WFP Initiates Barge Operations in Haiti

WFP Haiti, in conjunction with the Logistics Cluster, has initiated barge operations from the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince in support of emergency preparedness for the hurricane season. With the prohibitive cost of air operations, and the highly insecure environment on land, the waterways provide smooth transit for humanitarian goods and materials along coastal waterways.

In September of this year an assessment team led by WFP Port Captain Niels Olsen flew to Jeremie in western Haiti to assess the the suitability of the 1,700 metric ton capacity barge, Rebecca.

After ascertaining the suitability of the barge for operations a charter was signed with the vessel's owner and the barge transited to Port-au-Prince to begin preparations for its first voyage.

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The barge operations are expected to continue until the end of December and is available for use by the humanitarian community free of charge. The barge is currently slated to deliver a load of medical equipment for a Cuban medical team to Anse-d'Hainault which is situated on the western most tip of the island. The consignment will include eight trucks loaded with food and medical supplies. The trucks will operate in a 'roll on, roll off' fashion with the trucks driving off the vessel under their power and not being hoisted off with the aid of a mechanical lift.

The enormous carrying capacity of the barge allows it to easily transport vehicles as well as goods. Copyright: WFP/Niels Olsen

The barge operation is a European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funded project and is one of several projects that WFP currently manages in Haiti. Hard hit during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season the island of Haiti has seen both WFP air and ground operation run in conjunction with members of the Logistics Cluster. Currently, the inter-agency fleet of trucks, that we highlighted a few months back, operates in the rugged and mountainous interior of the country.

Special thanks to: Niels Olsen, Christian Fortier, Edmondo Perrone and the entire WFP Haiti team!