Hurricane Sandy Brings Hardship for Haitian Families


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Published on 21 December 2012

In a country where most of the rural population relies on agriculture and often cultivates small plots of land, climate shocks can leave entire families struggling to get food to eat. (Copyright: Jean-Max Saintfleur)

For many Haitian families who were struggling to recover from a drought and hurricane Isaac, Sandy brought more devastation.



PORT-AU-PRINCE --“I have lost tomatoes, beans and other crops on my three parcels,” says
 Marie-Laurette Remy, a small farmer who makes a living selling her
 harvest and now relies on the emergency food rations she received from the World Food Programme. “My fields were flooded when hurricane Sandy
 hit us.”



In a country where most of the rural population relies on agriculture and often cultivates small plots of land, climate shocks can leave entire families struggling to get food to eat.

Marie-Laurette Remy lives in Marigot, a small community in the South East of Haiti. In
 this community tucked between the sea and the mountain, water and mud
came rushing down when Sandy hit at the end of October. Several houses
 were flooded. Crops and banana trees were washed away or buried under 
the mud.
 Here and in many other communities in the country, people like 
Marie-Laurette are picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how 
they will feed themselves and their families now that their main 
source of food and income is gone.



“It was clear immediately that emergency food assistance would be
 necessary for these families,” said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Representative in Haiti. “Many were already struggling to recover from two other 
weather shocks that had affected their crops in the past six months: A 
drought and hurricane Isaac.”



In the first week following the storm, WFP provided emergency food 
rations to 14,000 Haitians. In November, the agency continues to 
assist 60,000 of the worst-affected families with food including rice
 purchased locally from small holder farmers.



As roads and bridges were badly damaged by the hurricane, it became
 clear once again that maintaining stocks of food and humanitarian
 material in strategic locations throughout the country saves lives.
 Working in coordination with the Directorate for Civil Protection 
(DPC), WFP, other UN agencies and NGOs were able to provide much needed
 relief quickly.



Humanitarian needs are increasing in Haiti. An evaluation conducted 
after the passage of hurricane Isaac estimated that 1.5 million 
Haitians were coping with severe food insecurity. A new assessment is
 underway but initial findings indicate that as many as 20 percent
 of the population is now struggling to get enough food for their 
families.



To ensure the most vulnerable Haitians do not fall over the edge, WFP
 will continue to focus on the prevention and treatment of moderate
 acute malnutrition for 100,000 women and children.

“The food that WFP is giving me today will help me get by for a few
 weeks and I am grateful for that,” said Tericia Jeudi after receiving
 her emergency ration of rice, beans, oil and salt from WFP in Marigot. 
Her five small plots of land were damaged by hurricane Sandy, although
 her house was spared.



“What I really want for the future is help to improve irrigation for
my land so I can grow more food,” Jeudi added, echoing many farmers
 who had gathered to receive their emergency ration. WFP is beginning a new programme to help up to 170,000 people like Tericia Jeudi get better
 access to food by earning a salary while working at improving their 
land.



Myrta Kaulard says that it is crucial at this time to work with the
 authorities to help Haitians rehabilitate agricultural land. 

“At the same time, we have to keep our commitment to fight
 malnutrition and provide meals in schools,” she added.

“The guarantee 
of a meal at school, having access to specialized products to fight
 malnutrition, these are often the only safety nets that the poorest 
Haitians have access to.”

To Read This Story in Creole, Click Here

 

WFP Offices
About the author

Stephanie Tremblay

Public Information Officer

Stephanie Tremblay is a public information officer. Prior to her work with WFP, she was a television journalist.