Vre Lavi Ayiti - True Life Haiti

Passe Catabois Demographics

Location and Geographic Features

Latitude of Passe Catabois:  19,8333 (1949'59.880"N)

Longitude of Passe Catabois: -72,9333 (7255'59.880"W)

Altitude of Passe Catabois: 21 m

Passe Catabois (Southwest of Port-de-Paix, about one hour to the west of Bassin Bleu across the Trois Rivires river).

 

Principal Economic Activities

This area is notable for the diversity and breadth of its economic activities. This community now is primarily agriculture, livestock raising and sale, petty commerce in goods bought in other agro ecological zones, trading, and the sale of labor outside the local community. A recent drought has been very severe.

 

Population and Characteristics

Population density is near the average found for all of the agro ecological zones. Immigration to the Passe Catabois area has resulted in a net population increase in recent years. 50-60% of the husbands and wives are formally married, the rest living in a common law relationship. There are on average 6 to12 persons per household and two to three adults per household. Religious affiliation seemed more dependent on the faith practiced at the nearest church than any other factor. Almost all adults were illiterate, but nearly all of their school-age children attended school. Most adults in Passe Catabois are unemployed but some work with subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of $30 per month. The primary ethnic group and language is Creole. Typical houses are dirt floors, mud lattice walls and grass or tin roofs.

 

Natural Resources and Trends

This area is lacking a wide variety of natural resources, except for soils that could be made productive if watered. Most of the forest resources have been cut down and the stumps have also been removed for fuel wood and charcoal production. Water resources for agricultural uses either do not exist because of disrepair of the irrigation systems or have not been developed. The community has a supply of potable water; however, there could be significant waiting times in line to get water from the local fountain or pipe.

 

Infrastructure:

There is a health center but qualified health staff was lacking and that medicines were unavailable or prohibitively priced. The community has primary schools which are in need of qualified teachers. More than 80% were private, almost all with a religious affiliation. Passe Catabois has a small market once a week, but most residents attended other, larger markets some distance away. There is a bakery and a general hardware store, which is extremely limited with supplies. This community is in need of employment opportunities. There is a geotechnical missionary base located in Passe Catabois with large equipment and trucks able to do road repair, irrigation construction and water supply maintenance. There was at least one road in decent condition except following rains.

 

Government Services

Aside from a few schools, government services do not exist.

 

Access To Credit

Only informal credit systems are found.

 

Primary Production System:

As in most of the agro ecological zones, agriculture is this area's primary form of production. The chief constraint to no production is historically low rainfall, followed by increasingly drought-like conditions over the past 10 years. Charcoal production is almost nonexistent in the zone itself due to lack of forest resources. Livestock raising and sale are ordinarily important factors in the livelihoods of the zone's residents. However, recent epidemics affecting poultry, swine, and ruminants, along with livestock sales to support food purchases, have made this livelihood component's contribution fall far below its potential.

 

The Resource Base:

The average number of parcels farmed by a household did not vary significantly averaging two to four per farm family. Almost all of these parcels were owned, rented, or farmed under sharecropping arrangements. More than 75% of the land there is owned, property rights having been transferred by purchase or inheritance. The average parcel size is less than 3 acres..

 

Agriculture Base:

Maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and varieties of beans, sorghumand and peanuts. All crops grown are adapted to average climate/soil conditions, and the exact crop mix in any one place seems to be determined by what can be most readily sold in local markets. The soils in Passe Catabois are more suited to peanuts than elsewhere.

 

Means and Factors of Production: All gardens are worked using hand tools, most commonly and machetes, and, occasionally, picks and shovels. Tools were frequently shared among neighbors. Men were generally involved in all phases of cropping, but not sale of harvests at the market. Land was prepared either by an individual farmer or by means of reciprocal labor exchanges (swaps or konbit) with other farmers. Women, always responsible for marketing, were usually involved as well in planting, weeding, and harvesting. Children also participated in harvesting, and women and children are the primary wood and water collectors for the zone's households.

 

Constraints: Many factors constrain the livelihood strategies of this zone, including chronic drought and lack of cash to buy fertilizers, seed, insecticides, and medication to immunize animals or treat their diseases. The absence of technical advice was also cited by a many of those interviewed.

 

Summary of Constraints To Household Food and Nutritional Security

Crop failures caused by chronic drought, excessive livestock losses from epidemics, and a rapid increase in market prices for food have resulted in serious household food shortages. Measures of nutritional security for children reveal unacceptably low results.

 

Secondary Production Systems

Trading goods and produce from other zones and selling labor are common.

 

Coping Strategies

The inland dry zone's population employs several coping strategies to survive adversity. These generally involve innovations in the use of scant food and financial resources.

 

 

 

Meals and Food Substitution

The number of meals has generally been reduced below the preferred number. The majority of families eat one meal each day, if at all. Protein consumption has diminished, resulting in a diet high in starches and carbohydrates. Childhood malnutrition is prevalent in this area, approximately 1 out of 6 children.

 

Wild Foods

This communities reported significant consumption of wild plants and fruit in their diets. Plant leaves are often cooked together with ground maize or sorghum in a dish called "leginm" However, plants are only available during or immediately after rainy periods.

 

Sale of Assets

Many people currently sell their livestock in order to meet their basic food needs.

 

Borrowing

Borrowing among parents and children in extended families was common throughout the zone. A small amount of borrowing from friends and neighbors was also reported. Such loans usually entail pledging part of an expected harvest or some other form of collateral, and often carry high interest charges (25%).

 

Credit

Households used informal credit for market purchases. Usually, no interest was charged if reimbursement occurred within one week. Pawning farm tools and family jewelry is also common.

 

Alternative Employment

Aside from the wage labor cited above, the only local alternative work available to the farmers was acting as a guardian for someone else’s animals. High livestock losses in recent years make this activity's significance negligible.

 

Migration

Seasonal migration to sell labor in more productive agricultural areas was found. Permanent out-migration over the past few years to cities in Haiti or to other countries was reported but involved small numbers of people. Inabilities to find work or money necessary to pay for travel were cited as the primary inhibitors to migration.

 

Remittance

Residents reported that remittances by family members living outside the community do not exist.

 

Changes in Livelihood Strategies

The traditional livelihood strategy-working one's own land to produce much of what is needed for auto consumption and the sale of crop or livestock "surpluses" to meet remaining household needs-no longer operates successfully. What were originally intended to be short-term coping strategies have now become the main sources of livelihood.

 

 

 

 

 

Food Consumption Patterns

Over the past decade, significant changes in per capita food intake, as well as in the sources and availability of food, were reported. All informants stated that they had reduced the amount they eat and that their diets had shifted more heavily to starches and carbohydrates, with a proportional reduction in dry protein intake.

 

Diet

The major dietary staples were corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, oil, and flour. Beans, rice, bread, and fruits were also reported to be consumed by residents having greater assets than average for the zone.

 

Sources of Food

Marketplace purchases constituted the major source of food, followed by food aid. Almost all harvests from gardens were auto consumed, but these harvests, often lasting for a month or less, fell far short of meeting total household food needs.

 

Problems of Food Availability

Chronic drought and rapidly increasing food prices over the past few years were cited almost universally as the major problems of food acquisition. Market prices for staples were reported to have risen more than 100% since January.

 

Traditional Food Sharing Networks

The historical pattern of food sharing during funerals, weddings, and religious holidays has been curtailed greatly. No sharing between relatives, except when the relatives lived in the same lakou (house-yard complex). Female household heads did receive some gifts of food from both relatives and neighbors.

 

Child Care

Child care practices in this zone are similar to those found in the other zones. Children usually take care of their younger siblings when the mother is not at home.

 

Feeding Patterns

Breast feeding on demand is widespread. Once weaned, children eat the same foods as the adults and at the same time.

 

Weaning Foods

No special weaning foods were reported. However, children are given small amounts of solid foods from whatever is cooked for the rest of the family, starting as early as two months.

 

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