Haiti: Funding needed to build resilience to food insecurity

by CARE International | @SandraBulling1 | CARE International Secretariat
Thursday, 27 June 2013 13:59 GMT

A scene shows a young standing in front of a tightly packed camp on a hillside in Port au Prince, Haiti on the 13th January, 2013. Three years ago a powerful earthquake claimed the lives of over 200,000 people and displaced thousands more - over 350,00 are still living in camps like this despite a multi billion pound aid effort. Photo: Kate Holt/CARE

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

After tropical storm, hurricane and drought, 1.5 Haitians in need of food aid/Long-term support needed to address chronic food insecurity

Port-au-Prince, June 27, 2013. The humanitarian aid organization CARE International warns that Haiti could slip into a food crisis if funding to support the poorest Haitians is not released immediately. After a series of natural disasters, including Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy, hit the Caribbean country last year, food security sharply declined, causing one in ten Haitians to be without basic food and adequate nutrition. This year’s hurricane season, which just began in June, is predicted to be severe and likely to bring more destruction.

“This is a dire prediction for a country still recovering from severe drought preceding Tropical Storm Isaac and then heavy crop and livestock losses from Hurricane Sandy,” says CARE Haiti’s Country Director, Jean-Michel Vigreux. “Both disasters damaged harvests badly and access to entire communities was blocked due to swollen rivers, fallen bridges and inundated roads. The government estimated that 40 percent of last year’s crop was lost.” As a consequence, food prices have been increasing compared to previous years.

CARE and partners are observing how poor Haitians have already reverted to emergency strategies that affect their health, their assets and livelihoods. “We see people reducing their meals per day. They are not able to afford adequate and nutritious food any more. With the rising food prices, household debt is increasing and many families see no other choice for survival than to sell their property and assets. Others migrate to cities or the neighboring Dominican Republic searching for work to feed their families. Women are particularly affected since they are very vulnerable,” Jean-Michel Vigreux explains.

To meet immediate needs, CARE Haiti is supporting more than 25,000 families with electronic food vouchers. This innovative approach provides vulnerable families with 2,000 Gourdes (${esc.dollar}{esc.dollar}{esc.dollar}50 USD) per month to purchase rice, maize, vegetable oil and beans at local shops. “But,” Vigreux continues, “emergency response can only cover the immediate needs. We are also committed to address the underlying causes of poverty in Haiti.” He adds: “The Government of Haiti has demonstrated its commitment to addressing long-term needs, and CARE needs support to finance long-term programs to build up resiliency to food insecurity in Haiti. Otherwise, as a country vulnerable to weather shocks and climate change impacts we will continue to see crises as this only worsen.”

In order to build resilience and boost people’s capacity to recover from shocks, CARE supports livelihood development by organizing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), which have proven to be one of the most effective, cost-effective mechanisms to provide basic financial services to the poor, particularly in rural areas.

Media contacts:
Port-au-Prince: Sénèq Pierre-Martelly, Communications Officer, spierre@pap.care.org,             +509 48 311609,
Atlanta: Nicole Harris, Media Officer, nharris@care.org, +1 404 9799503
Geneva: Sandra Bulling, Communications Officer, bulling@careinternational.org, +41 79 2056951

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience delivering emergency aid during times of crisis. Our emergency responses focus on the needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly girls and women. Last year, CARE worked in 84 countries and reached more than 83 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care-international.org.