WASHINGTON – The World Bank says it has activated US$9.5 million to provide immediate funding for Haiti’s agriculture sector to support food security in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The World Bank is working closely with the Haitian authorities at the central and local levels, along with development partners, to help the country address the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti.
“The local agriculture sector supplies up to 45 percent of Haitian food needs. Safeguarding agriculture will be essential to mitigating the impacts of this crisis, particularly for the rural poor,” she added.
The Washington-based financial institution said nearly 35 percent of Haiti’s population already needed urgent food support before the crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic can worsen this situation, due to external threats such as fluctuation of the global markets, decreased remittances from overseas, and the closure of the border with the Dominican Republic, which will further limit access to basic food supplies,” the bank said.
“Locally, social distancing measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus, loss of income, and disruption of supply chains will exacerbate this issue,” it added.
The World Bank said the financing will be used to safeguard production for the next two cropping seasons, maintain purchasing power of the rural and urban poor, and preserve the food markets and value chains.
It said this funding will allow 21,500 farmers in the Southern and Nippes regions to finance inputs and materials, such as seeds and fertilizers, and will support plowing and land preparation.
The World Bank said the Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) also includes communications campaigns to promote social distancing and sanitation measures during implementation.
It said these funds were mobilized under the Haiti Resilient Productive Landscape Project using the CERC. “CERCs allow funds to be reallocated from the project to be used for emergency response activities,” the World Bank said, stating that this initiative complements the US$20 million support to the COVID-19 health response under the Haiti COVID-19 Response Project, approved on April 2, 2020.
The World Bank said it is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, such as those in the Caribbean.
It said it is taking “broad, fast action” to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response.
“We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs,” the bank said.
“Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to US$160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including US$50 billion of new IDA (International Development Association) resources in grants or highly concessional terms,” it added.