Tuesday 27 June, Port Salut – Norwegian State Secretary, Laila Bokhari, is currently visiting Haiti for the first time. The aim of her visit is to better understand the challenges being faced by local communities in Haiti’s Grand Sud region following the devastating consequences of hurricane Matthew. The visit lets the State Secretary see for herself the results of Norwegian-funded projects in the region.
“Norway has been a key supporter of UN Environment and its partners in Haiti for many years. Haiti is one of the priority countries for Norwegian development assistance, especially focussing on the environment, energy and education sectors” reaffirmed Laila Bokhari, State Secretary of Norway.
On 27June the high-level Delegation travelled to one of Haiti’s first marine protected areas, Pointe Abacou in Saint Jean du Sud. This was one of nine marine protected areas declared by the Government of Haiti in 2013 with the support of Norway and UN Environment.
The delegation visited the protected area of Point Abacou
The Ministry of Agriculture, Carmel André Béliard, stated that: “The establishment of protected areas are of strategic importance for the government. We see them as local instruments for sustainable fisheries management, disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change.”
The development of a protected area management plan for Pointe Abacou is currently underway through Norway-UN Environment support. Through the involvement of local communities, the plan promotes green and blue economy approaches in the area (fishing, apiculture), as well as the rehabilitation of critical ecosystems, such as mangroves. While the plan is being developed, UN Environment is already creating job opportunities in coastal reforestation, apiculture around mangroves, and boat rehabilitation for fishermen.
Norwegian State Secretary, Laila Bokhari, visited a mangrove seedling nursery with representatives of Haiti’s Ministry of Environment
Considering the impacts of Matthew, UN Environment and the International Labor Office (ILO) have strengthened their collaboration to promote green recovery along the Southern coast of Haiti. Environmental rehabilitation through immediate green jobs creation has been the core of the partnership. In Pointe Abacou for instance, ILO in synergies with UN Environment has contributed to the establishment of beekeeping as an alternative livelihood reducing pressures on forestry resources. This led to the training of over 30 people in hive construction and management techniques, and, ultimately, the establishment of a hive manufacturing workshop.
“I can see the considerable efforts of our Haitian and international partners to make lasting change for the communities living in the region” said Laila Bokhari, State Secretary. “Norway is here to accompany the Government of Haiti in the resilient development of the Grand Sud region, especially in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.”
The Haitian Minister of Agriculture accompanied Norway’s State Secretary on her visit, pictured above extracting honey and at a presentation of honey-based products
According to the Haiti South Department Délégué, Max Serge Daniel, Norway’s support to regional development and coordination through the Table Verte du Grand Sud for instance is crucial. The aftermath of Matthew showed how important it is to move from ad-hoc isolated projects to integrated coherent programs for the Grand Sud region. « A regional vision with meaningful integration and coordination will help us to build the resilience we are hoping for », The Délégué said.
For the UN Resident Coordinator, El Mostafa Benlamlih “without community ownership and responsibility there will be no sustainability of these joint efforts.”
Head of UN Environment in Haiti, Matti Lehtonen, underlined the importance of partnerships in improving the lives of Haitians: “It is by working together that we can achieve the most. Through the support of champion countries like Norway to the strengthening of the Haitian institutions, the management of public goods, such as fragile ecosystems, can be reinforced. This also requires working with local and national NGOs and other UN entities, like the International Labour Organization. Norway’s commitment to protecting and rehabilitating ecosystems in Haiti’s South will leave a vital legacy for generations to come.”
The delegation also travelled to Torbeck where the International Labour Organization is helping young people find work outside of the traditional realms of domestic labour. Here, around 400 adolescents are benefitting from training in agroforestry, food processing, agriculture and animal husbandry, thanks to project partners AVSI and the Haitian University of Notre Dame. ILO representative in Haiti, Ramiro Pizarro said that “ILO's approach is to promote rural socio-economic development by improving education and bridging skills gaps among vulnerable youth in Haiti”.
"Haiti has to recover its resilience. The rural area, that used to feed the city is now food insecure and offers limited options to its youth. It has to protect its resources and rebuild its productive capacity for the benefit of its people and the country", the UN Resident Coordinator said.
This visit has helped to cement the already strong partnership between Norway, UN Environment and the International Labour Organisation to support Haiti. The partners renewed their commitment to working closely with regional authorities in the South of Haiti to support sustainable, viable and socially just economic development in the region.