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Hurricane Irma Pounds Haiti, Especially Farmers in the North

While avoiding the bulls-eye of the storm, Hurricane Irma’s impact in Haiti began yesterday, as pouring rain, high seas and devastating winds pummeled the northern regions of the country.

Ricot Jean-Pierre told us this morning, “Despite the fact that Hurricane Irma didn’t fall as expected in Haiti [as a whole], huge damage is being reported in the North and Northeast, where our partners have already called for help, especially in Plaisance, Limonade, Ouanaminthe, Ferrier and elsewhere.”

Ricot is the program director of our partner the Platform to Advocate for Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA), a coalition of nine Haitian organizations working together to promote the emergence of a new Haiti, through its diverse thematic areas, including external debt, food sovereignty, participatory democracy, climate justice and solidarity economy. PAPDA works closely with several  women’s cooperatives and peasant organizations in the North that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma.

The devastation is particularly felt among the country’s small farmers and rural people, according to Ricot. “Many peasants are victims with huge losses at in agriculture and livestock. It is a disaster for the peasant economy. There is still reliance on solidarity to help mount a response.”

Members of PAPDA had fanned out throughout the impacted region prior to the storm offering help in preparedness and warning residents to seek shelter.

The storm has flooded highways and bridges, caused mudslides and cut off residents from major roads. We received reports yesterday from Rose Edith Raymonvil Germain, who lives near in the Northwest, another area heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma. At that time she told us, “National Highway #3 is impassable because of the [rising] River. This is the main road that leads to Hinche [in the Central Plateau] and to Cap-Haitien.”

She added this morning that, «The red alert continues across the national territory of Haiti, and the rain continues to come down… later in the day, we will go out and visit more communities and assess the situation.»

Rose Edith is the national coordinator of the National Congress of Papaye Peasant Movement (MPNKP). With over 100,000 members spread across 10 departments (regions), MPNKP is one of the largest Haitian peasant movements and a Grassroots International partner.

In addition to the immediate damage from storm surge, flooding and wind, Haitians also fear the spread of cholera and long-term health impacts.

Given the already thinly stretched resources in the region and a notoriously weak governmental infrastructure, organizations like the MPNKP, PAPDA and other community-led groups are critical to relief and recovery efforts.

To support Haitian-led response, you can make a gift to Grassroots International today. Donations will assist emergency response efforts led by communities on the ground in Haiti who know the local needs. Because we have strong, long-lasting partnerships with movements in Haiti, Grassroots International is able to get funds directly into the hands of Haitians who need them most during this critical time.

Thank you for your solidarity and assistance in helping mount recovery efforts. –  Ricot Jean-Pierre, PAPDA

Grassroots International is also reaching out to our friends and allies in Florida, including Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Farmerworker Association of Florida and others. As Holly Baker of the Farmerworker Association of Florida notes, “The storm will affect us all no matter which path [it takes.]”

To all our partners and friends in the path of Hurricane Irma we send our best wishes, love, solidarity and support, and will stand with you in your recovery. And we extend the gratitude from Ricot to those who can contribute to the recovery: “All of this would not be possible without the solidarity of conscious people such as you.”

Photos courtesy of PAPDA and MPNKP