In rural Haiti wealth is measured by ownership of animals and specifically by the number of pigs and goats one manages in his or her herds. Struggling families raise their income through goat breeding, which provides a great source of protein.
To make sure these livestock activities continue to be sustainable operations for rural Haitians, the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) supports grassroots organizations that increase livestock production and other agriculture activities using ecologically-sound methods. These projects are a core priority for the IAF's Haiti portfolio: to improve agricultural production on small plots and develop the reliability of local food systems.
One example is Organisation de Développement Durable et Solidaire D’Haïti (ODDSHA), which operates in communities of Cavaillion in Haiti’s Sud department. ODDSHA is pleased to announce the graduation of 29 qualified veterinary workers who will work to make sure goats and other animals stay healthy.
The IAF’s local liaison for Haiti Pierre-Mérité attended the graduation and wrote this account.
Families and communities in rural Haiti depend on healthy animals to maintain good livelihoods.
These graduates followed a rigorous training to become veterinary care agents. In a ceremony, parish Rev. Ingrid Antoine started with a thanksgiving mass at the Sainte Thérèse de Boileau Church. A congregation of over 200 people gathered to celebrate. In attendance were representatives of the local authorities, grassroots organizations, and parents and friends of the graduates, all breeders from the district.
During his homily, the parish priest thanked the IAF on behalf of the people from Cavaillon for providing the community leaders with the right tools to become self-sufficient herders. These tools allow them to better respond to the diseases that strike their herds and provide alternatives to finding care elsewhere or relying on charity for their income. Now 29 qualified veterinary workers, six of whom are women, are able to directly contribute to the economic and social development of the community. The economy of rural Haiti is increasingly based on livestock, yet every year seasonal diseases kill hundreds of animals due to lack of proper medical care and immunization.
New veterinary agents stand proud during their graduation ceremony.
According to a coordinator of the Boards of the Municipal Sections of Boileau, Hurricane Matthew in October brought not only destruction but lingering problems such as animal diseases. Nine months after Matthew, the people in the countryside are starting to recover. This type of project is an important factor in the economic redevelopment of these communities because of its short, medium and long-term impacts on the economic well-being of the families. For the members of the beneficiary organizations, providing goats and training veterinarians is an example of a project that is well thought out with long-term vision.
ODDSHA’s coordinator said IAF support ensured proper training. ODDSHA members are now able to share their newfound knowledge among IAF partner organizations that work in the field of breeding.
Madame Stiven Genève Carmélia, a 49-year-old member of Asosyasyon Ann chanje Lakay Pa’n (ASHLAP), was among the first students of this class. Madame Carmélia, who is already providing community health services in the communal section of Durocher, received applause from the entire audience. A mother of three, Madame Carmélia was excited to be able to help breeders better address the diseases that affect the animals of this region. She thanked her husband Mr. Fares Elisca for encouraging her during the 12-month training. The training represents a great source of strength and an opportunity for the associations and the municipality of Cavaillon, which is regarded for the production and commercialization of goats in the Sud department.
Training was directed to community members who are sharing not only with their families but with the whole community.
Joseph Castor, an experienced technician who was educated at the Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine at the State University of Haiti, administered the training. Castor, in his 60s, is proud to have trained a multitude of veterinary agents around the country. He made a promise to all of his trainees to always remain at their disposal and to give advice for applying their knowledge in the field. Giving animals to beneficiary organizations is not enough; one must also provide the community with the appropriate skills to ensure their well-being. According to Castor, the Newcastle disease kills a few thousand animals each year due to the lack of proper immunization.
It should be noted that this project was made in partnership with 14 grassroots groups in the community of Cavaillon. The partnership has already enabled these organizations to work together for the well-being of the community. According to Blaise Télémaque, the current coordinator of ODDSHA, all of the groups received legal recognition from the Ministry of Social Affairs. Télémaque also mentioned that this project enabled the organizations to see the importance of transparency within their associations.
The graduation ceremony looked very much like a wedding ceremony in a rural Haitian community. Tout moun yo te abiye ak pi bèl rad yo tankou moun ki prale nan yon mariaj. (Everyone was dressed in their finest attire as if they were going to a wedding).
We will encourage other IAF partner organizations that work in goat breeding to get in touch with ODDSHA and benefit from their knowledge.
* Dieusibon Pierre-Mérité is a local liaison and administrative support (LLAS) in HAITI for the Inter-American Foundation.
Graduation photos by Keziah Jean of Glenglobe Productions in Haiti, a student of former IAF grantee partner Ciné Institute.