Hunger in the news

18 August 2009

Venecia Louis nearly starved last year after four tropical storms pummeled Haiti. Now the 4-year-old's cheeks are pudgier, but her hair is thin and her stomach is swollen -- both telltale signs of malnutrition. Like Venecia, Haiti is barely hanging on as the season's first named storm of hurricane season heads its way. Ana, downgraded to a tropical depression, was moving across the neighboring Dominican Republic on Monday, dumping about four inches of rain. Almost 2 million Haitians do not get enough to eat every day, according to the U.N. World Food Program -- down from 3.3 million last year, which is still about a third of the population. Aid groups have increased emergency stockpiles, but the conditions that put much of Haiti at risk have not changed.

4 August 2009

Though beleaguered with their own financial problems, donor countries say they are not planning to withdraw financial support for cash-strapped Haiti. (..) Though the government has been subsidising food prices since the April riots, as Bettina Luescher of the World Food Programme told IPS, "prices are still higher than the four-year average".

1 July 2009

After years of struggling to meet the requirements for cancellation of most of its $1.7 billion in foreign debt, the country has finally achieved $1.2 billion in debt forgiveness from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
''This is a very positive development for Haiti,'' said Haitian Finance Minister Daniel Dorsainvil.
The debt forgiveness, announced Tuesday by the World Bank, is expected to help Haiti in its effort to get international donors to ante up $353 million in pledges made at an April donors conference.

1 June 2009

Heavy rains this year already have killed at least 11 people, and left more than 600 newly homeless. Rains in the southeast washed out a critical road that a U.N. World Food Program (WFP) truck used to deliver food to Baie d'Orange, where dozens of children died last year from storm-related malnutrition. WFP is now trying to find other means of reaching the isolated community. In the Artibonite Valley, where barren mountain slopes surrounding Gonaives have left the city vulnerable to lethal flash floods, recent rains triggered such a panic that residents ran to rooftops and into the hills. The city, which sits like a clogged bathtub, has the added problem of bad drainage and accumulated earth that quickly turns to mud. ''The season could be very tough,'' said Myrta Kaulard, the WFP representative. ``Because people and infrastructure have not recovered yet from last year and are more vulnerable, a small rain can have the impact of a storm.''

19 May 2009

As another hurricane season approaches, people in Haiti are still digging out from a devastating series of storms last summer and fall. (..) About 60 percent of the city has been cleared, says Jean-Pierre Mambounou, local director for the U.N. World Food Program. He also coordinates relief work with other groups in the area, including the Red Cross and CARE. "This area was completely under water and mud," he says, gesturing to a busy street. Roadside vendors hawk their wares amid the dust churned up by dozens of dump trucks hauling dirt out of the city.

16 April 2009

International donors pledged Tuesday to provide Haiti with $324 million over the next two years, well below the $900 million that the country's prime minister says the government needs over that period. The pledges were announced after representatives from more than 30 donor countries and international organizations gathered to raise money to help the Western Hemisphere's poorest country recover from last year's devastating hurricanes and food riots. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a conflict watchdog, last month urged donors to provide the struggling Caribbean country $3 billion over the next few years.
The $324 million in pledges include about $41 million in budget support for 2009, according to Pablo Bachelet, a spokesman for the Inter-American Development Bank, which hosted the conference. Bachelet provided no breakdown of donors' pledges.

15 April 2009

Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis, the prime minister of Haiti, has urged the global community to do more for the impoverished Caribbean island at a donor conference in Washington DC. Pierre-Louis told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that while at least $77m had been pledged Haiti still needed more from donors. [...] Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo, reporting from Gonaives in Haiti, said 80 per cent of Haitians are living in poverty with three million affected by food shortages. While some organisations such as the World Food Programme have feeding centres in the country, their funding runs out in June and they are concerned where future money will come from.

5 April 2009

For all the American and international efforts to fight global poverty, one thing is clear: Those efforts won’t get far as long as women like Nahomie Nercure continue to have 10 children. [...] As we walked through Cité Soleil, the Haitian slum where she lives, her elementary-school-age children ran stark naked around her. The $6-a-month rental shack that they live in — four sleep on the bed, six on the floor beside it — has no food of any kind in it. The family has difficulty paying the fees to keep the children in school. There’s simply no way to elevate Nahomie’s family, and millions like it around the world, unless we help such women have fewer children.

1 April 2009

Micheline Anosier is feeding porridge to her 18-month-old daughter, Merline. Quite a lot of the gruel has ended up on Merline's face but, judging by her expression, she's enjoying the meal. Around them in the Cantine Populaire a Jubile, 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. [...] This cantine is one of 21 supplementary feeding centres which opened at the end of last year as a joint programme by the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Action Contre la Faim (ACF) and Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT). The ingredients of the porridge – corn soya blend (CSB), sugar, oil and milk – are provided by WFP.

31 March 2009

It is easy to visit Haiti and see only poverty. But when I visited recently with former President Bill Clinton, we saw opportunity. Yes, Haiti remains desperately poor. It has yet to fully recover from last year’s devastating hurricanes, not to mention decades of malign dictatorship. Yet we can report what President René Préval told us: “Haiti is at a turning point.” It can slide backwards into darkness and deeper misery, sacrificing all the country’s progress and hard work with the United Nations and international community. Or it can break out, into the light toward a brighter and more hopeful future. [...] President Clinton and I saw many good signs during our trip, both large and small. One day we visited an elementary school in Cité Soleil, a slum in Port au Prince long controlled by violent gangs before U.N. peacekeepers reclaimed it. It did my heart good to see these children. They were well-fed, thanks to the U.N. World Food Program. Even better, they were happy and they were learning — as children should. It was a sign of more normal times.