<!-- IMAGE -->
Haiti's President René Preval took part in ceremonies in Port Au Prince, October 8, launching a major United States government investment project aimed at improving agricultural production and environmental quality in Haiti.
Through its Watershed Initiative For National Natural Environmental Resources, or WINNER project, the United States Agency for International Development will invest $126 million over 5 years to increase farmer productivity and reduce Haiti's environmental, infrastructural, and economic vulnerability. "We must – and we can – pursue economic growth and protect the environment at the same time," said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten.
Promoting sustainable watershed management practices in Haiti remains a national priority. WINNER project experts stress that Haitian farmers, non-governmental organizations, agribusinesses and construction firms, and government authorities must work closely together to manage and protect Haiti's key watersheds. USAID's WINNER project provides a national forum for bringing together these actors – particularly farmers – through a series of public-private partnerships.
WINNER will work with communities to create micro watershed management plans, strengthen farmer associations, provide access to extension services and vital supplies, including seeds, fertilizers, credit, and tools, and restore protective tree cover. "This will take years of hard work," said Ambassador Merten, "but this new strategy has the potential to turn back centuries of deforestation."
Ambassador Merten also congratulated the Government of Haiti for taking a very important step, by creating the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Land Management under the leadership of the Prime Minister, which will set national policy for watershed management. Ambassador Merten expressed great pleasure "that the Government of Haiti is leading this effort, which is so vitally important to Haiti."
The Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources is being implemented by Chemonics International, an international development consulting firm. A key feature of WINNER is the $100 million Watershed Investment Fund, which will support key watershed activities, help build capacity and collaborate with other projects and donors.
The United States remains committed to working with the Haitian government and its international partners to help the Haitian people build a better future.