"Tonight I'm making a vegetable stir fry, thanks to Kore Lavi."

"Tonight I'm making a vegetable stir fry, thanks to Kore Lavi."

Publication info

Posted
11/3/14
By
Sénèq PIERRE-M

In October 2013, the USAID FFP funded Kore Lavi program was launched to support a Government of Haiti led social safety net to improve access to food and nutrition for the most vulnerable households in Haiti.

It's market day in Boucan Carré. The usually quiet little borough is bursting with activity. Merchants are setting-up shop under old arbors, while the local people are chatting or buying their groceries. Crouching in front of a particularly colorful display of fruits and vegetables, a petite woman can be seen vehemently bargaining with a merchant wearing a big straw hat.  After a few minutes of intense negotiations, she hands her a small piece of paper, picks up her basket of produce, and rapidly moves on to the butcher and repeats the same process. She turns to chase away a small dog and catches me staring at her. Her inviting yet slightly puzzled expression encourages me to approach her.

Her name is Marie-Melia Joseph. This mother of eight has walked over an hour from her house to purchase her weekly groceries. "I don't usually buy all this food," she tells me, pointing at her small basket, "we just cannot afford it. We eat what we can harvest from our small family plot and buy what we can with whatever money we make from selling fruits we gather on the road. Some days are better than others but I can't recall the last decent meal we've had. This voucher is really changing my life."

Marie-Melia's life took a different turn four months ago when a group of men came by her house. "At first I was apprehensive; I didn't understand why these men were asking me all these personal questions about my life. What business was it of theirs how many children I had? Fortunately, my son was also present and was more outgoing than I was — you know how boys are. He welcomed them and answered their questions. He then explained to me the reasons behind them. They told us we could be eligible for help from the Kore Lavi program."

Kore Lavi is a USAID-funded program implemented by a consortium formed by CARE, ACF and WFP. The program' goal is to establish a safety net system that will improve access to food among vulnerable households and prevent malnutrition. Kore Lavi works in partnership with Haiti's Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. The safety net component of the program targets 16,500 amongst the poorest families in five departments of Haiti. Each beneficiary household is identified through a rigorous and impartial targeting mechanism and those eligible receive monthly assistance in the form of food vouchers. There are two types of vouchers. The paper voucher is used to purchase fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, yams, meat and fish. The electronic voucher allows the family to buy staple foods such as maize, beans, rice and flour. Both vouchers can only be used to purchase locally grown products and thus promotes local agriculture production and the financial independence of local vendors.

"When the Kore Lavi agent came by our house to announce that we were now part of the program, I didn't know what to think. I could not believe this was really happening. If what they were saying was true, it meant that I could finally rest a little easier and not worry so much about where the next meal would come from. After receiving the vouchers two weeks later, I went to the market and bought my first basket of food."

Kore Lavi participants receive their fresh vouchers monthly at assembly points. Program agents are always available during those distributions to explain the use of the vouchers. They are also present during market day to ensure that Kore Lavi affiliated vendors treat beneficiaries with respect and also observe the program's guidelines.

"Although I was told how to use the vouchers by the Kore Lavi agents during training at distribution day, I didn't feel too comfortable the first time I used it. I spent the entire amount and didn't get a lot of food in return. Today I know better. Now I'm a fierce negotiator; with so many mouths to feed, I can't afford not to be." 

"I can't stay any longer," Marie-Melia tells me with a big smile, "I'm making a vegetable stir fry tonight. The entire family is waiting for me at home and I still have to go buy rice and beans at the store with my electronic voucher, thanks to Kore Lavi."

 

Marie Melia shows off a basket of fresh vegetables she purchased with Kore Lavi vouchers. © Photo: Sénèq Pierre-M/CARE

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