Haiti's misery index rising: resources urgently needed for food and infrastructure

Published on 27 September 2008

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran today called on donor nations to fully fund urgent hunger needs and infrastructure rehabilitation in Haiti, which has been ravaged by a succession of tropical storms.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran today called on donor nations to fully fund urgent hunger needs and infrastructure rehabilitation in Haiti, which has been ravaged by a succession of tropical storms.

“The misery index is rising daily and this will require a massive effort to help people stave off hunger and save lives,” said Sheeran.

Sheeran is the first head of a United Nations agency to visit Haiti since the catastrophe struck. She flew straight to Gonaives on Friday where she visited the Lyceé Fabré Greffrard, currently being used as an emergency shelter for families who lost everything in the floods.

Since September 5, WFP has distributed food to 285,000 people in more than 57 shelters across the city. WFP is working with the IOM, UNICEF, Caritas, Care, Yelé Haiti, Amurt and the Haitian Civil Protection Office.

Urgent hunger needs

WFP needs US$54 million for food, logistics and emergency telecommunications to meet urgent hunger needs.

“The US, Japan, EC, Switzerland and Canada have stepped up with almost $11 million and we can meet urgent food needs until the end of November.

Despite this show of generosity from many nations, we need more help so we can continue with the emergency operation and our other programmes here that will contribute to the longer-term solution President Préval and the people of Haiti so desperately need,” she said.

Almost one month after the disaster struck destroying roads and 3,000 houses, three million cubic metres of mud still need to be removed from the city. Fifty thousand people continue to take refuge in shelters.

Clearing mud from schools

WFP is now providing food for workers who are helping to clear mud from 50 schools, most of them in Gonaives, so they can restart on November 1.

It has also set up a food distribution system across the city giving priority to women to ensure children are properly nourished. The agency aims to feed 800,000 people in Haiti in urgent need of food assistance because of the catastrophe. There is widespread concern about the spread of skin diseases, respiratory infections, dysentery, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid and a serious risk of a malaria epidemic.

The tropical storms also destroyed vast areas of crops, threatening more hunger and misery. “We are determined to help the Haitian people out of this emergency and work toward longer-term sustainable solutions as we do,” said Sheeran.