Haiti earthquake fact sheet

Haiti earthquake fact sheet
Feb 2010

The Haitian earthquake, one of the deadliest in modern times, caused a dramatic humanitarian crisis and led to one million homeless people in Port-au-Prince and at least 500 000 people fleeing the capital for the provinces. It also seriously impacted food security nationwide and a hunger crisis is looming. Populations that already did not get enough to eat, now share their family food baskets with relatives that have fled the quake zone.

Damage to supply chain infrastructure has made food much more expensive. The prices of wheat flower, sorghum, imported rice and beans, the main source of protein for the poor, have all soared.

Agriculture is an important part of the solution to the Haiti crisis as it can provide food self-reliance, employment and a productive safety net through cash for work. FAO’s immediate priority is to sustain and ramp up domestic food production by providing support to poor farmers for the March planting season which accounts for 60 percent of national food production.

FAO asked for USD 23 million under the initial Haiti Earthquake Flash Appeal to keep national food production going and support vulnerable farmers and poor families reeling from the disaster. It is a deep concern for FAO that only 8 percent (USD 1.7 million from Belgium, Brazil, CERF and FAO) of the requirements under this appeal have been so far received, while needs are already being revised to USD 50 million.

Agriculture plays a key role in the solution to the Haiti crisis. It can provide food self-reliance as well as productive safety nets through cash-for-work and create employment. FAO promotes a people’s centred approach for the reconstruction of Haiti. It is important to build capacity both at the national institution and local organization levels.

In the medium and longer term, substantial investment in agriculture and support to poor farmers, the drivers and beneficiaries of rural development, must play a major role if lasting national recovery is to be achieved in Haiti. International investment in natural resource management, to preserve fresh water supplies and reforest the country’s denuded hills is also vital to increase Haiti’s resilience to future natural disasters.

Haitian agriculture was in the grip of a renaissance before the disaster struck, showing recovery is possible. The earthquakes must not be allowed to reverse that positive trend.