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As the only low-income country in the Americas, the Republic of Haiti in the Caribbean – ranking 163 out of 188 in the 2017 Human Development Index – continues to face significant humanitarian, political and development challenges. Three-quarters of Haitians live on less than US$2 per day, and half of the population earns less than US$1 per day. Many people don’t have ready access to electricity, water, sanitation or healthcare.
Haiti has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world: more than half of its total population is chronically undernourished and 22 percent of children are chronically malnourished. Poor nutritional status among children is another reflection of the severity of food insecurity: 10 percent of children in the country are underweight and 66 percent of under-5s suffer from anemia.
Agriculture provides 50 percent of jobs in the country. Farms are small – averaging less than 1 hectare each – and under pressure from an increasing population. Low agricultural productivity and land tenure insecurity are significant problems for most of the one-million strong smallholder farmer sector.
Haiti currently does not produce enough food for internal consumption. More than 50 percent of the country's needs and close to 80 percent of its main staple, rice, are imported. This makes the country vulnerable to inflation and price volatility in international markets. In 2017, domestic food availability was estimated at 550,000 tons, about 3.5 percent less than in 2016 and almost 6 percent below the annual average.
All these issues have been exacerbated by a series of natural disasters over the past two decades, including severe storms, flooding, landslides, drought, the devastating earthquake that rocked the country in 2010 and category 4 Hurricane Matthew, which left 806,000 people in need of urgent food assistance in 2016.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working in Haiti since 1969. Its activities currently focus on emergency preparedness and response alongside longer-term support for the Government with the aim to achieve sustainable safety nets and an end to chronic malnutrition
What the World Food Programme is doing in Haiti
Emergency preparednessTo help mitigate the impact of future disasters, WFP works to ensure that stocks of emergency food (such as high-energy biscuits, rice and beans) are on standby in the right locations before the start of the hurricane season, which runs from June to November each year.. This enables a quicker response when disaster strikes.
School feedingWFP delivers hot meals to 365,000 Haitian school children each day, across more than 1,400 mainly public schools throughout the country. This programme provides the country’s biggest food safety net. In addition, a school meals programme in the Nippes department uses locally produced food bought directly from smallholder farmers, improving children’s nutrition and stimulating the local economy. WFP aims to expand this pilot to reach 30,000 children.
Food and Cash Assistance for AssetsWFP aims to support 30,000 people through a Food Assistance for Assets programme that builds community resilience while meeting immediate food needs. Participants receive cash transfers in return for helping with projects such as building infrastructure, protecting watersheds and strengthening the skills of rural farmers. Since 2017, 90 km of feeder roads have been rehabilitated or maintained, 61,600 trees have been planted, and 1,700 ha of land has been cleared.
NutritionTo prevent an increase in acute malnutrition, WFP is providing supplementary food assistance to 41,000 children under 5, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. WFP also distributes cash to nutritionally vulnerable households in highly food insecure areas, thus increasing resources available for food security. This assistance is paired with behavioral change activities aimed at improving dietary diversity and consumption of more nutrient-rich foods and promoting allocation of food within families to benefit pregnant and nursing women as well as children.
Capacity buildingNational capacity strengthening is at the core of WFP programmes in Haiti. WFP’s close collaboration with the Ministry of Education to create a nationally-owned school feeding programme by 2030 saw an important first step in 2016 with the signature of the first National School Feeding Policy, drafted under WFP leadership. WFP is also supporting the Government in strengthening its tools and systems to identify food insecure people and in setting up a national database of vulnerable households.
World Food Programme partners in HaitiWFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Haiti:
- National School Meals Programme (PNCS)