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On January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, with the epicenter approximately 15 km west of Port-au-Prince. As of March, 222,653 people were estimated to have died in the surrounding areas, with an additional 310,000 wounded. The Sud-Est (Southeast) department was one of the worst hit areas, with more than 400 dead and 40% of all residents affected in some way.
This assessment analyzes the market system for agricultural labor in the Sud-Est department of Haiti in March-April 2010. Casual or low-skilled labor is a main source of revenue throughout the Sud-Est department, and poorer families are more likely to rely on labor as a key livelihood strategy. Therefore, interventions to stimulate or avoid harming the labor markets will have a beneficial impact on most households in the target population. The market for agricultural labor was selected due to the importance of agriculture to the Sud-Est economy, accounting for 26-55 percent of income in the area.
Most people in Sud-Est have a number of livelihood strategies. This means almost nobody engages purely in agricultural labor as their only source of income. In addition, much agricultural labor in Sud-Est is done by means other than paid labor. Paid wage labor is more common on larger farms and among farmers growing crops that require rapid planting and harvest, such as certain vegetables and beans.
Following the earthquake, farmers have less money to pay wage labor and for buying seeds and other inputs. Farmers are also relying as much as they can on unpaid help from relatives and friends. Several NGOs have already begun or are planning cash-for-work programs focused on environmental restoration, though local residents may face competition for these positions from the 50,000-odd IDPs who have come to the region since the earthquake.
Recommended interventions include immediate cash-for-work projects to replace lost income for rural households; immediate interventions to ensure farmers have sufficient seeds and inputs to plant successfully; and longer-term interventions to stimulate rural employment opportunities and strengthen the agricultural sector.