Some WFP staff were already in Haiti for ongoing operations. Though their office and depots were destroyed, and many had lost loved ones, within hours they were getting food supplies to survivors. High Energy Biscuits – light and easily transportable – were vital in the immediate aftermath.
As the frontline humanitarian relief agency, WFP leads the UN's logistics operation. Despite the destruction of most infrastructure, WFP ensures workers and supplies are able to move by road from the Dominican Republic, by plane into Port au Prince airport, and into ports when possible.
Close to half a million people in Port-au-Prince were homeless and makeshift camps began to form. WFP distributed MREs (meals ready to eat) to those with no cooking facilities in the city. Meals were also delivered to other quake areas, Leogane and Jacmel.
All communications were down when WFP’s emergency telecoms team arrived. They swiftly restored phone and Internet links for the UN, so vital information on disaster needs could be shared. Within a week they’d created a communications hub to serve 100 aid workers.
Port-au-Prince has 300 children’s homes and the quake orphaned many more youngsters. WFP carried out targeted distribution of staple foods and supplements for children in institutions, including special high energy products. Hospitals, too, received special food deliveries.
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran arrived in Haiti on January 20 to assess the situation a week after the earthquake. Destruction to infrastructure means the UN agency is facing its "most complex relief operation ever," she said.
By the end of January, WFP had set up 16 fixed sites in Port-au-Prince. These sites will be the backbone of a food distribution system for the months ahead. WFP’s local partners identified those in need, giving them coupons to be redeemed at a designated site the next day.
To ensure food reaches those most in need, WFP gave food coupons to women, who were the only ones allowed access to the fixed sites. A two week ration of rice – 25 kilos – has been delivered to some 2 million Haitians. Further distribution of other staples are planned.
WFP is working with the government as it plans reconstruction. When the immediate emergency is over, and the time comes begin to rebuild, WFP will be running school meals programmes and food-for-work schemes. It will also work closely with local farmers.
26 May 2014 Haiti: Partnering for Progress