Like most of rural Haiti, the Sassier area lacks even the most basic of public services. There is no electricity, water, public transportation or similar infrastructure. Most of the area is served by only one road, which is almost impassable after heavy rains.
Most residents are subsistence farmers, whose existence is largely dependent on good rains at the right time. Although some agricultural assistance has been available, farming techniques are poor, seed quality is inadequate, and soil conditions are poor due to erosion, rocks and clay deposits.
Zanmi Sasye and its collaborators have provided funding for the construction and expansion of the Sassier community center, the purchase of a large solar-powered oven that cooks lunch for school children , and the purchase and installation of solar panels to generate electricity for the community center. The center provides meeting, education, and recreation facilities to Sassier’s citizens and currently serves as the site of College Pierre Toussaint’s Computer Lab.
Working with the Piram Agro-Forestry Cooperative, Zanmi Sasye has worked with farmers to improve farming techniques, reduce deforestation, provide watershed protection through terracing and new plantings, and promote fruit and vegetable gardening. In one project, more than 7,500 saplings and plants were planted to reforest hillsides and arrest soil erosion. In 2008, more than 70 Sassier community members terraced 40 plots of hillside farmland covering 3 hectares (7.5 acres), and planted 46 new fruit trees on land adjacent to the school as a model orchard. Post-completion evaluation indicated a marked reduction in erosion and an improvement in soil filtration capacity.
Since October 2010, one of our Haitian collaborators Oganizasyon Zanmi Sasye, has been implementing a $200,000 project that will substantially improve the road to Sassier, including building a bridge over the Guinaudee River (which you now have to drive through) and installing a concrete road service on nearly a mile of the worst portion of the road. Completion of the project is expected in the First Quarter of 2011. This and other road-building project in the Grand Anse province will provide significantly enhanced access to markets for agricultural products from the Sassier area.
Our future projects include:
- planning, financing and installation of a rehabilitated public water supply for the Sassier community;
- programs to implement better agronomic practices (seeds, planting and harvesting techniques, irrigation);
- expanded reforestation and watershed protection programs, including hillside terracing;
- expanded focus on increasing programs to increase employment in and cash incomes from agriculture and animal husbandry’ and
- creation of cooperative organizations to facilitate access to urban markets within Haiti and select export markets.