In the arid land of Haiti, rainy season is a lifeline for those who live on the food their gardens produce.
But what if the rains don’t come?
In April, people in northwest Haiti looked eagerly for the rain that would bring them a harvest to last the summer. But only 0.1 inch fell, not even enough for the seeds to sprout. It rained a little more in May, and a few hopeful Haitians planted in case the rains came. Now August is approaching, and the land is still bone-dry.
“This is the driest year since 2005,” says Dave Martin, CAM administrator in La Source, Haiti. “We’ve received only 7.7 inches of rain this year.” This area of Haiti typically receives over 18 inches of rain by this time of year.
Haitians in La Source and the surrounding area eat primarily what they can raise from their gardens. If there is no harvest, there is no food. “The gardens should be full of corn, but there’s not a thing in them,” says Dave. What growth remained has been razed by scavenging animals.
Haitians typically allow their animals to run loose during the dry winters, hoping they will find enough vegetation to survive. When the rain comes, bringing with it hope for harvest, they tie up their animals to protect the crops. This summer, however, many don’t have enough to feed their animals. They let them run in search of scraps to keep them alive. Now, some of the animals are dying.
The people of Veille Hatte, a community about six miles from CAM’s La Source base, sent a letter pleading for help. “Here the rain has not fallen, and the sun and wind have destroyed all our gardens,” they wrote. “We know CAM is an organization that is working diligently to help people in the most vulnerable areas.”
The fall rainy season should begin in August, but already, thousands of Haitians are struggling to find enough food. Even if the rains come, harvest is still several months away. If the drought continues, they will have no reliable food source during the winter, and their only hope of harvest would be next July.
In response to these increasingly desperate needs, CAM is preparing to do a food relief project in northwest Haiti. We will distribute corn and beans for 1,700 drought victim homes in the La Source area. We are also preparing to distribute food for 3,500 homes in more distant regions.To allow more people to receive help and to avoid creating a dependent mentality, recipients will be required to pay a minimal fee for the food. CAM staff members will travel throughout the area to ensure that the neediest households receive help.
“Blessed is he that considereth the poor…” Psalm 41:1