Drought in the Northeast Exacerbates Food Insecurity

  • Posted on: 20 March 2014
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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The Haitian Government and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS-NET) report that a drought is causing food insecurity in northeast Haiti due to the loss of crops and livestock.  The National Coordination of Food Security Office and the World Food Program (WFP) are planning a response which will involve seed distribution to farmers and food distribution more broadly.  Below is a Miami Herald article with more information.   



PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A drought is causing an extreme emergency in northeast Haiti, wiping out sorely needed crops and livestock, an official said Tuesday.  Pierre Gary Mathieu of the government's National Coordination of Food Security told The Associated Press that the eight-month-long drought in the region has caused the loss of two harvest seasons. It will take the area six months to recover. "That's a major problem," Mathieu said. The hardship is especially evident in some schools where there's food for students but no water to cook. Other schools have neither food nor water, Mathieu said. The usually arid area has seen some rain lately but not enough to replenish crops.


Government employees and aid workers plan to distribute seeds to farmers and food to others. Officials are due to meet this Thursday with international humanitarian workers to figure out how to coordinate a response, Mathieu said.  The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, a U.S.-government financed program that tracks weather patterns, agricultural production and food prices in an effort to offset famine, describes worrisome conditions for Haiti's northeast.  Until last November, rainfall was evenly distributed in most of the country's crop-producing areas during production cycles. But a second rainy season that normally begins in August didn't begin until two to three weeks later, and northeastern Haiti received very little of that rainfall.  "People need jobs immediately but they also need food," Mathieu said.


The drought has also extended to other parts of the north, especially along the northwestern peninsula, FEWS NET reports. Farmers have had to travel farther to find drinking water.  The United Nations' World Food Program will send food rations this week for up to 120,000 people in the northwest, WFP spokesman Alejandro Lopez-Chicheri said. The kits consist of rice, beans and cooking oil.



Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Aid workers in Haiti have begun distributing food to help some of the Caribbean nation's poorest people cope with a severe drought, an official with a United Nations agency said Thursday. The World Food Program on Wednesday began handing out cereal, vegetable oil and iodized salt to 10,000 people in towns in the northwestern peninsula of Haiti, WFP program chief Antoine Renard said. Aid workers hope to reach 164,000 people with food by the end of the month, when the rainy season is due to begin. The goal is to hand out enough food to last at least a month so that farmers won't be forced to eat their seeds, which would sabotage their ability to grow crops.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a U.S.-government financed program that tracks weather patterns, agricultural production and food prices in an effort to offset famine, describes worrisome conditions for Haiti's northwest. Rains ended earlier than usual in October in the northwest and elsewhere along the northern coast, leading to the loss of sorghum, bean and corn crops. The scarcity of water and an earlier and longer lean season will put families in a crisis category through June, the network reported. That category means that at least one in five households faces a food shortage, along with high or unusually acute malnutrition. People will need to sell off possessions to get by. Haiti and its 10 million people are especially vulnerable to the whims of weather. A severe drought in 2012, also in the northwest, and the outer bands of Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy wiped out crops, causing many in Haiti to go hungry.

The World Food Program sounded an alarm Friday over arid conditions in northwest Haiti that have worsened an already dire food shortage in this impoverished country. "The situation is worrying," said Peter de Clercq, an official at the United Nations, which runs the international food aid agency. The Caribbean country "desperately needs food and nutritional assistance," said de Clercq, deputy special representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The UN official, who just completed an overflight of the drought-stricken region via helicopter, said the WFP already has provided food aid to tens of thousands of inhabitants of northwestern Haiti. Government statistics here showed that about 43 percent of households in Haiti's northwest suffer from food insecurity, compared to a national average of about 30 percent.
Officials at Haiti's National Council for Food Security said on Friday that recurring drought has worsened "chronic food insecurity" in the region, which has had "below average rainfall at least one year out of three" in recent years. Various UN agencies on Thursday distributed more than 1.5 tonnes of food supplies to some 164,000 people in northwest Haiti and neighboring areas. Officials said the food shortage and drought, while particularly acute in Haiti's northwest, are being felt in other parts of the country as well. "There are other regions of Haiti that are in the same situation," said de Clercq, who said there are hundreds of thousands of people still in need of food aid. "Urgent assistance is needed, but it needs to be long term aid," the UN official said.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The American government has awarded $4 million to help Haitian families hurt by a drought in the Caribbean nation's northwest. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said Thursday that the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded the money to CARE International. About 60,000 people living in the remote village of Jean-Rabel who are malnourished or at the risk of severe hunger will receive food vouchers for 10 months under the emergency assistance. Some of the money will be used to develop savings and loans programs. Haiti's northwestern corner has long been prone to dry weather conditions but a drought since October has been particularly acute. Subsistence farmers have lost two harvest seasons, seen food prices climb and have struggled to feed their families.

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