The Republic of Haiti
Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas ranking 163rd out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). Its economy has been repeatedly affected by political crises and natural disasters in the last two decades. Six years after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s population of 11 million continues to face humanitarian and development challenges.
What are the current issues in Haiti?
In Haiti, 59 percent of people live in poverty and close to 25 percent in extreme poverty, while the richest 1 percent of Haitians own the same wealth as 45 percent of the poorest population. Three-quarters of Haitians live on less than US$2 per day and half of the population earns less than US$1 per day. Many people don’t have ready access to electricity, water, sanitation, or healthcare.
Haiti is the country that is third most-affected by extreme weather events, according to the Climate Risk Index. Over the last two decades Haiti has been repeatedly hit by a series of severe natural disasters, the worst of which was the devastating earthquake on 12 January 2010. Recurrent natural disasters include severe storms, flooding, landslides and drought. In 2016, Haiti experienced its third consecutive year of drought, exacerbated by the global El Nino weather phenomenon. An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) released in February 2016, found that 3.6 million Haitians were facing food insecurity, and among them more than 1.5 million were severely food insecure.
More than 50 percent of the population is undernourished, according to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report, produced by WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Millennium Development Goal target to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015 has not been achieved, and has shown slow progress. About 22 percent of children aged under five are stunted, according to the EMMUS 2012, while 5 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
Low food production
Agriculture provides 50 percent of jobs in the country and accounts for 25 percent of GDP, but Haiti fails to produce enough food for its needs. National production accounts for about 50 percent of food needs, with the difference covered by imports. Food imports meet more than 80 percent of its main staple, rice (2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, IFAD and WFP). Any price hikes in international markets or interruption in government fuel subsidies would increase the cost of living and put pressure on Haitians’ pockets.
What is the World Food Programme doing in Haiti?
WFP’s operations are focused on supporting the government and achieving the long-term goals of sustainable safety nets and ending chronic malnutrition in Haiti. World Food Programme has been working in Haiti since 1969.
WFP delivers daily hot meals to 485,000 schoolchildren in over 1,700 predominantly public schools in nine of Haiti’s ten departments. WFP’s school meals programme represents the country's largest food safety net and supports the Government’s efforts to establish a Haitian-owned programme by 2030.
One of WFP’s priorities is to increase the quantity of food purchased locally and used in the school meals programme. WFP runs a pilot programme in the department of Nippes in which WFP provides schools with locally produced foods by buying directly from small farmers, improving children’s diet diversity and stimulating local markets.
Cash and Food for Assets
Food for Assets activities target 225,000 people to reinforce their resilience and reduce community vulnerability to future shocks while meeting immediate food needs. Under this activity, participants are provided with cash transfers for their participation in asset creation activities which rehabilitate productive infrastructure, protect watersheds, build rural farmers’ skills and improve their families’ food security. In 2015, more than 100 hectares of forest were planted during Cash for Assets programmes.
Under the Kore Lavi project WFP delivers supplementary food rations to prevent increases in acute malnutrition rates. WFP provides assistance to 5,000 children aged under five, as well as 40,000 children under two and 31,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers who receive complementary feeding through the 1,000 Days approach to prevent stunting and micronutrient deficiencies.
Every year, WFP pre-positions food (high-energy biscuits and staples such as rice, beans and oil) before hurricane season, from June through November. This is to cover the potential needs of up to 300,000 people for a month in the event of an emergency. With these food stocks already in place, WFP is able to reach the population quickly if needed.
WFP is also working closely with the Haitian Directorate of Civil Protection to set up emergency radio communication centers to ensure the communications in case of emergency.
In 2016, WFP launched an Emergency Operation to address the immediate food needs of 1 million persons affected by one of the worst droughts in recent decades. WFP’s emergency response follows the two-phased approach proposed by the Government: emergency/recovery plan. During the first phase, WFP aims to assist one million people with unconditional cash transfers. During the second phase, 200,000 people will receive cash transfers in exchange for their participation in asset creation activities.
World Food Programme partners in Haiti
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Haiti:
- National School Meals Programme (PNCS)
- Ministry of Education (MENFP)
- Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR)
- National Food Security Coordination Agency (CNSA)
- Directorate for Civil Protection (DPC)
- Ministry of Health (MSPP)
- Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MAST)
- WFP works in collaboration with other United Nations Agencies such as the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNICEF
Featured Haiti publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Haiti? Visit the Haiti publications archive.