Haiti: Escalating Violence And Economic Shocks Compound Hunger Crisis

Going home with seeds. Photo Credit: ©FAO/Justine Texier
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Port-au-Prince/Santiago de Chile – Haiti is in the grip of a worsening humanitarian crisis, with nearly half of the population likely facing acute food insecurity, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) analysis (IPC) . The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warns of dire consequences unless urgent action is taken to address the root causes of this crisis.

Going home with seeds. Photo Credit: ©FAO/Justine Texier

Around 4.97 million people are experiencing or will likely experience high levels of acute food insecurity between March and June 2024. Of these, 1.64 million people (17 percent of the analyzed population) are classified in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency), who are mostly concentrated in eight areas including the Artibonite valley, rural areas of La Grand’Anse, La Gonâve, the transverse part of the West and impoverished neighbourhoods Cité Soleil, Croix de Bouquets and Port-au-Prince. These figures show a stark deterioration of food security in Haiti, with 532,000 additional people experiencing acute food insecurity compared to previous estimates for the same period.

The hunger crisis is fueled by a myriad of factors, including escalating armed gang violence, economic shocks, low agricultural yields, below-average rainfall, the lingering impacts of the August 2021 earthquake along with successive floods and reduced access to humanitarian aid.

Violence perpetrated by armed groups has intensified in recent months, resulting in the internal displacement of approximately 362,000 people, including 50,000 displaced within the last three months, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This escalation in violence not only disrupts the circulation of goods and restricts access to markets but also inflates the prices of essential food items in an already fragile context. El Niño has compounded agricultural challenges, particularly affecting crop producers.

Delays in the rainy season and rainfall deficits have significantly impacted the outcome of the 2023 spring season, typically representing half of the national agricultural production. Heavy rains and severe flooding in mid-November 2023 have damaged crops, homes and infrastructure. Local agricultural production deficits and market supply chain dysfunction have kept food prices high, hindering access to food. In 2023, agricultural production plummeted by around 39% for maize, 34% for rice and 22% for sorghum compared to the five-year average.

Agriculture stands as a vital lifeline for Haitians, with over 75% of the most food-insecure people residing in rural areas. Urgent support is needed to boost agricultural and livestock production, ensuring the availability of and access to food for vulnerable farming families and communities.

The Ministers and Vice-ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, assembled at the 38th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, held in the city of Georgetown, Guyana from 18 to 21 March, addressed Haiti´s situation and included a specific resolution on this topic: “We expressed solidarity with the Republic of Haiti for the deteriorating humanitarian situation that compromises the food security and nutrition, as well as the livelihoods of its population.”

FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mario Lubetkin, said “We are consistent with the countries’ demands regarding the priority we should give to Haiti´s critical situation”.

FAO, with its local offices and teams actively present in the field, continues to closely monitor the situation and deliver essential agricultural support for the upcoming planting seasons. FAO is also ready to provide vulnerable populations, both displaced and residents, in urban and peri-urban areas of Port au Prince with critical assistance (i.e. cash transfers along with vegetable seeds and tools) to meet their basic needs and restore their agricultural livelihoods.

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