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Hunger in Haiti: 3 Achievements, 3 Challenges

United Nations member states and international partners have just pledged $5.3 billion for the next 18 months to begin Haiti’s path to long-term recovery from the January 12 earthquake. In the wake of the March 31 donors' meeting at UN headquarters in New York, here is a look back at what WFP has achieved so far and a look forward at the challenges in the immediate future.

ACHIEVEMENTS

One – Food delivered to hungry
Since 12 January, WFP has reached a total of 3.5 million people with food aid. Despite massive logistical and organizational challenges, we reached three million people within six weeks (photo gallery).  After the initial phase of emergency food distributions, WFP shifted to more targeted action through school meals programmes, nutritional support and complete food baskets to the most vulnerable.
Two – Coordination and stabilization
WFP coordinated with national government, mayors’ offices, community leaders, NGOs, aid groups and military contingents to organize early food distributions. The system set up became the model for subsequent targeted distributions. Haitians saw that the international community could accomplish peaceful, organized distributions and this helped calm a badly shaken populace, thereby avoiding civil chaos.
Three – Leadership in logistics and telecoms

WFP led logistics operations that rebuilt the port and other infrastructure needed to bring in and move tens of thousands of tons of food and critical relief supplies. WFP also provided the telecoms services that were essential in the early days of the emergency. Through UNHAS – the UN Humanitarian Air Service – WFP transported aid workers throughout the country, quickly.

CHALLENGES

One – Prepare for rainy season
Preparations must be made for Haiti’s rainy season, which could bring devastating tropical storms and hurricanes. We must be sure that the hundreds of thousands now living in tents get the food they need. As the lead agency for logistics, WFP will deliver plastic sheeting, tents and other non-food items. It will also ensure that food and trucks are pre-positioned in Haiti and at regional emergency centres in Panama, El Salvador and Ecuador.
Two – Assist host families
Along with the displaced population, many families have taken friends and relatives into their homes, especially those living outside Port-au-Prince, in rural areas. These families need support because their resources have been strained to the limit. We must ensure food assistance reaches even the remote mountainous areas consistently. Video To do this we need more rough terrain trucks.
Three – Involve Haitians in rebuild
Haitians must be given the chance to take part in rebuilding their country and its food production capacity. Together with the government, WFP has designed Food For Work/Cash For Work programmes that in April will start putting 70,000 people to work on recovery projects. As they work, they will receive cash and food assistance. WFP is also using its logistical capability to boost the agriculture sector, helping the UN Food and Agricultural Organization bring in seeds and tools. Read news release

Donor generosity

Donors have already been very generous in their response to the Haiti disaster. WFP now faces the task of maintaining donor support during the next phase of the relief operation. Among WFP’s immediate needs are:

  • US$11.6 million to purchase 60 rough terrain trucks that will begin replacing WFP’s current fleet of 40-year-old vehicles.
  • US$8 million for warehousing that includes pre-positioning relief supplies in advance of the rainy season.
  • US$100 million to fund cash and food for work projects starting in April.

To date, food assistance to earthquake-affected populations has 44% funding – a shortfall of $265 million.