Livelihood Profiles in Haiti

The livelihood profiles that follow document how rural populations throughout Haiti live. A livelihood is the sum of ways in which households obtain the bare necessities, how they make ends meet from year to year, and how they survive (or fail to survive) through difficult times.

There is increasing interest in using livelihoods analysis as the “lens” through which to view a number of problems. These problems range from emergency response to disaster mitigation to longer-term development. This interest rests upon two basic observations:

  1. Information about a given area or community can only be properly interpreted if it is put into the context of how people live.
  2. Interventions can only be designed in ways appropriate to local circumstances if the planner knows about local livelihoods and whether or not a proposed intervention will build upon or undermine existing strategies.

Two main products are offered here:

The map shows the division of the country into homogenous zones defined according to a livelihoods framework.
The profile describes the major characteristics of each zone, including a brief differentiation of different wealth groups. There is some emphasis on hazards and the relative capacity of different types of households in different places to withstand them.

In compiling these profiles, a balance has been struck between accessibility and level of detail. The aim has been to present sufficient information to allow a rounded and balanced view of livelihoods nationally. The profiles provide a rapid introduction to livelihoods in the country; they do not offer localized detail.

The preparation of these profiles was a joint activity between the USAID FEWS NET project, Coordination Nationale de Sécurité Alimentaire du Gouvernement d’Haiti, USAID, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and World Vision. The main focus of FEWS NET’s work is early warning. The livelihood profiles have been structured primarily with this type of activity in mind. However, it is hoped that they will also prove useful to the wider development community.

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