REBUILDING THE FISHING SUPPLY CHAIN
PETITE RIVIERE DE NIPPES, HAITI
EWI’S EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE PROJECT, 2021
Henryka Manès, Executive Director
Saturday morning, August 14th, a powerful 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti’s southwestern peninsula. It affected the Departments (states) of Nippes, Grande Anse, and Sud. The latest information is 2,200 deaths, hundreds of people still missing, 13,000 injured, and about 230,000 homes that were either destroyed or heavily damaged. This earthquake was along the same fault line that moved during the 2010 earthquake (a tragedy we responded to immediately as we were already working in the country since 2009).
EWI’s team spent the first week of September in the earthquake zone assessing the damage, understanding the local needs, and deciding where EWI could make the greatest long-term impact.
A Fallen Building, Petite Rivière de Nippes, Photo H. Manès 2021
The Manolo Inn, Petite Rivière de Nippes, Photo H. Manès 2021
LOCATION: PETITE RIVIERE DE NIPPES
We selected to work in the District of Petite Rivière de Nippes, which has over 30,000 inhabitants, and whose economic mainstay is fishing. It is located only five miles from the quake’s epicenter. Our team has deep connections to this region.
Some homes, schools, churches, and hotels were levelled but, fortunately, there were very few losses of life because Saturdays schools are closed. Less visible, but equally critical, was the earthquake’s destruction of sea-based fishing infrastructure, which is vital to the local economy.
The EWI team has deep roots in Nippes which greatly facilitated our work.
The arrow indicates the Department of Nippes
World Atlas Map
1 – Frequently, EWI start its need assessment by focusing on women whose needs are often overlooked. First meeting: 300 women attended who represented five organization grouping 400 women. All are small merchants who sell fish. They all requested access to funding to reestablish their commerce. EWI agreed to provide funding for a microcredit project to assist these women.
A partial view of the 300 women attending EWI’s first meeting, 9/2/2021, Photo M. Carrié-Simon 2021
2 – While visiting fishermen, it became quickly apparent that their destroyed sea-based infrastructure meant that they could not fish. It also meant that the women would have nothing to sell. The fishermen’s need was to rebuild the sea-based “fish attracters” the quake demolished as quickly as possible.
EWI’s RESPONSE PROJECT, AND ITS IMPACT
EWI linked these two vital needs and, with the participation of the local fishermen and businesswomen, devised the following project:
Rebuild the local supply chain of the fishing sector in the Petite Rivière de Nippes so that local fishermen regain their capacity to fish, and women, small merchants, their capacity to sell the fish – and thus restore the fundamental sources of their livelihood.
A medium-size fish caught locally, Petite Rivière de Nippes
EWI’s project will directly help 400 women and 500 fishermen, totaling 900 individuals. Given that a majority of the women are married to the fishermen, an estimated 600 families, or 4,200 individuals will directly benefit from this collaborative endeavor. (A local average family is seven individuals.)
Traditionally, local women “hold the purse strings”, which ensures that children’s health and education, and the well-being of the family will be prioritized.
All materials and supplies for two “fish attracters” have been purchased and were delivered to the shipper November 10th. They are projected to arrive in Port-au-Prince November 15-19, and then will be trucked to Nippes by November 23d. They will be installed and ready for use between November 24th-30th.
The microcredit project: EWI is in negotiations with the local finance cooperative to manage EWI’s funds according to distinct conditions, for this specific group of women.
THE MANY DIFFERENT REALITIES OF LIVING IN HAITI TODAY
The capital’s lawlessness resembles a war zone. This is not an exaggeration. Gangs have taken over all aspects of life in the greater Port-au-Prince: creating chaos and a complete lack of security as manifested by killings, kidnappings, rapes, intergang wars, roadblocks, closing of the economy, preventing gasoline distribution, and flaunting automatic weapons against a police force that is outnumbered and outgunned. A citizen’s network providing up-to-the-minute information keeps residents glued to their phone screens to determine where to go and what to avoid. One lives in constant fear, incertitude, and physical and emotional exhaustion. Many long to and some plan to leave the country to escape the unreality of daily life. The majority doesn’t have that choice, but some among them do take the dangerous road of illegal emigration. In one part of the city’s poorest areas more than 8,000 people left because life has become unbearable.
This beautiful region is lush with trees, wild forests, plants and agricultural fields, including rice paddies. Strong community ties exude a vivid sense of mutual support. The sea determines the ebb and flow of life as most residents have a visceral attachment to it. The main source of revenue is fishing. Despite the tragedy of the earthquake, the losses, and the critical needs, there is a prevailing sense of a solid community determined to prevail. No gangs are present.
Rice paddies, Department of Nippes, Haiti, Sept. 2021, Photo M. Carrié-Simon, 2021
Driving from Port-au-Prince to Nippes, one experiences two completely different realities, an urban place overrun by violence, depravation, and unlivable chaos, and a rural place of lush natural bounty, and deeply rooted collective support, all the while facing the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster – as if these were two different countries existing under one flag. It also shows that good things do happen in Haiti, despite the many challenges, and that both deserve to be featured on the front pages when reporting on Haiti.
Our work would not have been possible without the generous support of:
the Anonymous Fund 1 (SM), The Anonymous Fund 2 (MN/LM), OECD-WHG, the Rotary Club of Coral Gables, the Woman’s Club of Coral Gables, our stalwart Board of Directors, and our most generous individual donors. Together, we are able to help rebuild the lives shattered by this earthquake. Thank you!