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 Sacred Heart Parish 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.
Working with the Piram Agro-Forestry Cooperative, Zanmi Sasye has assisted 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.
In 2010-11, our Haitian collaborators Oganizasyon Zanmi Sasye, implemented a $200,000 project that substantially improved the road to Sassier, including installation of a concrete road service on one kilometer of the worst portion of the road. 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.
With Zamni Sasye’s assistance, our Haitian collaborator Oganizasyon Zanmi Grandans has developed and built four schools comprising more than 50 classrooms, using funds provided by the German Government and the Association for Schools in Hispaniola. These reinforced concrete buildings meet all current seismic standards and will provide both community meeting spaces in their communities, as well as emergency shelters in case of hurricanes or other natural disasters. A fifth school of 12 classrooms is in development and should be under construction by Summer 2015.
After four years of development, planning and engineering, the Greater Sassier Water Project is now in the funding phase with the World Bank. This project will provide chlorinated, pipe water supplies to more than 4,000 people in the Greater Sassier area.
Our future projects include:
- 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 agricultural processing businesses that will provide jobs, increase agricultural productivity and facilitate access to urban markets within Haiti and select export markets.