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Haiti: Hurricane Matthew
FAO is scaling up its emergency response to support Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew
2.1 million people affected, of which 1.4 million in need of assistance, are the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the strongest in the Atlantic since Hurricane Georges in 1997.
On 3 October 2016, Category 4 Hurricane Matthew cut a path of destruction across Haiti, carrying devastating winds, heavy rainfall and widespread damage in the southwest of the country: the most affected departments are Grande-Anse, Sud, Sud-Est and Nippes. The death toll in Haiti is rising to at least 473 and cholera is spreading.
A Flash Appeal was launched on 10 October to provide immediate support to 750 000 affected people for the next three months. Under this framework, FAO requires USD 9 million to provide immediate crop, livestock and fisheries support to 300 000 hurricane-affected people. The medium- to long-term recovery costs are greater, however estimates are yet to be made available.
FAO was in Haiti from the very beginning, ready to support the Government to conduct rapid assessments and address food security and agricultural needs of the affected population. Our subregional office in Panama has been mobilized and is attending regional UN meetings; the country office in Haiti is actively involved in UNCT meetings and procedures for national preparedness and response coordination activities. An emergency response and post-disaster expert has been deployed from headquarters. FAO has initiated immediate emergency food security assessments (EFSA-72) together with national authorities and Food Security Cluster partners, as well as agricultural needs evaluations. Upon Government request, FAO and partners are starting a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).
Damages to crops, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructure, particularly marketplaces and water-irrigated perimeters, are extensive. In the most affected areas, up to 100 percent of crops were damaged or destroyed and pastures to feed livestock have also been affected. The death of small livestock has diminished vital sources of animal protein, and sheds and fences will need repairing. Preliminary results of the partial assessment conducted by the Agricultural Departmental Detections together with FAO and partners in the six most affected departments (Sud, Grande-Anse, Sud-Est, Ouest, Nord-Ouest) indicate that a total of 350 350 animals were lost.
Subsistence agriculture – a primary food source for most Haitians – was especially hit. A large portion of Haiti’s rural population is engaged in agriculture, relying on their own production to meet their food needs. Some cyclone-hit areas saw the total destruction of fruit-bearing and other trees, as well as backyard vegetable gardens.
Affected families need urgent support to avoid food shortages and quickly replant fast-growing crops. FAO is already reallocating funds from existing projects to the immediate response, but more needs to be done. Without adequate and timely action to restore their livelihoods, farming and fishing families risk becoming dependent on food aid in the coming weeks.