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Hurricane Sandy hit Cuba and Haiti hard when it passed through the two countries in late October causing deaths and destroying infrastructure, agricultural land and in many cases worsening the food security, health, financial and nutrition situation for many vulnerable groups.

Sustained winds reached upwards of 200 km/h as Sandy lashed Santiago de Cuba and Holguin—Cuba’s second and third most populated provinces, respectively. In Cuba, the storm caused 11 deaths and affected an additional 3 million people (20 per cent of the country’s population). At least 200,000 homes were damaged and 17,000 destroyed. The urban context of the affected area in Cuba makes the situation very complex. Infrastructure was severely damaged including electricity distribution, communication systems, warehouses, storage facilities, and industrial and public institutions. Santiago de Cuba is an extremely important economic artery for the country and region. Therefore, the impact that the city sustained will have consequences for the rest of Cuba.

In Haiti, Sandy brought three consecutive days of heavy rain and severe flooding and caused several deaths and infrastructural damages. As a result, the Government of Haiti declared a state of emergency on 30 October. The hurricane generated a number of critical humanitarian needs and exacerbated existing ones. Of utmost concern in Haiti are the 1.5 million people living in severe food insecurity in rural areas that were affected by the hurricane. These people have lost their agricultural land and livelihoods, and up to 450,000 adults and 4,000 children under age 5 are now at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Combined with the impacts of droughts and Tropical Storm Isaac, the entire country’s food-security situation is threatened.

In response, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated US$5.5 million Cuba and $4 million to Haiti through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The allocations will help UN agencies and humanitarian partners provide support in agriculture, food security, nutrition, health, education, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene.

The funds aim to assist 900,000 affected people.