24 October 2016 – An assessment conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), together with the Haitian Government and its National Coordination for Food Security (CNSA), has determined that in the wake of Hurricane Matthew some 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, 800,000 of whom are in a dire situation.
The emergency survey was conducted one week after the Category 4 storm, which devastated supplies and crops across the island.
Fifty per cent of livestock was lost and agriculture has been virtually wiped out in the Department of Grande-Anse, a department in the southwest. Along the southern coast, fishing has been rendered impossible, as flooding has washed away nets, traps, boats, and engines.
Without fishing income, families have no money to buy food.
Moreover, in the Department of Sud, just south of Grande-Anse, subsistence crops are gone.
Ninety per cent of the forest and fruit trees in the department were severely damaged, and the remaining ten percent are unlikely to be productive in the coming season.
“Local products on the markets will soon be depleted and we need more funding in order to continue food distributions to help 800,000 people in need of food aid which is more than urgent,” announced Miguel Barreto, the Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean for WFP, in a news release.
With the winter crop season approaching, the situation for agricultural producers who have lost everything is desperate.
“If we don’t act now to provide them with seed, fertilizer, and other materials they need, they will not be able to plant and will be faced with persisting food insecurity,” urged FAO’s Representative in Haiti, Nathanaël Hishamunda.
FAO is committed to working with Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture in order to implement the emergency response plan, which will focus on helping people resume agricultural activities and improving food security in rural areas.
While the southern part of Haiti has seen some of the worst devastation, elsewhere between 60 and 90 per cent of crops have been destroyed.
In the Department of Artibonite, 60 to 80 per cent of livestock were wiped out, and the assessment found a forty percent trade loss for fishing communities in the Department of Sud-Est.
In order to meet the food assistance needs in Haiti, the humanitarian community requires an additional $56 million over the next three months.
UN chief calls on General Assembly to ‘fulfil moral duty’ to assist storm-ravaged Haiti
Meanwhile, briefing the United Nations General Assembly on the humanitarian situation in Haiti following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew, Ban Ki-moon underlined the urgency of additional resources to help respond to the dire needs on the island.
“People who before had little, now have nothing. No homes. No crops. No livestock and no livelihoods,” Ban on 20 October 2016 told an informal meeting of the General Assembly.
“Access to the hardest hit areas is difficult. People are in desperate need of food, water and shelter,” he added, recalling his visit to Les Cayes, one of the most-affected areas, along with Jérémie, in the south-west of the country, where the hurricane made landfallon 4 October.
Barely a week after the storm, on 10 October, the UN launched a nearly $120 million “flash appeal” to fund its humanitarian response in the aftermath of the disaster.
A large part of the request ($56 million) focused on providing emergency food, nutrition and agriculture to the people of Haiti.
Other sectors in the appeal included water and sanitation, emergency shelter and non-food items, health, protection, logistics and communication, early recovery and livelihoods, education, and coordination.
However, 10 days since its launch, the appeal is only 22 per cent funded, said Ban.
The UN chief stressed that funding is required to step-up response in the fight against cholera on the island. Efforts to address this water-borne disease were also severely affected after Hurricane Matthew hit.
“Last Friday, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson briefed the Member States on our efforts,” Mr. Ban reminded delegations today, informing them that the Organization is also developing a proposal to bring assistance to those most directly affected by cholera and that he would present this plan to the Assembly in due course.
Appealing to all Member States to respond with financial support needed on both these tracks to ensure success, the Secretary-General emphasized: “We must fulfil our moral duty to the people of Haiti.”
2016 Human Wrongs Watch