Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
What are the current issues in Haiti
Haiti ranks 161 out of 187countries in the 2012 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).Poverty, depletion of the environment and the limited capacity of the authorities to respond to a crisis means that Haiti is highly vulnerable to even moderate climatic shocks. Three quarters of Haitians live on less than US$2 per day and half of the population earns less than US$1 per day. Access to education is low, with illiteracy rates almost 50%. In rural areas, almost 90 percent live below the poverty level and basic social services are practically nonexistent.
Over the last two decadesHaiti has been repeatedly affected by political crises and a series of severe natural disasters, the worst of which was the devastating earthquake on the 12th of January 2010.
Poverty, depletion of the environment and the limited capacity of the authorities to respond to a crisis means that Haiti is highly vulnerable to even moderate climatic shocks. Three quarters of Haitians live on less than US$2 per day and half of the population earns less than US$1 per day. Access to education is low, with illiteracy rates almost 50%. In rural areas, almost 90 percent live below the poverty level and basic social services are practically nonexistent. Haiti ranks 161 out of 187countries in the 2012 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).
In 2012, Haiti was marked by a series of natural disasters that threatened the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million people. Droughts, tropical storm Isaac and hurricane Sandy all added to Haiti’s challenges.
The latest government food security surveys show that by the end of 2013 the situation has improved and the number of food insecure people has halved to 3 million.
However, Food insecurity is persistent in Haiti and today nearly a third of the population is considered food insecure; of these 600,000 need external food assistance to survive. Currently, one in every 5 children suffers from chronic malnutrition, 6.5% percent from acute malnutrition, while more than half of women and children suffer from anemia.
For the next 3 years, WFP plans to work closely with the Haitian government to find long-term solutions to hunger and malnutrition in the country by building resilience. From 2014, the focus will be on creating assets and improving infrastructure so the most vulnerable can be protected from potential shocks. To support the government in the goal of increasing food security, WFP will help develop a food safety net system to protect the most vulnerable and will support local markets across the country. Working with the government, local authorities, UN and NGO partners, WFP is implementing programmes to provide food assistance to 1.4 million Haitians.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Haiti
WFP and its partners are assisting victims of the earthquake and vulnerable Haitians with programmes supporting the Government’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development in Haiti.
School Meals Programme
When a new school year started in October 2010, WFP increased its support of the Government’s National School Meals Programme. Everyday, more than a million children in the country’s ten departments receive a hot nutritious meal at school. “Sometimes, we don’t have enough food at home, it’s good to know that my child will find something good to eat at school”, said Etienne Olguy, the father of a girl studying in a 4th grade class. As one Port-au-Prince school principal put it, the school meals programme is essential because “if the students don’t eat, they can’t see, they can’t hear, they can’t learn”.
Another WFP priority is to increase the quantity of food purchased locally and used in the school meals program. This is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Begun in 2010, a pilot project provides schools with cooking stoves fueled by briquettes made of recycled paper and cardboard. This initiative reduces charcoal consumption in the country.
Cash and Food for Work
In collaboration with the government and partners, WFP expanded its employment programme by hiring workers paid in food, cash or a combination of both.
Shortly after the earthquake, thousands of Haitians were hired to clean canals and ditches to prevent flooding during the rainy season. They also started tackling the huge task facing the country: removing rubble from the earthquake, a crucial step to allow people to start rebuilding their communities.
Projects financed by WFP all have one thing in common: they help Haitians provide food for their families. They also give people opportunities to improve their communities and reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters.
Working in close coordination with the Haitian government, local authorities, NGOs and UN agencies, cash and food for work activities include but are not limited to rubble removal, watershed management and agricultural rehabilitation.
Immediately after the earthquake, it was difficult to measure the impact of the catastrophe on children under 5 and on pregnant and lactating women. There was a risk that malnutrition rates could explode. Working with its partners, WFP decided to tackle this problem by adopting an innovative strategy based on prevention and treatment. Blanket distributions of fortified foods designed to combat malnutrition were organized.
An independent study done with the support of the Ministry of Health demonstrated that this approach helped Haiti avoid a nutritional crisis in the aftermath of the earthquake.
More than a year later, nutrition interventions are ongoing. Pregnant and lactating women, as well as children under 5 receive fortified foods, such as fortified peanut paste and corn soya blend, along with oil and sugar, to treat malnutrition.
WFP is providing food assistance to Haitians affected by HIV/ tuberculosis as well as their family members.
Because of Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters, WFP is working closely with the Haitian Directorate of Civil Protection to ensure the country is ready to respond to emergencies. Again this year, food is pre-positioned in the most vulnerable areas across the country.
Prepositioning is important because when Haiti is hit by torrential rains, many roads can become impassable. With stocks already in place, WFP will be able to reach the population quickly.
Featured Haiti publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Haiti? Visit the Haiti publications archive.