Haiti: Work in a challenging environment

2 Feb 2023

Naomie Beaujour, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Program Manager in Haiti, talks about the LWF program and the security situation in Haiti.


Haiti house construction

Resident with newly constructed house, after the earthquake in August 2021. Photo: LWF Haiti 

Building resilience in vulnerable communities 

(LWI) - "Haiti is a really beautiful country, but with all that is going on, you don’t see that”, says Naomie Beaujour, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Program Manager in Haiti. On a visit to LWF in Geneva, she talks about the LWF program, the security situation and work that makes a difference. 

The political and economic crisis in Haiti deepened a year ago, following the assassination of the president in 2021 and civil protests against the high cost of living and social insecurity. In 2022, the country saw a political deadlock, rising prices for gas and water, and a surge in gang violence with kidnappings and deaths. Since the fall of 2022, Haiti has also been dealing with a Cholera outbreak. In November 2022, the UN human rights chief Volker Türk warned that Haiti was “on the verge of an abyss”.

“I’m really proud to be working with LWF. My hope is that peace comes back and we can fight for the beauty of Haiti”.

– Naomie BEAUJOUR, program manager LWF Haiti

Haiti sheeps

Sheep breeding in a Credit savings group in Grand’ Anse. Photo: LWF Haiti.

"On the verge of an abyss” 

The situation has not improved, says Beaujour who was born and raised in Port-au-Prince and has witnessed the decline of security and stability in her country for years. Recent months, however, have been increasingly dangerous. “It gets worse every day, the gangs have taken over the terrain”, she says. “There are kidnappings, killings, people are afraid to be out on the streets, especially after dark.”  

The joint LWF-NCA-DKH office is still working, despite these challenges; a shuttle brings NGO workers to their offices so they do not have to risk public transport. Opened in 2017 in Port-au-Prince, the joint office of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) World Service, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) provides support in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), livelihoods, climate adaptation, food security and disaster risk reduction (DRR). In 2021, the program supported over 75,000 people in rural areas. 

The farming communities in rural areas are the ones who suffer most from the social insecurity in the country. Living costs have gone up exponentially, and gangs control the roads leading into the capital. Farmers no longer come to sell their produce, which causes food insecurity in Port-au-Prince, and a lack of cash revenue in the surrounding areas. It also makes it difficult for aid organizations like LWF and its partners to visit the communities outside the city.

Haiti Naomie Beaujour

Naomie Beaujour, LWF program manager in Haiti, on a visit in the LWF head office in Geneva. Photo: LWF/ C. Kästner 

Working with local partners 

“Fortunately, we work with local partners,” Beaujour says. “We talk with them every day, and have regular meetings online. When humanitarian flights allow it, we go to visit the communities.” LWF supports the communities with mutual loans and savings associations, income diversification, entrepreneurial and agricultural activities.  

The team also supports the communities struggling with the rising cost of living. “We provide water, because in the capital it now costs 75c/ 5 Gallon, and people can’t afford that,” Beaujour recounts. “LWF managed to provide clean and safe water to the population in the countryside for less than 1 cent, or free. We also installed a water pump powered by solar energy.” 

As Haiti is geographically located in an area prone to earthquakes and tropical storms, LWF also supports the communities in disaster risk reduction . The rural areas are far away from any help, and with the breakdown of public services, building local structures and giving technical assistance to public institutions provides the best protection. 

Haiti drinking water

Water drinking point in a school reconstructed by the LWF joint program. Photo: LWF Haiti

Concern for the children 

The other focus for the joint office in Haiti is education. LWF supports several schools in rural areas with water and sanitation infrastructure. Schools in these times provide stability that children often lack otherwise, Beaujour says. “At home, the children experience stress, maybe even violence. Most of them have had a family member killed or kidnapped. They lose their friends because many leave the country,” Beaujour explains. Because of the social insecurity there is a lack of cultural activities like movies, theatres or youth clubs.   

While this work makes a difference in the countryside, in the city, school is no longer safe. On 26 January, schoolchildren demonstrated in Port-au-Prince following a gang kidnapping of a teacher and six students. Many parents are afraid to let their children walk alone in the street, and they cannot afford the bus tickets. 

“Education is hope, and that’s the most important thing we can give to the children. How can they grow if they do not go to school?” Beaujour asks. 

While the work is demanding, Beaujour emphasizes how much it makes a difference in the lives of the communities she serves. “When I go to the field, people say: thank you, they are smiling, they have crops, water and a safe home. I think I can contribute to that”, she concludes. “I’m really proud to be working with LWF. My hope is that peace comes back and we can fight for the beauty of Haiti”.



LWF/C. Kästner-Meyer