The trailblazers of Tete a Boeuf: cash-for-work

The Lutheran World Federation and it’s partners, including CLWR, has been providing economic and social development in Haiti for many years and will so long after the more than 400 NGO’s active in disaster relief leave.

Cash for work is an important program in development work in Haiti. People are paid for vital work, mostly infrastructure improvement and environmental management. The money allows artisans to produce and market their production, build small businesses or educate children among many good uses. We visited one of these project sites in the mountains of Haiti.

Does it make a difference? What follows is a report from former country director Craig Kippels on the Cash for Work program in the Tete au Boeuf region.

— Tom Brook


Tete a Boeuf farmers widening the treacherous path into a safe, usable road: literally trailblazing!

High in the steep mountains of Grand Goave, 75 kilometers west of Port-au-Prince, a handful of people are hard at work. They are men and women, young and old; they wield hoes and shovels, picks and rakes, in the heavy Haitian sun.

They are farmers, but they are not working in their fields. They are building a road.

This group represents ten of the two hundred people currently involved in a cash-for-work program here in the mountain community of Tete a Boeuf—a program implemented by the Lutheran World Federation Haiti as part of the LWF’s emergency response projects after the devastating January earthquake.

The people of Tete a Boeuf were particularly vulnerable in the months following the quake. With most of their mountainside houses and crops destroyed in massive rockslides, they had no means to buy food, care for their sick, or send their children to school. The LWF distributed seeds and tools during the planting season in April, but until these crops are ready for harvest, the cash-for-work project has been critical in allowing the people here to earn immediate income to meet their most pressing needs.

Under the LWF program, each person works for fifteen days (plus one day of voluntary participation), and are directly supervised by local authorities and local association staff members, who are trained and equipped with materials, thus building local capacity and community ownership. At the end of the work period, workers are paid 3,000 Haitian gourdes ($75). Skilled workers—team leaders, medics, and supervisors—get slightly more. When the project is complete, nearly 2,500 people will have worked on the road and received payment.

In addition, the outcome of the work itself—the building of this road—has an even farther-reaching impact. It used to be that if these farmers had a surplus of crops, they could sell it in Grand Goave town—but to get there, they had to brave a narrow, rocky path that zigzagged down the steep mountainside. Donkeys and people alike easily lost their footing, sometimes resulting in fatal accidents.

Louise Marie Joseph will use the money she receives from the LWF to pay for school fees for her children.

“Now that the road has improved, we can go to town without fearing,” says Cameli Mangi, a widow and mother of five. With the money she received for working, she hopes to start a small business selling vegetables in Grand Goave; the new road will facilitate her journey.

“Merci beaucoup à LWF,” says Louise Marie Joseph, another farmer who has just finished her fifteen days of work. “We are so happy for the road you have built.”

Of course, it’s Louise, Cameli, and their fellow community members in Tete a Boeuf who have built the road themselves. The LWF simply helped them on their way.

Dispatch from the Lutheran World Federation Haiti

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