AVSI, registered as a local entity with the Haitian government since 2005, began its presence in the country in 1999 in the southern city of Les Cayes, in 2004 also expanding into the capital city Port-au-Prince, especially in two disadvantaged neighborhoods Cité Soleil and Martissant. After the catastrophic earthquake on January 12, 2010, activity swelled as our staff accompanied communities through to recovery.
Current priority projects are in the sectors of education/child protection, health with an emphasis on nutrition, food security and agriculture, water, reforestation and environment, and artisan workshops and business development. AVSI Haiti currently has working relationship with the Haitian Ministries of: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Development, (MARNDR), of Environment, of Health and Population, and other Government bodies including the Institute of Social Well Being (IBESR), the National Directorate for water management (DINEPA), with public schools under the Ministry of Education, and the Catholic Schools offices in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes Diocese and other authorities at local levels. Funding partners include UNICEF, WFP, United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTHA), the European Union, the Italian government, the city of Milan, USAID (OTI), the World Bank, and private foundations such as Rotary International, Dwight Howard Foundation, ACRI, and Mediafriends.
AVSI’s method of work emphasizes a commitment to working hand-in-hand with local peoples, especially promoting the organization and capacity building of local civil society organizations such as Moreve in Martissant, using local resources and engaging each individual’s desire and longing for a more human life. This method, along with AVSI’s expertise in post-conflict and recovery situations has earned AVSI the trust of local communities, increasing AVSI staff members’ effectiveness and access, even in very “inaccessible” or difficult, conflict-ridden areas. AVSI Haiti has offices in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes. Its staff is comprised of around 10 international and 200 national members.
Our history in Haiti began in 1999 with a 5 year program to support for the newly created School of Agronomy at the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti (UNDH) outside the city of Les Cayes in Department South. AVSI’s cooperation with UNDH included the coordination of visiting professors arriving from the State University of Milan, Italy, and the creation of a 30-acre experimental farm which benefit from the long-term technical and managerial assistance of AVSI agronomists. Contacts established within the population and community-based organizations of the Torbeck area gave rise to many projects in agriculture, rural development, and reforestation, water supply and management, infrastructure, and food security and nutrition, which are ongoing in Department South. AVSI also provides education support for over 300 children to attend school through DSP, with particular attention to their nutrition and food security with outreach to parents.
In the capital city, AVSI has been present since 2004, especially in two of the critical neighborhoods, Cite Soleil and Martissant. Activities began through AVSI’s Distance Support Program, providing assistance to children and their families and facilitating school access. Further programs were opened in response to needs of children who were vulnerable or were living on the streets, reintegrating working children known as “restavecks” into families, rehabilitating schools, and support to micro-businesses and offering programs for conflict resolution.
After the earthquake on January 12, 2010, which left 250,000 persons dead and 1.5 million without homes, AVSI jumped into action with an emergency response helping to carry the injured from the rubble to receive health care and to provide for basic needs. Quickly adapting existing projects and expanding to meet the colossal need, AVSI continued to work closely with the communities in Cité Soleil and Martissant, managing camps for the displaced families, assisting in child protection, medical and nutritional support to children, expecting and breast-feeding mothers totaling 30,000 people.
What began as a temporary emergency response lead to construction of 16 new facilities: 10 schools and education centers where educational support is provided for students and through teacher development trainings, 5 nutritional centers, and Atelier Soleil 21, a locally-managed artisan workshop which trains and provides work for youth, often former gang members or victims of violence.
AVSI has also accumulated disaster response experience in Cabaret and Petit Goave, the sites of emergency relief operations in collaboration with UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services, in response to the devastating hurricanes in August/September 2008.
Distant Support Program (DSP)
Location: Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes and Torbeck
Description: Support to around 1,400 students in over 60 schools or educational centers. Improving the conditions for psychosocial and academic progress through direct relationships with adults while strengthening the capacity of the children’s families, caretakers and local organizations to respond to their needs. Fulfillment of school requirements (uniforms, books, fees etc), organization of afterschool recreation and educational activities, training and curriculum support to school teachers and administrators, and support to programs to improve the economic status or food security of families through vocational or farming skills training.
Major Donors: Private donors
Implementing Partners: around local 60 schools and organizations, SAPHA, Parish of Fond Verrettes
Educational and Psychosocial Support for Students and Teachers
Location: Port-au-Prince : Cite Soleil, Martissant and Carrefour Feuilles
Description: Trainings for teachers on methods to improve quality; trainings for teachers and parents on psychosocial topics and assistance for around 2,300 children through group sensitizations and personalized support for the most vulnerable through a staff of 40 social workers and psychologists. Provision of school supplies to 43,860 students at 240 schools through Go to School program. Afterschool academic support, recreational and artistic activities in protected environments, including child-friendly tents in remote areas and 2 socio-education community centers.
Major Donors: UNICEF
Implementing Partners: Federation of 250 schools
Violence Reduction and Support to Women and Children
Location: Port-au-Prince: Cite Soleil and Martissant
Description: Community awareness building for violence reduction and child protection through events and open houses, educational programs including for 30 young women in female prison, rehabilitation of women or victims of violence through artisan training. Offer basic literacy and mathematics courses, craftsmanship training, and psychosocial support.
Major Donors: MINUSTAH
The Person at the Center of Development: Peace through Education
Location: Port-au-Prince : Cite Soleil and Martissant
Description: Project designed to address the community and social issues of human rights, peace, reconciliation and conflict resolution for youth (18-25) belonging to gangs or formerly incarcerated. Initiative includes information sessions addressing conflict resolution methods and peace mediator training as well as programs in professional and artisan training, psycho-social support, basic education and micro-credit opportunities to help reintegrate previous youth gang members into society. 30,000 beneficiaries reached as of the end of 2012.
Major Donors: European Union
Implementing Partners: Justice and Peace Commission; City of Port-au-Prince
Nutrition Community-based Approach and Institutional Strengthening in Port-au-Prince
Location: Port-au-Prince: Cite Soleil, Martissant, Delmas (Cite’ militaire)
Description: Construction and rehabilitation into permanent structures of 7 nutritional centers serving 4000 mothers and 7000 children (0-5 years). Basic health visits. Monitoring of growth monitoring and malnutrition level, basic maternal health visits (some locations) and provision of nutritional supplements. Nutrition and cooking classes for mothers and children, empowering them to recognize and address malnutrition. Community outreach by social workers to raise demand and meet the most vulnerable. Provide technical assistance to the Unit for the coordination of nutrition programs (UCPNANu) at the Ministry of Health.
Major Donors: UNICEF, World Food Program, ACRI and private donors
Resepag – Sustainable Agricultural Support
Location: Les Cayes and Torbeck
Description: Implementation of 4 outreach campaigns (1500 farmers per campaign) under the guidelines of the Ministry of Agriculture to improve productivity and income yielded from bean and corn crops. Identification and enrolment of the farmers in an official registry. Technical assistance through training in cooperation with the School of Agriculture of the UNDH. Authorized/incentivized acquisition by farmers of agriculture inputs through marketable vouchers. Monitoring of production, related business transactions, and value added related to the project.
Major Donors: World Bank
Implementing Partners: Ministry of Agriculture, UNDH
Location: Les Cayes - Torbeck - Pic Macaya Park in Haiti; Elias Pina Province and Pedro Santana Municipality in Dominican Republic
Description: Study of the correlations between poverty, health, mobility and environmental changes in fragile ecosystems. Capacity building to improve local management of natural resources, working with community-based organizations (CBO) and local ministries. Reforestation and construction of anti-erosion structures in Haiti. Focus on agricultural and livestock production in Dominican Republic. Workshops to raise awareness, share results and empower local stakeholders. Benefiting 32,000 residents in Haiti and 50,000 in DR.
Major Donors: European Union, City of Milan (Italy), Treedom srl
Implementing Partners: GVC, ORE, FLACSO, and IDDI
Aquaplus: Water, Energy for Life
Location: Torbeck region, South Department
Description: Improve infrastructure of water transportation and access to benefit 10,000 residents, strengthening capacity of local community water management committees (OREPA and CAEPA), and support to Faculty of Agriculture at UNDH. Rehabilitation of water sources in Ducis, repair and prolonging for a total of 12 km of aqueduct, construction of water access points and development of user fees schemes. Provision of agricultural inputs and strengthening of knowledge and teaching methods at UNDH, including promoting exchanges of students between Haiti and Italy and creation of a business plan to process agricultural products to market locally.
Major Donors: Rotary International Foundation, Unicredit Foundation and private funds
Implementing Partners: Rotary International, EXPO 2015, UNDH, State University of Milan, MLFM, DINEPA
Nutrition and Food Security in South Department
Location: Les Cayes-Torbeck
Description: Operation of 3 nutrition centers built through AVSI for growth monitoring, identification of severe cases of malnutrition, provision of nutritional supplements for recuperation. Cultivation and study of the use of the native moringa plant as a fortifying agent in AK-1000, providing a locally-produced alternative nutritional supplement. Nutrition classes for mothers and children attending nutrition centers, empowering them to recognize and address malnutrition. Offer classes in early childhood psychosocial stimulation. Over 1000 direct beneficiaries per year and approximately 3,500 indirect beneficiaries.
Major Donors: UNICEF
Fight Against Extreme Poverty: Rural Development and Water
Location: Les Cayes - Torbeck
Description: Two-pronged (agriculture/animal husbandry and water supply) rural development program targeting the extreme poverty affecting the region. Full renovation of water supply system, including water source, reservoir, over 20 km of pipes and multiple public taps, with direct participation of beneficiaries. Trainings on new irrigation techniques and animal husbandry. Nutrition and agricultural production outreach including: training on a family level including training and distribution of tools, seeds and fertilizers, and animal husbandry (chickens and rabbits); community-level training teaching techniques of traditional farming as well as new crop introduction; nutrition classes and home visits to educate and empower parents and children to recognize and address malnutrition. A total of 45,000 direct beneficiaries.
Major Donors: Italian Government
Implementing Partners: Torbeck Municipality, DINEPA