Haiti and Dominican Republic launch effort to create green border

01 Jun 2011

image The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

Port-au-Prince – Haiti and the Dominican Republic kicked off a joint project last month to increase vegetation cover and improve living conditions for people on both sides of the countries’ shared border.

The two neighbours, sharing the island of Hispaňola, launched a four-year project, Green Border (Frontera Verde, in Spanish), to reduce high levels of natural disaster risk for local inhabitants along the border that runs through several rivers and watersheds.

Centuries of man-made deforestation have reduced forest cover to about two percent in Haiti and 21 percent in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s wildlife habitats have been destroyed or seriously damaged with 25 to 30 watersheds largely degraded or altered.

"Today we are pleased to work hand in hand with the Dominicans on sustainable management of natural resources and economic development, creating opportunities to help fight poverty," said Jean Marie Claude Germain, Haitian Minister of Environment.

The two governments will implement the US$3.5 million project, funded primarily by Norway’s development agency, in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Food Programme (WFP).

The project will restore areas in shared watersheds, such as the Massacre River, part of a Haiti-Dominican Republic natural boundary where approximately 134,000 live on the Haitian side and 9,000 on the Dominican side.

In these areas, UNDP and partners will train local authorities and farmer organizations so they can manage their natural resources in a more sustainable way, including, for example, revamping irrigation systems and improving sanitation for rural households.

 “After the earthquake, we decided to prioritize our commitment to Haiti,” said Ingrid Fiskaa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway. “Environmental issues, disaster risk reduction and extending employment opportunities across the country are all crucial for the development of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.”

“We hope that the existing cooperation in the environment may serve as an example, also to address cross-border matters such as tourism, culture, education and agriculture," said Jessica Faieta, UNDP Haiti Senior Country Director