Belgium supports FAO in restoring the food security and livelihoods of 155 400 people affected by Hurricane Irma

Belgium supports FAO in restoring the food security and livelihoods of 155 400 people affected by Hurricane Irma


Thanks to the financial contribution of the Government the Kingdom of Belgium to the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), FAO was allocated USD 300 000 to support more than 31 000 Cuban families (155 400 people) affected by Hurricane Irma. The project’s objective is to protect the livelihoods and ensure the food security of hurricane-affected people in the most impacted municipalities.

Category 5 Hurricane Irma was the strongest storm observed in the Atlantic since Wilma in 2005 in terms of maximum sustained winds. Hitting the country for over 72 hours from 8 to 10 September 2017, it affected 90 percent of the entire Cuban territory.
This extremely powerful and catastrophic hurricane caused severe damages and losses to agricultural, livestock and fisheries production. More than 50 500 ha of basic crops were lost and 466 poultry farms were affected, causing the loss of over 200 000 hens, with a 30 percent reduction in the daily production of eggs ‒ an important source of affordable animal protein for the population. Due to the damage of 440 000 m2 of breeding infrastructure (mainly poultry, aquaculture and pig farms), a significant number of animals are now in need of a safe shelter. 

Greenhouses, irrigation systems, breeding centers and sugar mills were damaged (nearly 40 percent of the country’s sugar mills suffered structural damages) and there is limited food availability in local markets. As the availability of food is the most pressing need in the country, FAO focuses on supporting the immediate recovery of agricultural and livestock production. The immediate rehabilitation of eggs and vegetables production are some of FAO’s main activities, taking into account their importance for the nutrition of affected communities.

The SFERA grant will allow the restoration of five hen-pens hosting 47 500 hens and two greenhouse tunnels capable of producing 1 million seedlings per year. This will provide 23 750 households (118 750 people) with a source of animal protein (ten eggs/month/person) and 7 333 households (36 667 people) with nutritious vegetables (9 kg/month/person). Overall, thanks to Belgian contribution, FAO will contribute to strengthening the resilience of the agricultural livelihoods of more than 155 400 people affected by Hurricane Irma in Cuba.