On Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet Emyl Mil, a rice farmer in Haiti, a focus country for President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative. When I spoke with Mr. Mil, he was excited about the use of a new, innovative approach called System of Rice Intensification. This new technique has significantly increased rice yields using fewer seeds and less water and fertilizer. Mr. Mil has even shared the technique with fellow farmers, who are seeing the same results. This is exactly the kind of work we want to support: providing Haitians with the tools to help themselves and each other in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
This type of results-oriented approach to food security addresses a particularly pressing and urgent need in Haiti. Before the earthquake, a lack of infrastructure and organization led to post-harvest losses of 35 percent or more. We’re helping to change this narrative by supporting country-led plans to transform agriculture, broadening our engagement with local partners, and building capacity that will end the cycle of hunger and food aid.
Under the dedicated leadership of USAID/Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei, our team in Haiti is implementing new ideas and technologies, selectively focusing its work where we can have the greatest impact. We’re scaling up programs and innovations across key areas like infrastructure, health, governance and economic security.
Last year, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we created the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI). The HMMI has awarded millions of dollars in prizes to mobile money service providers for investing in mobile banking. The initiative encourages local wealth creation, enabling Haitians to save money and make transactions on cell phones. We’re on the verge of 1 million mobile money transactions – a movement that is building momentum every day.
Helping rebuild Haiti remains a chief priority. We know it’s a tough road ahead but together with the Government of Haiti, the international community and local NGOs, we’ve accomplished real gains on which we can build. Since the earthquake, we’ve all worked together to move more than 4 million cubic meters of rubble (USAID removed 2 million of those cubic meters), clearing the way for redevelopment and enabling families to come home. We’ve also provided integrated shelter solutions to help Haitians return to safe, sustainable housing. And we’ve helped to immunize more than 1 million Haitians against diseases like polio and diphtheria.
Although the way forward remains challenging, we are committed to finding the most creative, sustainable ways to help the people of Haiti achieve long-term, sustainable development.
See more photos from my visit.