Haiti - The Environmental Initiative
One of the newest initiatives at St. Mary Parish, the Environmental Initiative seeks to reverse soil erosion, bolster food supply, and increase access to potable water.
The country of Haiti is about the size of Maryland and bordered by water on three sides. About two-thirds of the country is mountainous. Once one of the richest agricultural lands in the Americas, the mountainous terrain is now steep and eroded with deep gullies. Trees are frequently cut down to make charcoal for cooking. 75% of the population lives in rural areas, concentrated in the few areas suitable for growing food. This concentration increases exposure to and the spread of disease. Less than 45% of Haitians have access to potable water. Residents in Latiboliere may have to walk two hours to find water, then bring it back and boil it over open flames just to eliminate bacteria.
Due to deforestation, soil erosion and lack of access to water, Haiti cannot produce enough food to sufficiently feed its population. Over 60% of Haiti's children under 5 are underweight or suffer from stunted growth. 63% of Haitians are malnourished.
We have built cisterns near the schools and rectory and recently provided $3,000 to support a government effort to make water more accesible to those in our sister parish. This water will still need to be decontaminated.
We are also working with Trees for Life to provide needed education on what fruits can be grown in the region, which vegetation is most productive and techniques to avoid and reverse soil erosion.
More cisterns are always needed as is continued education and plants and trees to increase food supply. Therefore, cash donations are the primary way to support the environmental initiative.