In October, Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti—a country hit by recurrent natural disasters. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said the hurricane destroyed 70 to 100 percent of crops and crippled fisheries. Replanting vegetable crops is relatively quick, but the loss of seasoned banana and coconut trees is a staggering blow to Haiti’s economy.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 1.4 million people need humanitarian aid, while 806,000 people urgently need food. During the month following the disaster, the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed 4,200 metric tons of food to 426,000 people, equivalent to about 10 kg per person, with a goal to reach all 806,000 people in dire need. In response, multiple organizations such Food for the Poor and Save the Children are pledging to help the recovery effort.
This disaster coincides with the already severe food insecurity and malnutrition in the country. Before Hurricane Matthew, three-years of El Niño-associated drought conditions diminished food production so severely that an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) by the WFP concluded that country was in its worst food crisis in 15 years. In this report, 72 percent of households lost more than 80 percent of their production. Before Hurricane Matthew, FAO predicts more than 1 in 3 Haitians were already food insecure, and WFP said about 50 percent of the population was undernourished.
The path of the hurricane devastated the agriculture sector, damaging recently harvested crops and flooding others. FAO estimates the loss of 132 thousand tons of cereal crops equivalent to 10 kg per citizen and the loss of mature fruits trees still needs to be assessed.
The Climate Risk Index ranked Haiti third for countries that are most susceptible to extreme weather events. While experts are still trying to understand the global impacts of climate change, cooperation between many international organizations will be required to strengthen the country’s resilience to disasters, according to USAID.