Haiti: Late rainfall increases food insecurity

7 July, 2011
A woman and her two daughters at the Martissant camp feeding centre where they receive sachets of fortified peanut paste, which helps meet young children's nutritional needs. Credit: WFP/David Orr
A woman and her two daughters at the Martissant camp feeding centre where they receive sachets of fortified peanut paste, which helps meet young children's nutritional needs. Credit: WFP/David Orr

The late arrival of the rainy season in some areas of Haiti is likely to affect food production from the spring harvest season and thus the overall food security situation.

According to the latest OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin, the rains - which generally come by the end of March - did not begin until the middle of April in departments including Sud-Est, Nord-Est, Ouest, and Nord-Ouest. The harvest of spring crops, which typically provides 60% of the annual agricultural production, is expected to be below average, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET).

Recent rains have helped farming but also triggered outbreaks of malaria and cholera. It, in turn, will affect the food security situation because people have to spend more on healthcare.

With dwindling supplies of locally grown crops, there has been a 9.5% increase in food prices (except rice), coupled with a continued rise of inflation rate on the local market since October 2010. Some low income families, whose purchasing power is declining, have been reducing their number of daily meals, food portions, and diversity in their diet. Poor families living in camps are expected to face moderate to severe levels of food insecurity during June and July.

Food partners are now supporting the most vulnerable people through income generating programmes such as Cash-for-Work and Food-for-Work. WFP has initiated a cash transfer project for some 10,000 families.

Hot meals are provided in schools through a national school canteen programme, while nutritional supplements are also being given to children under the age of 5, pregnant and lactating women, and people living with HIV/Tuberculosis.

Isolated pockets of high malnutrition have also been reported in Grande-Anse department. An inter-agency assessment mission was organized by nutrition partner agencies including UNICEF, WFP and MDM-F, the Ministry of Public Health and local authorities to assess response capacity and see how they can better deal with malnutrition cases in remote areas like Moron. They recommended increasing screening people for malnutrition at least once a month during the cyclone season, expanding geographical coverage of nutrition services, and starting blanket supplementary feeding for smaller children and breast-feeding women, alongside routine food distribution. These efforts aim to complement longer-term food security solutions by FAO and other partners.

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