2023, their respective contribution to the income of the poorest is 22 percent and 8 percent. Money transfers are typically sent via mobile phone (Mon cash or Natcash) by relatives or friends living in other parts of the country. The sale of wood and charcoal is proceeding normally, despite the current situation in the area. In short, in addition to losses in agricultural production, losses in the real value of income from the sale of labor, small-scale trade and the sale of wood and charcoal have been recorded throughout the area, according to the analysis of results recently carried out by FEWS NET's Livelihood team.

    Humanitarian assistance: Due to recurrent gang attacks in the area, food aid only reaches the most accessible localities in Croix-des-Bouquets and does not reach the most remote areas where the poorest people live. Thus, out of a population of almost 310,000 people, barely 6 percent, or 17,820 (less than 1 percent of the total population), benefit from emergency assistance in terms of cash transfers, equivalent to 100 USD per month. For a minimum of 2100 kcal per person per day, and according to the cost of the CNSA food basket, this amount covers 43 percent of minimum caloric requirements.

    Nutritional situation: According to the most recent nutritional data available (ENSSAN 2023) the nutritional situation is minimal for the Ouest HT07 zone, which has a GAM rate of 4.5 percent. It is important to note that, despite the best situation observed during this survey, Croix des-Bouquets, after the municipality of Tabarre, has a GAM rate of 11.6 percent, equivalent to an IPC Phase 3 situation for this commune. 

    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 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 really hardly significant compared to farm labor.
    • Demand for farm workers, currently below average, could see some rebound with the start of the 2024 spring season, as rainfall prospects are normal. But it will remain below average, given the residual impacts of various shocks of 2022 and 2023.
    • The prices of imported basic food products (rice in particular) will maintain their downward trend, at least until the lean season (Figure 6). Prices for local and imported products (rice in particular) will remain above average atypically throughout the outlook period.
    • The persisting security crisis in the area will continue to limit household access to emergency food aid distributions.
    • Autumn and winter production will be below normal, due to water deficits, in addition to the lack of support for farmers, limiting their ability to launch the spring campaign. 

    Figure 6

    Croix des Bossales/Port-au-Prince: price of imported rice 4 percent broken observed and projected (HTG/6lbs)
    Croix des Bossales/Port-au-Prince : prix du riz importé 4 pour cent brisure observé et projeté

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In this context, very poor households will have to resort to crisis strategies (such as selling animals, wood, and charcoal more than is typical; buying on credit; and/or reducing the nutritional quality of daily meals) to maintain a normal level of food consumption. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will be observed throughout the area, with just under 5 percent of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), located mainly in the communes of Croix-des-Bouquets and Cornillon. Subjected to violence from armed gangs, notably the 400 Mawozo gang, these households had to leave their area, losing almost everything they owned. Others had already been affected by the closure of businesses and other commercial activities in the area since 2022, such as the case of the largest egg production company in the country, Haiti Broilers SA, located in the Croix-des-Bouquets arrondissement. Small-scale trade, one of the main activities of households, has been severely affected by insecurity in the area.

    In this context, very poor households will have to resort to crisis strategies (such as selling animals, wood, and charcoal more than is typical; buying on credit; and/or reducing the nutritional quality of daily meals) to maintain a normal level of food consumption. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will be observed throughout the area, with just under 5 percent of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), located mainly in the communes of Croix-des-Bouquets and Cornillon. Subjected to violence from armed gangs, notably the 400 Mawozo gang, these households had to leave their area, losing almost everything they owned. Others had already been affected by the closure of businesses and other commercial activities in the area since 2022, such as the case of the largest egg production company in the country, Haiti Broilers SA, located in the Croix-des-Bouquets arrondissement. Small-scale trade, one of the main activities of households, has been severely affected by insecurity in the area.

    The situation is not expected to change during the second period of the scenario, which coincides with the spring planting and the start of the lean season. There will not be any local agricultural products apart from bananas and some market garden products. Food consumption would be based primarily on purchases at markets which will remain limited due to the level of food inflation and low incomes. As a result, the food deficits observed in the first outlook period will persist from February to May 2024, or even worsen, due to the lean season, with its attendant adverse effects, in particular higher prices for basic food products. 


    Bean, banana, and small-scale trade livelihood zone (HT07) in Grand-Anse (Figure 7)

    Figure 7

    Boundary map of the Grand'Anse HT07 area of concern
    zone de préoccupation Grand'Anse

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Seasonal progress: From January to May 2023, the area experienced a long period of drought that had a negative impact on the spring crop season, resulting in below-average harvests. Maize and rice production for the 2023 spring season in the Grand'Anse department has been estimated by FEWS NET at 3,005 metric tons (mt) and 91 mt, respectively. The normalized vegetation index was well below average during this period. As a result, the soil reached the point of permanent wilting, and the majority of spring crops were subjected to excessive water stress which greatly affected their growth and yield. However, from June onwards, the trend changed, with rains favoring summer and autumn campaign activities and the vegetation index becoming average (Figure 8). Across most of the area, soil preparation, sowing, and weeding activities for the autumn season are underway. Crops observed during the September field mission (e.g., yams, maize, pigeon peas, potatoes, and bananas) are developing normally. 

    Figure 8

    Evolution of the Normalized Vegetation Index in Grand'Anse
    Indice de vegetation

    Source: USGS

    Livestock situation: The primary animals raised in the Grand'Anse HT07 area are goats and cattle, mainly owned by affluent households. The animals are currently in good physical condition due to the availability of fodder and water. However, the overall livestock situation is below average due to the decrease in livestock size caused by deaths from diseases and a lack of veterinary care, as well as sales to meet mandatory food and non-food expenses. The very poor have no cattle, and the number of goats obtained by herding is between zero and two, whereas the reference (2013/2014 baseline) was between zero and four. 

    Food availability: The three main sources of food are market purchase (around 65 percent), own agricultural production (15 percent), and payment in kind (10 percent). Difficult access to the area, high transport costs due to higher-than-average fuel prices, poor harvests, and road insecurity mean that market supplies and hence food availability are limited and below average. The area's main harvest product, breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), is not at its peak harvesting period, which is between June and July.

    Food assistance: Key informants report humanitarian assistance through programmes implemented by the Centre d'Étude et de Coopération Internationale (CECI) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on behalf of the MAST (Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor), but at a level insufficient to have a significant impact. In addition, this assistance is rarely targeted at very poor people. The most recent data on humanitarian assistance provided by the Food Security Cluster date back to August 2023. Around 5 percent of the total population receives food aid in the form of a cash distribution averaging 35 USD per household per month, or an average of 7 USD per person in a five-person household. According to the SPHERES standard stipulating a minimum caloric intake of 2,100 kcal per person per day, a food basket for one person/a month costs around 6,255 gourdes (CNSA), and for an exchange rate around 135 gourdes to the USD (Central Bank) in August, food aid covers between 15 and 16 percent of beneficiaries' minimum caloric needs.

    Malnutrition: There are no recent official nutritional data. However, direct observations in the field (September 2023), together with information obtained from health workers at the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and international organizations (Save the Children) working in the area, do not indicate an alarming nutritional situation. According to MSPP SMART survey data collected in January 2023, the global malnutrition rate (GAM-PTZ: MAM + SAM) in the Grand'Anse department is 3 percent (IPC Phase 1), below the national average of 5.1 percent. The rate of severe acute malnutrition is 1.4 percent, equal to the national average. According to ENSSAN 2023, this rate is around 3.5 percent, a level that still reflects a minimal situation, even if these two surveys are not methodologically comparable.

    Market and food prices: Markets are supplied with local products (municipal and departmental), but largely with imported products and below average supply. As at the national level, cereal supply in the area is below the five-year average, and demand remains fairly consistent overall, with cereals being a basic necessity. In addition, the high prices of basic foodstuffs, above their five-year average, and the low incomes of poor households make these products less accessible to them. 

    Sources of income: Main sources of income for the very poor include the sale of days' work, small-scale informal trade, and the sale of charcoal. Two other less important sources of income are the sale of crops and livestock. All of these sources are below normal. In fact, the sale of days' work, mainly related to agricultural labor, is below average due to the general decline in economic activity, as well as the drought that prevailed from January to May and impacted agricultural production and livestock farming, which negatively affected the ability of middle-income and affluent people to hire labor. As a result, the demand for labor from these categories is declining.

    Revenues from the sale of charcoal are below average due to the drop in demand caused by the decrease in transport by trucks transporting charcoal as a result of the rights of way demanded by armed gangs on national road number 2. Income from small informal trade is below average owing to the decline in solvent demand, which is due to the decline in buyers' income. Income from harvests and from the sale of animals is below average due to below-average harvests and declining livestock size.

    Assumptions 

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

    • Rainfall forecast models suggest near-average rainfall between August and October/November. These conditions would be favorable for the continuation of normal development (flowering, pod formation, and ripening) of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan). This would promote normal harvest ranges for this crop.
    • According to FEWS NET forecasts, maize and rice production in Grand Anse from July 2023 to June 2024 will be 40 percent and 30 percent below the five-year average, respectively.
    • Crop sales and small-scale trade are the two main sources of income for middle-income and affluent households. However, these two categories, which are the main employers of farm workers, had to cope with below-average income from harvesting (in spring and autumn 2023) and from small-scale trade. As a result, their ability to finance activities in the coming 2024 winter and spring agricultural seasons will be below average, resulting in a lower-than-average demand for farm labor during these two seasons, therefore impacting the sale of farm labor which is the main source of income for very poor households in the area.
    • Supplies to local markets will remain below average due to decreased local production and continued disruptions to the flow of goods on national road number 2, due to the insecurity that could persist even in the possible presence of foreign armed forces.
    • Except for the winter pigeon pea, income from which is estimated to be average, income from the sale of winter harvests is expected to be below normal due to the low yields of spring 2023, caused by the spatio-temporal irregularity of rainfall. These harvests did not generate enough income to finance the 2023/ to 2024 winter agricultural season, including expenses related to the purchase of seeds, soil preparation, and labor.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    All main sources of income and food are below average, while the prices of the main food staples are above the five-year average. Very poor households account for more than 50 percent of the area's total population, live in inaccessible areas, and consequently receive little to no food aid. These households depend on the market for more than 80 percent of their consumption.

    Given the high dependence of the very poor on the market for their food consumption, below-average income and food sources between October 2023 and January 2024, and above-average projected prices, the current situation of very poor households is characterized by a deficit in food consumption that will continue for the next four months. Thus, they will be forced to maintain or strengthen their crisis coping strategies to maintain the current level of food consumption by limiting portions in meals, going into more debt than typical, sending household members to eat elsewhere, and consuming early harvests, among other food consumption coping strategies. The area will therefore be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The households in Phase 4 of the area are located in the communes of Corail and Pestel, and they represent less than 5 percent of the total population of these communes. These are mainly poor households living in areas of difficult access who have very little, if any, agricultural land or other means of production, and who depend on the help of other families or neighbors who themselves encounter difficulties, and who do not benefit from food assistance.

    The period February to May 2024 coincides with the lean season, characterized by the seasonal exhaustion of autumn/winter harvests that are already below average and rising food prices. The dependence of the very poor on the market for consumption is increasing compared with the first period. Thus, the consumption deficit observed in the first period will widen because income from agricultural work, the sale of charcoal, informal small-scale trade, and the sale of livestock and harvests will not be able to cover consumption expenditure due to the continuous rise in prices. The majority of very poor households will continue to adopt current crisis and emergency coping strategies to make up their food consumption deficit. The main Emergency coping strategies include begging and stealing. The main Crisis coping strategies include taking children out of school; asking neighbors, family, or friends for food; and eating unusual foods. The area will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), but compared to the first period, an increase in the number of food-insecure households (IPC Phase 3 and Phase 4) is expected, with a peak in May.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Haiti Food Security Outlook October 2023 - May 2024: Despite falling inflation, insecurity and agricultural production deficits lead to widespread acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Haiti, 2023.

    1

    Off-farm income refers to all income in cash or kind generated outside the farm (i.e., all income not derived from one's own agricultural and livestock production).  OOFI surveys are conducted from a call centre by trained interviewers using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). The interviewees are local key informants 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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