Tag Archives: Haiti

Interview: Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme in Haiti

Haiti is one of the 45 nations needing emergency food assistance this year according to the US Famine Warning System. Natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, has worsened food shortages in the impoverished nation. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is Haiti’s lifeline for overcoming hunger.

WFP provides school meals to children to reduce hunger and improve class attendance.

School feeding in Haiti is one of the most important projects of the World Food Programme. (WFP/Lorene Didier)

One the major sources of funding for school feeding in Haiti is the McGovern-Dole program run by the United States Department of Agriculture. However,  McGovern-Dole is to be eliminated under a new budget proposal from the President of the United States. The United States Congress does have a chance to save McGovern-Dole funding for Haiti and other impoverished nations.

Let’s learn more about school feeding in Haiti and the impact of McGovern-Dole funding in this interview with Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme.

For the current school year you are reaching 400,000 students with school meals, almost half of which is provided by McGovern-Dole funding?

Correct. We are distributing 400,000 hot meals every day to school children, among which 175,000 are funded directly by McGovern Dole.

Is there enough funding for the school meals starting next school year?

Without further funding, WFP will have no other choice than to reduce the number of school children reached in the 2017/18 school year by 15%, which means WFP will no longer be able to provide daily meals to 60,000 school children in Haiti next school year.

Is food from local Haiti farms being provided with any of these meals? 

We are procuring local commodities such as rice, salt and maize meal. In 2016, WFP was able to purchase 1,753 tons of locally grown rice. WFP is also distributing meals to 7,000 children in the department of Nippes prepared with 100% of locally grown food, including fresh vegetables. This provides local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity. The children enjoy healthy, diversified meals; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better and improve their adult job prospects. Next year, WFP will increase the number of school children receiving 100% local school meals from 7,000 to 15,000.

Is summer feeding going to be provided so the students don’t lose the meal when school closes?

WFP will not be able to implement summer feeding as we have to prioritize the limited funding available to provide meals to children at school during the school year.

What has the impact of school meals been in areas where the hurricane struck? Have the meals reduced malnutrition and improved attendance?

WFP is currently distributing school meals to 27,000 children in Grande Anse, the most affected department by Hurricane Matthew. In Grande Anse many families of farmers lost all their crops and food stocks after the hurricane and many of them will not be able to provide sufficient food for their families until at least the next harvest in June 2017. It is therefore crucial for children to be able to have access to at least one nutritious meal a day at school to help ensure they are not too hungry or malnourished.

In addition to school meals, WFP is also distributing specialized food to 27,000 children and 25,000 pregnant and nursing women in order to prevent malnutrition in the most hurricane affected areas. This is complemented by a family ration benefiting around 126,000 persons.

Originally published at Blogcritics Magazine:

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Marines, WFP Fight Hunger in Haiti

Devastation. That describes Haiti following Hurricane Matthew’s trail of destruction last week. Hundreds of people were killed by the storm and thousands were displaced. Many have lost their homes.

The aftermath of the storm brings new threats, including a food crisis. That is why the U.S. Marines are teaming with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to bring emergency relief.

See my full commentary at the  Huffington Post

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How We Can Help Haiti’s Children During Drought Emergency

The news coming from Haiti is very alarming. The El Niño weather phenomenon has struck again, this time leading to a severe drought.

It’s been so bad for farmers that many have lost more than 82 percent of production. That is leaving Haitian families with low food supply. Any food that is available at markets is high priced.

See my full commentary at The Huffington Post.

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New food project keeps things local in Haiti

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is starting a special two-year project aimed at helping Haiti build its agriculture. It was scheduled to start in May in the Nippes region.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Canada’s donation pivotal for Haiti

Haiti has made a national school lunch program a top priority for fighting hunger. Canada is helping along the way.

Read the article at Examiner.

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Haiti losing key funding for school meals

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it’s losing funding for its school meals program in Haiti. WFP is the leading organization fighting hunger in Haiti and almost 70 other countries.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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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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Senator Brown Urges School Meals at Home and Abroad

Senator Sherrod Brown recently visited Haiti and saw what a difference school feeding makes for children. The school meals are funded by the U.S. McGovern-Dole program. (World Food Programme photo)

Senator Sherrod Brown recently visited Haiti and saw what a difference school feeding makes for children. The school meals are funded by the U.S. McGovern-Dole program. (World Food Programme photo)

United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D, OH) has been a long-time advocate for the school lunch program in Ohio and across the country. He is currently trying to expand summer feeding to reach more children in need.

Brown is also advocating for school meals abroad as an important piece of U.S. foreign policy. The News Record reported on Brown’s recent visit to Haiti. There the Senator saw the impact of school meals, funded by the US McGovern-Dole program, on Haitian children.

Named after former Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole, this program funds school meals in developing countries. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) received the McGovern-Dole grant for Haiti and distributes the food. Elizabeth Jennings of WFP says the McGovern-Dole funding “has been vital” in supporting school feeding in Haiti.

WFP relies on voluntary funding for its hunger relief programs in Haiti and other countries. These programs often face low funding levels. The McGovern-Dole grant has allowed WFP to feed about 300,000 Haitian children.

For many children in developing countries, school feeding might be the only meal they receive the entire day. McGovern-Dole funding allows millions of children in Haiti, Afghanistan, Mali and other countries to get food for education.

Although McGovern-Dole and other international food aid is less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget, it is often targeted for cuts by some members of Congress. Bread for the World says that the sequester will mean “234,000 children will experience reductions from or be denied access to school feeding programs administered through the McGovern-Dole program.”

Senator Brown is urging that the U.S. continue to fund McGovern-Dole and other food aid programs.

Article first published as Senator Brown Urges School Meals at Home and Abroad on Blogcritics.

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Haiti: Drought, Low Funding Threaten School Meals Program

Children in class after eating their school meal at École Nationale République de la Colombie in Port-au-Prince.
Photo credit: WFP/Stephanie Tremblay

It’s been over two years since the earthquake struck Haiti. Now, with a massive hunger crisis unfolding on multiple fronts in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the spotlight has shifted away from this country with tremendous reconstruction needs.

Developing a national school feeding program is a top priority, but the danger is funding may drop off, thus breaking the momentum toward achieving this goal. A grant from the U.S. McGovern-Dole school meals program has been significant in helping Haiti. But additional funding is needed to ensure every child in Haiti receives school meals and an education.

With drought conditions hitting parts of Haiti, school feeding takes on more urgency. Families who struggle to access or afford food need the safety net of school feeding.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is helping Haiti provide school meals. Elizabeth Jennings, a public information officer for Haiti, provides us an update in the following interview.

How many children are currently receiving the school meals from WFP?

1.1 million primary age school children.

Are areas harmed by drought included in WFP’s school feeding?

WFP’s school feeding programme in Haiti is currently countrywide, supporting over 3000 schools. So, yes, we reach areas that have been and may potentially be again harmed by drought (where you often see chronic food insecurity), as well as areas that were directly and indirectly affected by the earthquake and areas that have been affected by flooding, among others. We are also in the process of re-targeting all of our activities after the emergency response, including school feeding, and are focusing on the most food-insecure areas in the country, which would also correspond to areas that are vulnerable to droughts, such as the Nord-Ouest.

How has funding from the McGovern-Dole school meals program helped WFP and Haiti?

The 3-year grant of $24 million dollars from McGovern-Dole has been vital to the program. The donation is made in in-kind commodities of WFP’s standard school meal ration (rice, beans, oil, salt), and has provided reliable, consistent support, starting in 2011 (the first year we received the commodities), and will provide commodities through the 2013-2014 school year (the last year of this grant).

We just received the second tranche of commodities which are currently the only resources we have to begin the program at the start of the 2012-2013 school year in September 2012, under the School Feeding Development Project.

There is also a small annual allocation, as part of the grant, for capacity building to the government of Haiti’s national school meals program, which is a critical priority for our work in Haiti. It is also one of WFP’s global strategic objectives. Monitoring & Evaluation, which will be a crucial part of the development of a nationally owned and managed school feeding program, also falls under this objective, alongside building local procurement capacity, with school feeding as a platform to improve local production and increase food security.

What are the biggest challenges currently facing WFP in providing school meals and helping Haiti build a national meals program? Is funding an issue?

Yes, funding is an issue. As is developing consistent, long-term funding so that the national program is able to maintain momentum for growth.

Fragile national capacity and weak implementation capacity is also, as you suspect, an issue. There is a vision for a universal, free school meals program by 2030. Attaining that goal means significant efforts in developing a strong legal and policy framework, strong leadership within the PNCS, support from the Ministry of Education, wherein PNCS resides, and a consistent source of funding for the program that supports the achievement of longer-term goals. WFP provides both technical and implementation support for the school feeding program, as well as prioritizing growing its local procurement activities in the country, linked closely with the school feeding program (as mentioned in point 3).

There are also other school feeding partners and donors in Haiti and though WFP has the largest program, these other parallel school feeding programs (and pipelines) can occasionally make coordination among actors somewhat tenuous, though not impossible.

Are children to receive summer feeding when schools are closed?

WFP is unfortunately not able to provide food for summer camps (camps d’été) this year due to limited funding and resources, though traditionally we have incorporated summer camps into our overall school feeding program.

For more information about Haiti visit the World Food Programme.

Article first published as Haiti: Drought, Low Funding Threaten School Meals Program on Blogcritics.

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On Digital Learning Day, think FreeRice

FreeRice has two goals: Provide education to everyone for free. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This Wednesday, February 1, is the first ever National Digital Learning Day. It’s a chance to showcase the innovation taking place in classrooms through internet technology and digital media.

One online tool helps students learn and also feeds the hungry worldwide. It is called FreeRice and it’s an online trivia game in which you answer questions on vocabulary, math, chemistry, foreign languages, and even art.

While a student is playing and learning about these subjects, something else magical is happening. For every correct answer, 10 grains of rice, paid for by advertisers, are donated to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the largest agency fighting hunger. The donations are used in WFP operations fighting hunger and malnutrition.

Last year, for instance, students who played this game helped support school feeding programs in Haiti and Cambodia. The more students play the game, the more support for hunger relief.

Innovative online learning can play a role in tackling the most massive crisis facing man. There are nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger. A severe drought struck East Africa last year causing food shortages and wide-scale displacement as people desperately searched for help. This crisis is far from over.

Another one is fast emerging in West Africa, in the Sahel region, where the countries of Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Mali are being devastated by drought which has ruined food supplies. Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, and so many other countries are suffering deeply from hunger and malnutrition.

The World Food Programme relies on voluntary donations to help these countries fight hunger. This agency is so low on funding that many of their relief operations face suspensions or reduced rations. Right now, children in Mauritania are about to lose their school meal of rice at a time when they need it more than ever. The same holds true in the Ivory Coast, where rice and other supplies are running out for children in a country recovering from an internal conflict last year.

FreeRice is a digital tool that can help these hungry children while helping other children learn. The game’s mission statement is to “Provide education to everyone for free” and “Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.” The game is even great for adults who want to test their knowledge on these subjects.

So on this Digital Learning Day I hope many students and teachers will join the already one million players of FreeRice. You can form teams on FreeRice too, so perhaps schools can develop tournaments between classes and even other schools just as they do with football, basketball, debating, and other activities. The sky is the limit for this online learning tool and what it can accomplish.

You can start playing at Freerice.com.

Article first published as On Digital Learning Day, Think FreeRice on Blogcritics.

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