31 July 2003, Rome --
'silent' food crisis is looming in Haiti, the poorest
country in Latin America and the Caribbean, FAO warned today.
Living conditions of the poor have
deteriorated markedly, with over 3.8 million people suffering
from hunger. The majority of the hungry lives in rural areas.
"Haitians somehow manage to
survive from day-to-day, leaving many observers questioning
whether there is really a humanitarian emergency," said
Anne M. Bauer, Director, Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation
Division. "The indicators, however, show that there is
a crisis, albeit a 'silent' one, and one that risks
Increased social and political tensions have
contributed to a vicious cycle of marginalization and increased
vulnerability, eroding social, economic, infrastructural and
environmental assets, FAO said.
Out of a
labour force of 4.1 million only 110 000 are employed in the
formal sector, of whom 35 000 are civil servants.
Agriculture, the main source of income, has been
damaged by drought in the northwest over the last four years and
by floods in the northeast over the last season. National food
production is still decreasing due to insufficient investment,
infrastructure and access to agricultural inputs.
Poor living conditions are exacerbated by inadequate
or non-existent water and sanitation services.
Over 1.2 million children are affected or infected by
HIV/AIDS or other diseases. Around 23 percent of the children
under five are suffering from chronic malnutrition.
Reducing dependency on food
FAO launched an appeal for
$6 million to finance five key relief activities in Haiti.
- provide seeds and tools to 80 000
vulnerable farm families hit by drought and floods, so that they
can resume agricultural production;
- provide poor households with chickens, pigs
and goats to generate income and reduce malnutrition;
- improve access for 500 families to drinking
water and water for vegetable gardening
- vaccinate 675 000 farm animals against
Anthrax to reduce loss of livestock.
"These activities will benefit more than half
a million Haitians. FAO aims to increase the communities'
dignity and self-reliance in food, thereby reducing dependency
on costly and unsustainable external food aid," Bauer
FAO will soon distribute around 180
tonnes of seeds to around 60 000 people so that they can prepare
for the next planting season which starts in September.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570