Geographical context

The High Plateau is the concentration zone of the Papaye Peasant Movement, the first and largest peasant movement of the country. The presence of MPP and the partnership with several NGOs, often in close collaboration with Catholic missions, have created a dynamic in this zone that is particular for the country. The suppression, during the period of the coup d’etat, was incidentally concentrated on the Plateau as well.

1. Location

The Central Plateau covers a surface of 5,400 km2, 20% of the country’s total surface area. It is limited in the North by the Massif of the North, by the Black Mountain Range in the West, by the Water Hole Range (Trou d’Eau) in the South, and by the Haitian-Dominican Border in the East, where the San Juan Valley creates the geological extension.

2. Population

The total population reached 678,626 inhabitants, including an urban population of about 65,000 inhabitants, making the rate of urbanization very low (8.2%). This is a region that is not very populated with 13% of total population of the country. The population is essentially rural and lives depending on agriculture for the most part.

3. Land

The land of the Central Plateau is composed largely of alluvium originating from the Back Mountains and the Massif of the South. It is very heterogeneous and also very eroded. This phenomenon has its roots in a natural process; a strong recovery in recent quaternary erosion was, of course, greatly accelerated by human occupation (by deforestation, inadequate practice cultures, etc.). These soils are poor and the very little irrigation is practiced, despite the presence of numerous rivers. The poor quality of the soils is exacerbated by the unsustainable exploitation of resources.

4. Climate

The average rainfall reaches about 1.7 mm. Nevertheless, the pluviometer varies greatly with the altitude and the prevailing wind from the northeast. The average temperature of the plains stays between 25oC and 27oC.

5. Agriculture

The agriculture of the Central Plateau is one of subsistence and is self-sustaining: the systems of production aims, above all, to ensure the home consumption of the family with the highest security possible against the hazards of climate. The peasants dispose of weak technical and financial resources. Technical support is almost inexistent. The properties are, in general, less than a hectare. Approximately 30% of the population is landless peasants. They are both sharecroppers and agricultural workers. There are very few large properties, with the exception of those, which are the vast majority, of the State, and some properties of the Catholic Church. The commercialization of the agricultural products is at the hands of speculators who quickly and unlawfully get rich at the expense of the peasants. They are often forced to sell the flowers of their harvest to meet pressing needs.

6. Education

In the Central Plateau, the rate of illiteracy is very high (more than 90% of the rural population). However, the rate is lower in the urban areas. The illiteracy hinders the individuals to flourish and is one of the handicaps of the region’s socio-economic development. According to the available statistics, the rate of enrollment of school-aged children is very low.

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