With Caritas support, farmers receive tools, seeds and help to buy cattle. They also learn techniques regarding conservation and the rehabilitation of land. Credits: Elodie Perriot/Secours Catholique

With Caritas support, farmers receive tools, seeds and help to buy cattle. They also learn techniques regarding conservation and the rehabilitation of land.
Credits: Elodie Perriot/Secours Catholique

With Port-au-Prince in ruins following the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people fled to the countryside.

Les Cayes, in the south or Haiti, is a rural zone. It is very vulnerable to heavy rains, floods and soil erosion due to deforestation.

Enelio Teme is trying to help his relatives who arrived from Port-au-Prince following the earthquake but floods following the earthquake have made his life much more difficult.

“My crops, my seeds, my cattle…everything has disappeared,” he says. “People don’t usually die from hunger here, but this year, who knows? What with my family arriving on top of the floods, life is very difficult.”

Mr Enelio’s story isn’t unusual in Les Cayes. Mass deforestation around Les Cayes has led to soil erosion which leads to floods when torrential rains arrive. The floods in February 2010 destroyed most of the crops and led to the loss of many heads of cattle.

Secours Catholique works with partners in Les Cayes to build up communities and help them work together. With their support, farmers receive tools, seeds and help to buy cattle. They also learn techniques regarding conservation and the rehabilitation of land.

“Without this aid, I’m not sure I’d have been able to manage,” said Carline Nézaire, who had recently arrived from Port-au-Prince with her four children.

The area is heavily dependent on the help of aid agencies. But despite the displaced population and the risk of flooding, Les Cayes’ future could be bright.

“With the right policies, the southern region of Haiti has real agricultural and tourism potential,” said Fr Wilnès Tilus, former director of Caritas Haiti.