Hundreds of thousands of Haitians who survived Hurricane Matthew, which ripped through their country three months ago, will go hungry if governments, donors and aid agencies do not step up efforts to help them, warned Oxfam today. A $139m UN fund set up to respond the most urgent post-Hurricane Matthew needs is 38 percent underfunded.
People in the South and Grande Anse departments on the southern peninsula of Haiti are particularly at risk. A very poor harvest is expected in January and February as Matthew wiped out 80 per cent of crops, drowned most livestock, destroyed critical infrastructure and decimated the country’s bread-basket. In the most affected areas, 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence farming to feed their families and make a living.
Before the hurricane struck, rural populations were already struggling to cope with a severe drought that had devastated crops. The hurricane also hit at the worst possible time as farmers were getting ready to harvest the little they had managed to produce.
Damien Berrendorf, country director of Oxfam in Haiti, said: “Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in a matter of hours but has created a long-term catastrophe that will take the country years to recover from. The Haitian government, donors and aid agencies need to act – jointly, coherently and urgently – to prioritize food security and nutrition in the next three to six months to stop people dying from hunger.”
Official figures from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show that 806,000 people are at an extreme level of food insecurity, and that an estimated 750,000 people do not have safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing.