Boosting Food Security in Haiti
The world is facing an unprecedented year of hunger. High food prices have triggered a global crisis that is driving millions more people into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition. More than 820 million people were facing hunger in 2021. That was 46 million people more than in 2020 and 150 million more than in 2019. The numbers are projected to increase this year, according to a report by FAO-WFP.
The main driver of the food crisis is conflict, such as the war in Ukraine, which has decreased Ukrainian grain exports and supplies of fertilizer from Russia. Haiti is an example of a conflict-impacted country. Forty-five percent of the population, or 4.5 million Haitians, face acute hunger due to hyperinflation of imported foods and gang violence.
A second factor is economic downturns, with COVID-19 and associated food supply disruptions among the major reasons most poor countries face significant food shortages. Climate change and extreme weather events constitute the third factor. Significant floods and heatwaves in 2021 destroyed key crops in the Americas and Europe. More recently, the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan destroyed over $3 billion worth of crops.
With the increased food insecurity also comes worsening gender disparity in food access. Of the estimated 828 million people globally who were affected by hunger in 2021, approximately two-thirds are women.
How FINCA is Boosting Food Security in Haiti
In response, FINCA has created products to support small-scale farmers to increase food security for their families and communities, with a particular focus on women. FINCA knows that investing in women results in better outcomes. Land managed by women on average is 20 percent more productive and therefore contributes toward food security. This is supported by a 2021 study from Burundi that found that investing in gender equality in agriculture brought a $5 return for every $1 invested. This compares against a $2 return for every $1 invested in agriculture programs that ignored gender equality.
A successful example can be seen in Haiti. Based on input from an agricultural expert from Oxford University, FINCA launched an agriculture loan product in 2021. This loan continues to be very successful, especially among women. Of the 1,822 beneficiaries, 82 percent are women, surpassing the target of 1,400 clients (60 percent women).
To support these special loans, FINCA Haiti recruited 32 hybrid loan officers specifically trained in the agriculture loan product. FINCA also provided technical assistance to clients on business development, natural resource management, and climate change adaptation. The agriculture loan product is available at every FINCA branch in Haiti.
In recent months this support has been critical as Haiti is facing a humanitarian catastrophe with one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world. While the international community is mobilizing to address the security concerns in the country, FINCA is actively helping families and communities increase local crop production.