On October 8, the United States Agency for International Development in Haiti, in the presence of His Excellency President René Preval, launched the WINNER project (WATERSHED INITIATIVE FOR NATIONAL NATURAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES).
The WINNER project will invest $126 million over five years to increase farmer productivity and reduce Haiti’s environmental, infrastructural, and economic vulnerability. “We must – and we can – pursue economic growth and protect the environment at the same time,” said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten.
Promoting sustainable watershed management practices in Haiti remains a national priority. WINNER project experts stress that Haitian farmers, NGOs, agribusinesses and construction firms, and government actors must work closely together to manage and protect Haiti’s key watersheds. USAID’s WINNER project provides a national forum for bringing together these actors — particularly farmers — through a series of public-private partnerships.
WINNER will work with communities to create micro watershed management plans, strengthen farmer associations, provide access to extension services and vital supplies (seeds, fertilizers, credit, tools), and restore protective tree cover. “This will take years of hard work,” said Ambassador Merten, “but this new strategy has the potential to turn back centuries of deforestation.”
Ambassador Merten also congratulated the Government of Haiti for taking a very important step, by creating the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Land Management under the leadership of the Prime Minister, which will set national policy for watershed management. “I am immensely pleased that the Government of Haiti is leading this effort, which is so vitally important to Haiti,” said Ambassador Merten.
The Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources (WINNER) is being implemented by Chemonics International. A key feature of WINNER is the $100 million Watershed Investment Fund (WIF). The WIF will support key watershed activities, help build capacity and collaborate with other projects and donors.
USAID reports that the first watershed management projects, started last year in Limbe and Montrouis, are already showing good results. USAID hopes to attract more donors to adopt this approach in the future. (End of text)