More than a Third of Haitians Face Severe Food Insecurity: UN
Tue, April 20, 2021

More than a Third of Haitians Face Severe Food Insecurity: UN

The Haitians’ urgent need for food aid was sparked by the decrease of agricultural production, social unrest, and price hikes in the country / Photo by: Joshua Adam Nuzzo via Wikimedia Commons

 

More than one in three people in Haiti now face severe food insecurity, warned the United Nations’ World Food Program. The Haitians’ urgent need for food aid was sparked by the decrease of agricultural production, social unrest, and price hikes in the country.

Famine-Like Conditions in Haiti

The food-assistance branch of the UN World Food Programme reports that Haiti is now facing famine-like conditions and that the food insecurity in the country’s rural areas has already increased by 15% since December. Out of the 11 million inhabitants in Haiti, nearly 3.7 million of them are facing “severe food insecurity,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel shared with the journalists in Geneva, Switzerland. 

More than one million Haitians are likewise facing a “food emergency,” which means that they are only a step away from famine and that families are facing extreme difficulty meeting their daily food needs.

The food-assistance branch of the UN World Food Programme reports that Haiti is now facing famine-like conditions and that the food insecurity in the country’s rural areas has already increased by 15% since December / Photo by: Adrian White via Wikimedia Commons

 

Protests That Paralyzed the Carribean Nation

According to a report published by Yahoo News, widespread protests have paralyzed Haiti. Tens of thousands of people participated in the demonstrations as they were fed up with corruption, scarcity, and poverty. The protests started after fuel prices increased in the country. Citizens also experienced spiraling inflation, environmental degradation, lack of safe drinking water, and food scarcity, causing them to block the highways and roads, attack property, and set fires. 

The violent protests have led public offices, businesses, and schools to close. The protesters are calling for the resignation of their President Jovenel Moise. “The country is out of control,” Haitian economist Etzer Emile said in an interview with Reuters.

UN figures show that there were already 42 people who died in Haiti and dozens were injured as a result of the anti-government protests that started in mid-September. The WFP spokesman added that because of the situation in the Carribean nation, efforts to reach those in need of help have been hampered. For example, the WFP has initiated the school feeding program in the country but the project has been badly affected. Most of the food deliveries were postponed. Their food distributions to Haiti via cash-based transfers were also put back.

Verhoosel added that “without immediate assistance, the situation is expected to deteriorate further.” He warned that the number of people needing food assistance in Haiti may reach over 4 million in 2020.

According to a report published by Yahoo News, widespread protests have paralyzed Haiti. Tens of thousands of people participated in the demonstrations as they were fed up with corruption, scarcity, and poverty / Photo by: US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

 

Food Insecurity Phase

Food insecurity has been defined as the disruption of eating patterns or food intake because of a lack of resources and money. There are five distinct phases of food insecurity based on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. These include (1) Minimal/None, (2) Stressed, (3) Crisis, (4) Emergency, and (5) Famine/Catastrophe. Each phase has distinct and important implications for intervention and provides relevant data for decision-makers to decrease or mitigate severe food insecurity.

The vulnerable neighborhoods of Cité Soleil in Haiti and the Nord-Ouest department are two zones declared in IPC Phase 4. It is further estimated that more than 1 million people in Haiti are now in the same IPC phase. Based on the latest IPC analysis, there are more than 850,000 people in the metropolitan area that are also food insecure. 

Overall, 33.8% (3,537,000) of the total population are in minimal IPC phase, 31.0% (3,240,000) are in stressed IPC Phase, 25.1% (2,627,000) are in food crisis, and 10.% (1,046,000) in a food emergency phase.

The IPC analysis was conducted with the help of the National Coordination of Food Security (CNSA) and with the participation of 19 international and national partners. The analysis was a combination of international standards, including livelihood changes, food consumption levels, mortality, and nutritional status. Some contributing factors considered are food access, availability, hazards, vulnerability, utilization, and stability.

Prevalence of Undernourishment

The Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger has shared the prevalence of undernourishment in Haiti in a 3-year average. From 2010-2012, the prevalence of undernourishment was at 49.5%, which slightly increased in 2012-2014 at 49.6%. In 2014-2016, it reached 48.9%, then from 2015-2017, 49%. Its most recent data was from 2016-2018 at 49.3%.

The World Bank also states that more than 6 million people in Haiti are now living below the poverty line on less than $2.41 per day, based on the US dollar. More than 2.5 million Haitians fall below the extreme poverty line and they are the people who only live on $1.23 per day. 

Haiti is one of the few countries that still struggle with development. Some humanitarian organizations are already starting an appeal to help meet their needs so that Haiti’s access to food, particularly those in the most affected areas, is ensured. The CNSA has recommended, for instance, prioritizing buying local products to avoid aggravating the economic crisis. This must likewise be accompanied by the development and reconstruction of livelihood in the country and creating an early warning system for nutritional and food security so Haiti can predict future crises.