Haiti Faces a Summer of Hunger

A series of disasters, coupled with low funding for aid agencies, places millions of Haitians at risk of severe hunger. (WFP/Stephanie Tremblay)

A series of disasters, coupled with low funding for aid agencies, places millions of Haitians at risk of severe hunger.
(WFP/Stephanie Tremblay)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed today it will not be able to provide summer school feeding for children in Haiti.

The UN food agency, which depends on voluntary donations, is already short on resources for many of its programs to help Haiti recover from a series of disasters.

In addition, a WFP take-home ration plan for 200,000 school children lacks funding to get started. This food aid is essential for families suffering from severe hunger and it allows their children to stay in school.

There are 6.7 million people, over half the population, that suffer from hunger in Haiti. Alejandro Chicheri of WFP says that of this number, around 1.5 million Haitians face severe hunger. Drought and a series of storms severely damaged agriculture, placing already impoverished families under additional stress.

A report from the Famine Early Warning System stated, “despite the evident readiness of local farmers, poor seed availability is threatening the success of this year’s crops…. Poor households in many rural areas could still be facing a food shortage directly after the July harvest.”

The charity Live Beyond provides food, water and medicine in Haiti and says it is “providing bags of rice and beans” at its medical clinics, “to ensure that the sickest of the sick are able to continue living through this period of starvation.”

At a fundraising event, actress and activist Kimberly Williams-Paisley recently said, “The phrase you hear most often in the LiveBeyond Mobile clinics is ‘Mwen grangou’ or I am hungry.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is threatening to reduce funding for the Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole programs, both which help Haiti. President Obama is urging Congress not to cut these aid programs, which already are a relatively tiny part of the federal budget.

The World Food Programme continues to work with the Haitian government to build a national school lunch program. WFP provides meals during the school year to hundreds of thousands of children. The goal is for Haiti to run this program entirely using locally produced food.

These goals though cannot be obtained unless Haiti has the food supply to endure the reconstruction.

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