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FAO expressing concerns regarding food security in Haiti

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The As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor of the Food and Agri­cul­ture (FAO), Mario Lu­betkin, says al­though the most re­cent ev­i­dence shows signs of im­prove­ment in food in­se­cu­ri­ty in Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean, the da­ta re­veal a wor­ry­ing up­ward trend in Haiti and sec­tors of the sub­re­gion.

Lu­betkin, who is al­so the FAO Re­gion­al Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean, said the sit­u­a­tion in Haiti is par­tic­u­lar­ly alarm­ing with vi­o­lence, a pro­longed eco­nom­ic cri­sis, and ex­treme weath­er events have brought the coun­try to a crit­i­cal point with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for its pop­u­la­tion.

He said a fur­ther de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in acute food in­se­cu­ri­ty is pro­ject­ed be­tween June and Oc­to­ber 2024.

“Haiti is the on­ly coun­try in the re­gion that is con­sid­ered to be in a ma­jor pro­tract­ed food cri­sis, is one of nine coun­tries in the world at risk of famine and is among the five coun­tries with more than 10 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion in emer­gency.

“This trans­lates in­to 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple with food con­sump­tion short­falls, re­flect­ed in very high acute mal­nu­tri­tion and ex­cess mor­tal­i­ty that they can on­ly mit­i­gate through emer­gency liveli­hood strate­gies and liq­ui­da­tion of their as­sets. On the oth­er hand, al­most half of the pop­u­la­tion, about 5.5 mil­lion, could face high lev­els of acute food in­se­cu­ri­ty,” Lu­betkin added.

He said El Niño caused crop fail­ures in 2023, and this year, fore­casts warn of more in­tense hur­ri­canes due to La Niña, which could cause flood­ing and land­slides, caus­ing ad­di­tion­al dam­age to crops, liveli­hoods, and in­fra­struc­ture.

Lu­betkin said that the FAO com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing Haiti, is work­ing in­ten­sive­ly to mit­i­gate the im­pacts of the hu­man­i­tar­i­an cri­sis through emer­gency agri­cul­tur­al as­sis­tance, strength­en­ing liveli­hood re­silience and spe­cial­ized tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance while en­sur­ing the nexus be­tween hu­man­i­tar­i­an re­sponse, re­silience, and de­vel­op­ment.

FAO es­ti­mat­ed it would re­quire US$42.6 mil­lion to as­sist 528,000 peo­ple, but it has re­ceived on­ly six per cent of the fund­ing.

In 2023, FAO reached some 120,000 peo­ple across Haiti through emer­gency agri­cul­tur­al and live­stock in­ter­ven­tions to sup­port lo­cal food pro­duc­tion and sus­tain rur­al liveli­hoods. In 2024, FAO con­tin­ued to pro­vide emer­gency as­sis­tance in Haiti, fo­cus­ing on food se­cu­ri­ty and agri­cul­tur­al re­silience amid glob­al chal­lenges, as­sist­ing 44,000 ben­e­fi­cia­ries in var­i­ous coun­try de­part­ments.

Lu­betkin said in the face of in­creas­ing vi­o­lence and food crises, the FAO calls on donors and gov­ern­ments to in­crease their sup­port.

He said US$10 mil­lion dol­lars are need­ed to as­sist 80,000 peo­ple, en­sur­ing the pro­tec­tion of their liveli­hoods, cov­er­ing min­i­mum food needs, and im­prov­ing the avail­abil­i­ty and ac­cess to food for the most vul­ner­a­ble house­holds.

“FAO ap­pre­ci­ates the ef­forts of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to sta­bi­lize the coun­try through the ap­point­ment of Gar­ry Conille as in­ter­im Prime Min­is­ter. We are con­fi­dent that steps such as these will help Haiti em­bark on a nor­mal­iza­tion path, which could al­so im­prove food se­cu­ri­ty for all its in­hab­i­tants.”

Lu­betkin said that the food in­se­cu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in Haiti re­quires ur­gent and co­or­di­nat­ed ac­tion. “A rapid, ef­fec­tive re­sponse and the mo­bi­liza­tion of the nec­es­sary re­sources will mit­i­gate the im­pact of this cri­sis, sup­port the vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion, and help Haiti re­gain its path to food se­cu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty.

“Hu­man­i­tar­i­an aid must reach those who need it most. On­ly in this way can we en­sure a bet­ter life for all, leav­ing no one be­hind,” Lu­betkin said.

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jun 24, CMC

CMC/ag/ir/2024

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