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Haiti: Hurricane Matthew

Haiti: Hurricane Matthew

On 3 and 4 October 2016, Category 4 Hurricane Matthew cut a path of destruction across Haiti ‒ the strongest in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007 ‒ affecting 2.1 million people. Aggravating the effects of El Niño-related events, its devastating winds and heavy rainfall caused widespread damage to crops, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructure in the southwest of the country (departments of Grande-Anse, Sud, Sud-Est and Nippes).

FAO’s immediate response

FAO’s presence in the country for nearly four decades, allowed to immediately take action by providing technical support to the Government in conducting rapid assessments and in addressing the affected population’s food security needs. FAO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean has been mobilized and has attended regional UN meetings; the country office in Haiti is actively involved in UNCT meetings and procedures for national preparedness and response coordination activities. FAO has undertaken emergency food security assessments (EFSA-72) together with national authorities and Food Security Sector partners, as well as agricultural needs evaluations. Upon Government request, UNDP, FAO and partners have carried out a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) that estimates damage to the agriculture sector of USD 573.5 million and recovery costs of USD 343 million.

Under the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, FAO requires USD 22.2 million to restore the livelihoods of 700 000 people, including vulnerable farmers, small-scale herders and fishers affected by the Hurricane, as well as vulnerable farmers affected by the 2015/16 droughts. Despite limited funds received thus far, FAO was able to distribute crop seeds and sweet potato cuttings to 21 650 households in the most affected departments for the 2016/17 winter season, as well as vouchers to buy crop seeds at seed fairs. In addition, FAO started the distribution of agricultural inputs (205 tonnes of seeds and 10.3 million cassava and sweet potato cuttings) to 17 300 households for the 2017 spring season that usually accounts for 60 percent of Haiti’s annual production ‒ the main source of food for rural households throughout the year. Cash for work is also being implemented for the production of 1.8 million seedlings, the rehabilitation of irrigation canals, plot cleaning and watershed management, benefiting about 5 355 people. Fishers will be receiving fishing equipment, and mobile veterinary clinics are set up to treat the animals of 2 500 households.

Affected families need urgent support to avoid food shortages and quickly replant fast-growing crops. Timely action is crucial to restore the livelihoods of farming and fishing families and avoid their dependency on food aid.

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