Almost two years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, a high-profile advocate for the United Nations food relief agency has visited the Caribbean country to survey the agency’s efforts in fighting malnutrition among those made homeless by the disaster.
In his first trip to Haiti, Canadian journalist and World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger George Stroumboulopoulos saw the progress being made on the ground by the UN and other aid providers since the 12 January 2010 quake, the agency reported today.
His first stop was a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) known as Camp Sersal, which is home to an estimated 10,000 people living in tents or temporary shelters.
Mr. Stroumboulopoulos visited a large tent housing the camp’s medical services where children – ranging from the ages of six months to five years – are weighed and measured to determine whether they suffer from malnutrition. Pregnant and nursing women are also examined for any signs of malnourishment.
When the medical centre’s test results indicate moderate malnutrition in its patients, they are immediately enrolled in the WFP’s programme against hunger and moved to a smaller tent nearby to receive a special fortified food until they recover their full health.
“That ad hoc health centre has to serve a lot of people and right out of there, you address family nutrition needs and you have the feeding centre next to it,” said Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, as he observed the bustling clinic.
He then visited a public school where children were benefiting from a WFP feeding initiative. Every day, across Haiti, the UN agency and its partners provide full meals to roughly 1.1 million school children. In addition, the WFP has been helping the Haitian Government build a universal school meals programme by developing strong links between local farmers and schools.
“I like how the school feeding program is so tied to education so you feel you’re not just addressing an emergency situation,” noted Mr. Stroumboulopoulos.
“You’re not just feeding somebody because they’re hungry. Here, kids are coming, they’re learning, they’re reading, and they’re eating at the same time. Both are feeding into each other,” he added. “It’s cool to see all of that.”