Haiti: “When You Give Food To Children, You Feed The Whole Family”
The impact of three consecutive natural disasters in 2012 left some 1.5 million Haitians classified as “severely food insecure,” according to Government’s figures. Meanwhile a prolonged drought in the first quarter of 2013 is worsening their situation. WFP is currently distributing take home rations at schools and nutrition health centers, but with dwindling resources, it can only reach 200,000 out of the 400,000 Haitians in need.
PORT-AU-PRINCE –The Village de l’Espoire (Village of Hope) School and Health Centre were bustling with activity. In the first one, parents and students lined up to get an emergency take home ration –made up of High Energy Biscuits or HEBs, beans, oil, sugar and salt--and in the second pregnant and lactating women holding small children qeued up to get their rations made up of Plumpy Sup, Super Cereal, sugar and oil.
Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, the UN World Food Programme and the local NGO Bureau for Nutrition and Development (BND) began the distribution of take home rations among families struggling to recover from last year’s drought, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Hurricane Sandy, and alleviate their plight. A new drought in 2013 only worsen their situation as they could not grow food on their home gardens. Although it has begun to rain sporadically, families do not have the money to buy new seeds and grow food until the next July harvest, which provides approximately 60% of the national food consumption.
This is the case of Louis Marie Michelle (35 years old), mother of Joseph and Pierre, both 8 years old, who attend the Village of Hope School in the locality of Ganthier. Her husband has not been able to plant any food because of the drought. “We’re in emergency situation, my husband can’t grow any food in our home garden,” she said. “You know that these rations mean a lot to us, especially to the children,” she said.
Natacha Senat, 38 years old, came to pick up the ration received today by her two daughters. She is a teacher at another school, but she enrolled her daughters in the Village of Hope School because where she works no hot meals are served and no take home rations are distributed. “I want to thank WFP for the help given to this school because when you give food to the children you feed the whole family,” she said. She even asked that more rations were distributed to more families because there are more children who are hungry and need help.
In the meantime, WFP is having difficulties to provide these take home rations. According to the Government of Haiti’s statistics, there are some 400,000 people in urgent need of take home rations, but WFP only has half of the resources needed to prepare a full ration made up of rice, beans, sugar, salt and HEBs. The lack of funds has forced WFP and BND partner to reduce the rations.
WFP urgently needs approximately USD 17 million to cover immediate shortfalls for its operations in Haiti, otherwise it will run out of food stocks by July and stop distributions among Haitians still struggling to recover from last year’s weather shocks. The situation is critical especially at a time Haiti is preparing to the new Hurricane Season, which starts on June and ends in November 2013.