Rome. - Some 1,4 million Haitians require food assistance in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which wrought widespread devastation on supplies and crops across large swaths of the island nation. More than half, 800,000 people, are in dire need of immediate food aid, according to an emergency field assessment. Conducted by the Government of Haiti, the National Coordination for Food Security (CNSA), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the week after the hurricane, the assessment confirms the pressing need to provide immediate food assistance and help people to start rebuilding their livelihoods.
In the Department of Grande-Anse, agriculture has been virtually wiped out, warehouses have suffered serious damage, and the availability of local produce is now reduced to fruit fallen from trees. Around 50 percent of livestock were lost in some areas of the department.
On Haiti's southern coast, fishing activities are paralyzed due to nets, traps, boats and engines being washed away by flooding. As a result, income that families might use to buy food is nearly nonexistent. Meanwhile, losses of subsistence crops in the Department of Sud have been near total. Almost 90 percent of the department's forest and fruit trees were severely damaged; the remaining 10 percent are not likely to be productive this season.
"Local products on the markets will soon be depleted and we need more funding in order to continue food distributions to help 800,000 people in need of food aid which is more than urgent," said Miguel Barreto, WFP's Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The winter season crop is fast approaching. Agricultural producers have lost everything. If we don't act now to provide them with seed, fertilizer and other materials they need, they will not be able to plant and will be faced with persisting food insecurity," said Nathanaël Hishamunda, FAO's Representative in Haiti. He stressed the Organization's commitment to working together with the Ministry of Agriculture to implement its emergency response plan, focused on helping people resume agricultural activities and improving food security in rural areas.
The humanitarian community in Haiti urgently needs $56 million to meet the food assistance needs of people affected by Hurricane Matthew over the next three months.