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A market analysis and subsequent interventions following floods in the south-east of Haiti (2004) (Special Supplement 3)

By Pantaleo Creti, Oxfam

In June 2004 continuous rains were at the origin of large landslides and floods in the South East of Haiti, which cause loss of human lives, and destruction of houses, and infrastructures. As part of the food security assessment, Oxfam applied a market analysis tool to assess the impact of the disaster on local markets and to identify interventions to recover normal market functioning. The analysis began by assessing the market value chain, services and environment, before and after the floods. The first step was to identify and interview the actors who were trading key foods and non-food items considered essential for survival and for livelihoods. They included local consumers, women who act as transporters between villagers and middlemen ('Madame Saras'), and retailers. The results were combined with information gathered from farmers' organisations and local community-based organisations. The market-analysis tool applied within the food security assessment is illustrated in figure 5.

The analysis showed that few major local wholesalers supplied the main staple food and other primary commodities. They purchased goods directly from Port au Prince, getting zero-interest loans from general market suppliers on the basis of acquaintance and trust. The wholesalers supplied goods (rice, sugar, flour, oil, beans, cement, etc.) to middlemen, who usually had limited transport facilities, such as donkeys and mules. The middlemen sold commodities in small amounts to numerous retailers, who took the goods on a daily credit basis and sold them in the more marginal areas. Alternatively, Madame Saras would buy direct from general market suppliers in the capital city and supply the retailers. In some cases, producers sold their commodity directly in local markets.

As a result of the floods, wholesalers lost their transport and storage facilities, because trucks were damaged and storehouses were destroyed. They had been left with debts to pay and it was impossible for them to obtain further credit. Middlemen and retailers, including Madame Saras, had been affected both in terms of transport (through loss of their pack animals) and in the loss of the stocks that they kept for sale. The consumers lost both assets and income-earning opportunities, and their purchasing power was therefore much reduced. The general market suppliers were not affected.

Oxfam's response to the floods focused on restoring the far end of the supply chain, targeting the most vulnerable groups, i.e. the poorest consumers (including wage labourers), producers, middlemen, and retailers. Oxfam also re-established some of the market services disrupted during the flooding, such as transport, access to credit, and market information. Cash interventions were considered appropriate because those most affected had lost assets and income and, with assistance to Madame Saras, local markets could be supplied with the necessary goods. Assistance to wholesalers was not considered necessary, because these were among the wealthiest in the community. The cash interventions were targeted as following:

 

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Pantaleo Creti (2006). A market analysis and subsequent interventions following floods in the south-east of Haiti (2004) (Special Supplement 3). Supplement 3: From food crisis to fair trade, March 2006. p41. www.ennonline.net/fex/103/6-5-1

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