On 14 August 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the southern regions of Haiti, in particular Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud departments, affecting some 800 000 people (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], 31 August 2021). Preliminary reports from the Departmental Directorates of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO’s) partners indicate widespread damages to the agriculture sector. In addition to residential houses and public buildings, such as hospitals, churches and schools, the earthquake destroyed markets and agricultural infrastructure, including stores and processing facilities, dairies, irrigation canals and rural roads.
Two days later, Tropical Storm Grace’s torrential rains caused floods and landslides in the same departments affected by the earthquake, as well as in Sud-Est. The storm damaged summer season crops and domestic livestock rearing, obstructed roads, destroyed bridges on critical supply lines and disrupted private-sector food and agricultural input supply.
The two natural disasters have exacerbated the existing complex humanitarian crisis the country has been facing due to back-to-back emergencies, growing political and socio-economic unrest, the negative impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and increased violence by armed gangs triggering significant population displacements.
In addition, cases of African swine fever have been recently reported in the Dominican Republic. The possible spread of the disease, accelerated by the movement of population and goods due to the earthquake and floods, could have catastrophic effects on households’ livelihoods and Haiti’s already weak economy. Indeed, vulnerable populations in rural, peri-urban and urban areas rely on pork farming, commercialization and consumption for their livelihoods and food security. Finally, the COVID-19 Delta variant, water-prone disease outbreaks and possible tropical cyclones until the end of the hurricane season in October 2021, pose additional threats to the country.