Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger

Tropical storm Emily just passed through Haiti, fortunately never developing into a hurricane. But it should serve as a reminder that Haiti is still very vulnerable to the shock of these storms. It’s important to build up Haiti’s resiliency so it can better withstand the risk of flooding that comes with these heavy rains.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), as it seeks to help Haiti boost its food production, sponsors projects aimed at preventing damage to agriculture from flooding.

In addition, other WFP Food/Cash for Work projects are aimed at rubble removal, still very much a task even more than a year after the earthquake. There is still a long way to go in Haiti’s reconstruction. That is why the World Food Programme is urging support for its programs in Haiti. Malnutrition and poverty are still massive challenges for Haitians to overcome

WFP’s Stephanie Tremblay reports that the agency is facing a funding shortage for its programs. Without this funding, programs to protect the poor and boost agriculture and other projects will be at risk. WFP’s biggest project, school feeding, will be in jeopardy without funding.

Tremblay says, “We need an additional $14 million to purchase food – that will cover the needs of our school meals and nutrition programs – It also includes a take-home ration that we give students at the beginning of the school year to help families cope with back-to-school costs.”

WFP currently is reaching 1.1 million students with school meals as it helps the government build a national program. There is a long way to go to provide school meals for all children in Haiti.

Currently, there are many children in Haiti not yet enrolled in school. A national school lunch program needs to be developed to reach all these children. The food is what encourages parents to send their children to school.

Principal Sister Bernadette says Haitian children would “simply be too weak to study if they weren’t able to eat something at school. It’s important for them to have a meal here, most of them come from very poor families.” Marie Anika, 8, speaks for all children worldwide when she says, “It would be terrible if we didn’t get a meal at school. I really wouldn’t like that.”

WFP also needs $27 million to keep its cash/food for work projects, which are critical to the reconstruction, moving in the right direction.

The media spotlight may have moved on from Haiti, but the tremendous need is still very much present.

Article first published as Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger on Blogcritics.

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