According to a news release written by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), food security is still a top priority in Haiti two years after the famous and devastating earthquake that absolutely demolished the island country’s infrastructure, displaced millions and introduced cholera outbreaks. The WFP currently provides food and medical supplies to at least 1.5 million people.
About 1.1 million children are receiving daily nutritious meals under Haiti’s National School Meals Programme, in more than 3,000 schools across the country, while about 240,000 children under age five and pregnant and breast-feeding mothers receive specialized products to boost their nutrition.
“WFP’s school meals programme is providing a foundation for Haiti’s future by helping schoolchildren learn better and grow up healthy”, said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Representative in Haiti. “Mothers and young children are our top priority, and nutrition is the key to a better life for the next generation.”
Immediately after the 2010 earthquake, the World Food Programme provided emergency food assistance to some four million Haitians. After the initial emergency response, which helped prevent a food crisis, the Government of Haiti asked WFP to work on a range of programmes to support recovery efforts and improve food security in the country.
Support to local agriculture has been one of the lynch-pins of the recovery programme, connecting the school meals programme to local producers of milk, maize and rice. “By creating strong links between local agriculture and the school meals programme, entire families and communities benefit”, said Kaulard.
Last year, 57,000 Haitians living with HIV/TB and their families also received food assistance to help them to adhere to medical treatment and help households cope with the loss of revenues of people affected by the illnesses.
After the earthquake, WFP’s temporary employment projects have created over 200,000 jobs for heads of households, improving food security for one million people and contributing to earthquake recovery. Workers were paid in cash, food or a combination of both. An evaluation of the programme demonstrated that the cash portion of salaries was mostly used to purchase food and stimulated local economies. Most of the projects have been suspended and WFP is actively looking for new sources of funding to restart this programme.
“As we pay homage to the victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake and their families, we are reminded everyday that our work is far from over. We must maintain the capacity to work with the Government and our partners to continue improving food security in Haiti,” said Kaulard. “WFP is grateful for the generosity of its donors and is counting on their on-going support to help Haitians to continue rebuilding their lives.”
(Cover Photo: AP)