The launch of a new joint food distribution programme in two of the Haitian capital’s most violent and vulnerable neighborhoods was announced today by WFP and Yéle Haiti, founded by the Haitian singer/songwriter, Wyclef Jean, after the devastation of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004.
“Children fear not the storm, because after the storm, it gets calm, and that’s when the sun comes out. Yéle Haiti,” says Wyclef Jean.
Large scale food distributions had been significantly decreased or even stopped altogether last year in Cité Soleil and Bel Air because of the prevailing level of danger and violence.
Hip hop distributions
Children fear not the storm, because after the storm, it gets calm, and that’s when the sun comes out. Yéle Haiti
However, in June this year, Yéle Haiti organized local hip hop musicians to distribute rice, beans and vegetable oil right into the homes of some of the world’s poorest people. WFP has agreed to provide food for continued distributions in these two areas.
Burdened by unprecedented levels of poverty and a lack of services and infrastructure, Cité Soleil and Bel Air are the poorest slums in Haiti, which is itself the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Overall unemployment in Haiti is 80 percent, and even higher in these districts where there is little hope of getting a job. Open sewers run through the slum shacks, which are often built on mounds of garbage.
The deplorable food conditions in these two districts include residents baking mud pies, using toxic clay, containing a small amount of nutrients, which they gather from the polluted earth.
The mixture is formed into clay patties, and laid in the sun to bake. This has been a way of life in Cité Soleil and Bel Air for decades.
Yéle Haiti and WFP carry out food distributions twice a month, feeding approximately 2,700 people per day; that number is planned to increase soon.
Beneficiaries, from among the most vulnerable inhabitants, are chosen by local community centers. The hip hop musicians distribute the food mainly to women, the traditional heads of families in Haiti.
“Working with Yéle Haiti has allowed us to reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti, namely the women and children of Cite Soleil and Bel Air. We are therefore very happy about this new cooperation,” says WFP Haiti Country Director, Mamadou Mbaye.
As one of the most disadvantaged countries in the developing world, Haiti ranks 153 out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index (2005).
Chronic malnutrition is widespread among the most vulnerable, with severe or moderate stunting affecting 42 percent of children under five. Easily preventable, maladies like malnutrition and diarrhoea kill 28 percent and 20 percent of children under five years old, respectively.
Food supply covers only 55 percent of the population and daily food insecurity affects 40 percent of Haitian homes.
Haiti ranks along with Afghanistan and Somalia as one of the three countries of the world with the worst daily caloric deficit per inhabitant (460 kcal/day). Some 2.4 million Haitians cannot afford the minimum 2,240 daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.