PORT-AU-PRINCE – Life in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest places in the Nothern Hemisphere, was never easy. But it’s gotten worse since the earthquake.
Janette is among the many women who lost their homes and husbands that day. She says she’s grateful not to have lost her children too, but frightened by the prospect of having to raise them on her own. Never abundant in Cité Soleil, food has been scarce since the earthquake and children like her 15-month-old son Wagnernlov are falling prey to malnutrition.
Mothers and children
Janette says Wagernlov was listless and weak when she first brought him to the Place Fierte supplementary feeding centre in early May. “But after two weeks, he’s already doing better. We come every day and each time he eats a little more,” she said.
Marina Sint Opare, a nutritionist from WFP’s partner in Haiti, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), confirmed that the toddler was in dire straits before he started receiving food aid.
“We have many cases of malnutrition in this area. Children like Wagnerlov did not have a proper diet before the earthquake, which makes them especially vulnerable now that it’s even harder to get nutritious food. Unless we reach them now, they’re in serious danger of suffering permanent harm.”
Peace of mind
To protect Haiti’s youngest from the lifelong scarring of hunger, WFP is providing over 550,000 nursing mothers and children under four with foods specially designed to stave off malnutrition. Kids like Wagnerlov are eating healthy doses of plumpy nut, a nutritional supplement that packs 500 calories and over 16 vitamins and minerals into a 92 g package of fortified peanut-paste.
Families also receive rations of corn soya blend (CSB), oil and sugar to take home and prepare for the rest of the family. In addition to the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince’s slums, the programme is also targeting families who have left the capital for Haiti’s rural countryside.