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New operation provides WFP food aid to 550,000 Haitians

NEW OPERATION PROVIDES WFP FOOD AID TO 550,000 HAITIANS

PORT-AU-PRINCE - For the next two years, 550,000 Haitians - the vast majority of them women and children - will be guaranteed at least one nutritious meal every day, provided by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

In an effort to improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable, WFP today launched a new Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), which will provide food aid to more than half a million hungry poor Haitians for two years, at a cost of US$40 million. Seventy-six percent of Haitians live on less than USS2 per day, while 55 percent live on less than US$1 per day.

"This is a country which has suffered from long-term economic and social deterioration. Increased insecurity and natural disasters have further weakened people's fragile health and nutritional status. This new operation enables us to make a real difference for the lives of the most vulnerable people in Haiti," said Guy Gauvreau, WFP Haiti Country Director.

A contribution of US$7.2 million to the new PRRO has already been confirmed by the Government of Canada.

"In the shadow of a series of devastating crises unfolding in Haiti in the past year, it is extremely gratifying to see such a generous response from the Canadian government," said Gauvreau. "We are sincerely grateful for Canada's continuing support to WFP, which is crucial for us to improve the nutrition and health status of children, mothers and other vulnerable people," Gauvreau said.

Noting the increasing commitment of Canada's development assistance programme for Haiti, Aileen Carroll, Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, said: "Historically, Canada has been one of WFP's top donors in Haiti. Today's announcement is part of a larger Canadian contribution to Haiti's Interim Cooperation Framework, which is more than US$180 million over two years. Clearly, Canada remains committed to helping the people of Haiti get on the right path the path towards sustainable development."

The new PRRO is a consolidation of current programmes into a cohesive two-year operation with two distinct components.

The recovery component will use 85 percent of the food resources and will comprise community nutrition activities including nutritional education for malnourished children under five and anaemic pregnant and nursing women, food assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and food-for-recovery activities.

The relief component, using 15 percent of the food resources, will allow WFP to respond rapidly but adequately to emerging needs, providing food aid immediately to vulnerable victims of natural disasters or civil strife.

WFP's aim is to improve nutrition and health among children, mothers and other vulnerable women. It will also increase the ability of food insecure households affected by disasters or civil unrest to manage shocks, secure their livelihoods and meet their food needs.

WFP will continue its school feeding activities under the current Country Programme to reach an estimated 290,000 primary school children, including children in the most insecure areas in North, North-East, West and Artibonite. The overall objective is to support access to education and reduce gender disparity in access to education and skills training.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and one of the most disadvantaged countries in the developing world. It ranks 153 out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index (2004). Chronic malnutrition is widespread among the most vulnerable, with severe or moderate stunting affecting 42 percent of children under five. While easily preventable, maladies like malnutrition and diarrhoea kill 28 percent and 20 percent of children aged 0 - 5, respectively.

Food supply covers only 55 percent of the population and daily food insecurity affects 40 percent of Haitian homes. Haiti ranks along with Afghanistan and Somalia as one of the three countries of the world with the worst daily caloric deficit per inhabitant (460 kcal/day). Some 2.4 million Haitians cannot afford the minimum 2,240 daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Visit our website: www.wfp.org

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Guy Gauvreau/Alejandro Chicheri
WFP/Panama
Tel +507 317 3934
Mob +507 675 0617

Anne Poulsen
WFP/Haiti
Mob +509 550 86 94

Brenda Barton
Deputy Director Communications
WFP/Rome
Tel. +39-06-65132602
Mob. +39-3472582217

Christiane Berthiaume
WFP/Geneva
Tel. +41-22-9178564
Mob. +41-792857304

Trevor Rowe
WFP/New York
Tel. +1-212-9635196
Mob. +1-6468241112
rowe@un.org

Jennifer Parmelee
WFP/Washington
Tel +1-202-6530010

Gregory Barrow
WFP/London
Tel. +44-20-75929292
Mob. +44-7968-008474

Bettina Luescher
WFP/Berlin
Tel +49-30-20614912
Mob +49-170-9039479