With ‘hunger season’ approaching in Haiti, UN urges aid and better farming

30 July 2004

Upcoming harvests in Haiti are expected to fail, prompting experts to call for food aid as well as new farming techniques and crop diversity in the drought-stricken northwestern part of the country, the United Nations said today.

Reporting the results of a three-day inter-agency assessment mission to the Caribbean nation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said “short-term food assistance in some areas will be needed to help the most vulnerable households through the ‘hungry season,’ October through February, prior to the March harvest.”

Given what seems to be a new weather pattern bringing less rain, the team recommended teaching new farming techniques, planting crops that have short-cycle germination and drought-resistant seeds, as well as improving watershed management.

OCHA predicted that improvements in Haiti’s humanitarian situation would depend heavily on the success of programmes to introduce good governance and public security to rural areas which are still not fully under government control.

From 13 to 15 July, the team visited health centres and markets in Jean Rabel, Môle St . Nicolas, Bombardopolis and Baie de Henne and the surrounding countryside. Team members spoke with locals, missionaries, Cuban doctors and the international non-governmental organization (NGO) working there.

The mission was dispatched after the NGO predicted the prospective harvest failures and warned that the cumulative impact of one poor harvest after another in recent years had made the population vulnerable to any further natural calamities.

“From the political upheaval of the last quarter of 2003, culminating in the departure of President [Jean-Bertrand] Aristide at the end of February 2004, to the devastating floods in the southeast in May 2004 (which left some1,200 dead and over 1,400 reported missing and presumed dead), Haiti has witnessed a series of events in the last nine months which are having a continued negative impact on the population,” OCHA added.


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