The Dutch Red Cross, The Haitian Red Cross, LEOS, United Designers
La Vallèe de Jacmel, Haiti
Total area (ha)
Direct 100, indirect 14,000
Haiti started 2020 in deep crisis with tension and political unrest due to the collapse of the PetroCaribe programme, which put a strain on the Haitian population. In August, hurricane Laura hit, causing landslides and flooding and damaging the infrastructure. Sadly, Laura took the lives of 32 people, including 16 in the southeast where Commonland and its partners work. Hurricane Laura also caused significant agricultural losses in several communities, which worsened the already precarious food production. With anomalies typical of severe to extreme events, 2020 was one of the driest years. On top of all of this, COVID-19 arrived.
Nevertheless, these setbacks have strengthened our belief in restoring and supporting these lands and their communities to adapt to future climate challenges and mitigate natural disasters’ risks.
The area of La Vallée de Jacmel faces severe soil erosion worsened by its mountainous nature. Throughout the watershed, tree cutting created space for agriculture, even on unsuitable hillsides, which lead to a higher risk of landslides in periods of heavy rain. Improving water retention capacity is crucial as this watershed provides water to several big cities downstream and the Bassin Bleu, a natural, high cultural and ecological value area.
Via a consortium of partners brought together by the Netherlands and Haitian Red Cross, BioService, United Designers and Grounded, Commonland supports the co-creation of landscape strategies and partnerships needed to regenerate the islands’ natural infrastructure. This started in the southeastern, degraded, and mountainous region of La Vallée de Jacmel. Through the 4 Returns 4 Resilience (4R4R) approach, combining the preventive approach of the Red Cross with the 4 Returns methodology, the consortium of partners works on:
- Healthy landscapes: through creating a shared vision, sustainable land restoration and management practices, supported by local policies;
- Resilient communities: sustainable farming practices, access to clean water services, and disaster preparedness;
- Economically empowered people: new sources of income, support for entrepreneurship and creation of value chains.
“Commonland’s added value is its long-term approach. Communicative, logical, easy to explain and of good quality. The approach also comes with a good network of local partners. Commonland could focus more on training and sharing tangible stories of their approach - since there are so many to tell.”
- Liselotte de Koning, Director Princess Margriet Fund at The Dutch Red Cross.
What happened in 2020?
In 2020, the first visioning process for La Vallée de Jacmel kicked off. Unfortunately, the weeklong co-initiation workshop on the ground with partners was moved to the Dominican Republic due to political unrest in Haiti.
One hundred ‘ambassador’ farmers were selected in strategic areas for piloting demonstration farms. Together with partners, we identified and introduced new techniques to work on healthy landscapes. In 2021, the design of the demo farms and their surrounding areas will be completed. Also, while the first interventions took off in La Vallée de Jacmel, the consortium started to scout for opportunities to replicate and upscale the 4R4R approach in 3 more landscapes on the island.
To support local communities’ farmers and economic leadership, Commonland and Grounded supported their local partner BioService in establishing and developing the business model for BioService itself and its Center of Excellence (CE). This Center, which will be operated as part of BioService’s model, aims to provide local farmers and entrepreneurs with agri-business services and agricultural R&D services. In 2020, the CE constructed two nurseries with a capacity for 41,000 seedlings, an apiary with 24 beehives, and is planning to acquire bee colonies and produce honey in 2021. Together with community-based organisations, BioService is currently identifying and exploring opportunities to produce several value chains, among which essential oils.
4 Returns 4 Resilience Philippines
Early 2020, the 4 Returns 4 Resilience approach would be replicated in the Philippines – one of the world’s most natural hazard-prone countries. This project, a collaboration between Green Releaf Philippines, The Netherlands Red Cross and Commonland, was the first among the landscapes to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic. The field trip was cancelled as early as February 2020. We conducted a preliminary analysis online, and Commonland partnered with Green Releaf to work on another project, developing a regenerative food ecosystems lab for the Philippines.