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Web-based information tool for food security for Haiti

An EC-funded tool developed at FAO is used to aggregate and disseminate food security information

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Linking information and decision making to improve food security

15 February 2010, Rome - In the face of extreme food price volatility and food shortages in Haiti following the January 12 earthquake, FAO has developed an interactive tool to guide international agencies and NGOs involved in food security across the country. 

The Haiti Food Security Emergency Tool aggregates data from a variety of authoritative sources and presents that information in an interactive map form. Subjects covered include useable roads, crop calendars, land use, livelihood zones and damage information. 

The project is based on the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) Workstation funded by the European Commission under the EC-FAO Food Security for Decision Making Programme.  

Food prices up

Prices for some food commodities have sharply increased in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince and its West and South-East provinces a month ago, destroying the country’s main port, roads and other agricultural assets.  

"Although Haiti had an excellent harvest in 2009, damage to roads and means of transport have disrupted marketing channels, pushing prices up" said Henri Josserand of the Global information and early warning system.

“We’re also concerned about implications for the upcoming agricultural season, starting next month”, he added.  The price of wheat flour has risen 70 percent from average December prices and imported rice by 20 to 30 percent. Local maize and black beans, the main commodities produced in Haiti have risen by around 30 to 35 percent. 

Import dependence

Around 60 percent of the food eaten in Haiti is imported, making the country highly vulnerable to external price shocks.

Together with food assistance, shelter, water and sanitation, the immediate priority is to keep up domestic food production and farm incomes, by supporting farmers for the upcoming planting season in March, which accounts for 60 percent of annual food production. FAO estimates one dollar invested in agriculture will produce $40 to $60 worth of food.

Despite its ongoing programme in Haiti, FAO is concerned about the lack of funding for the agricultural component of the UN Flash Appeal. Out of  the initial $23 million called for to respond to the food security crisis and step up food production only 8 percent  has been received so far.