Haiti: 6 Months After Hurricanes, WFP Remains a Lifeline

Published on 09 March 2009

 Copyright: WFP/David Orr

Hundreds of families on Gonaives, on Haiti's west coast, lost everything when a series of hurricanes hit Haiti last September. As they rebuild their lives, many rely on feeding centres that use WFP food.

GONAIVES -- Micheline Anosier is feeding porridge to her 18-month old daughter, Merline. Some of the mixture has ended up on Merline’s face but she’s clearly enjoying the meal. Around them in the feeding centre, other mothers and children are grouped, chatting and eating in the heat of the early afternoon. 

“I don’t know what I’d do without this place”, says Micheline. “I’ve really got no other way of feeding her. I’d be a beggar in the street. This is the only meal Merline gets each day”. 

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Devastated by torrential rain

Micheline and her husband are among hundreds families who lost everything when a series of hurricanes hit Haiti last September. Gonaives, on the west coast, was devastated as torrential rains washed down from the surrounding hills and poured into the town. Hundreds were drowned, houses were destroyed and fields were laid waste. 

Micheline and her husband lost their home as well as the stock of cosmetics he sold for a living. They now live with her mother, six people in two rooms. 

Some 600 mothers and children call into this feeding centre, the Cantine Populaire a Jubile, every day. It’s one of 21 supplementary feeding centres which ensure a lifeline for 13,000 vulnerable children under five as well as nursing and pregnant women.

Ingredients provided by WFP

The centres are supported by UNICEF and managed by the aid agency, ACF. The ingredients of the porridge that is distributed – corn soya blend, sugar, oil and milk – are provided by WFP.

The conditions are basic: a mud floor, low, wooden benches and tables inside a large tent of green plastic sheeting which casts an otherworldly glow on the faces of those inside.

Some 16 per cent of the children in the cantines have been found to be suffering from chronic malnutrition – a figure that would evidently be much higher were there no cantines at all. 

 

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about the author

David Orr

Public Information Officer

David Orr is based in Nairobi as a WFP spokesman for East and Southern Africa.