Sunday, April 17, 2016

Millions Face Starvation as Haiti’s Drought Stretches into Its Third Year

Mirene Raymond has farmed rice in Haiti for decades, but she says she has never seen conditions quite so bad, April 2016. (Credit: Meghan Dhaliwal / Thinkprogress) Click to Enlarge.
The El Niño weather pattern has caused drier than usual conditions in Haiti that have led officials to declare a national emergency.  Climate scientists have warned for years of a stronger impact of El Niño due to rising ocean temperatures.  Upward temperature trends have also exacerbated droughts and devastated agricultural production around the world.

Crop losses for this year have already been reported in Haiti.  As a drought in the Caribbean stretches into its third year running, Raymond has tapped into all of her reserves.  She used to be able to sell much of her harvest, and even buy rice from other farmers, to sell at a higher price at a local market.

This year, however, Raymond and other farmers in the once fertile Artibonite Valley will survive on what they grow.

“The Artibonite used to be able to supply the whole country with rice.  People from all over Haiti used to come here to buy rice.  With things as they are, we can’t even supply enough rice for people living in the region,” she said.  “Now we harvest just enough for us to eat.”

More than five million Haitians face food insecurity, according to a study by the World Food Program (WFP).  Of those, 1.5 million Haitians are severely food insecure.  That’s twice the number recorded last autumn.

“The drought has pushed people further into poverty and hunger, and many households have experienced several back-to-back poor harvests.  As a result, any alternative livelihood strategies and survival strategies are nearly depleted,” Carlos Veloso, WFP’s acting Country Director for Haiti, told ThinkProgress in an email.

“Without support from WFP donors, it will be challenging to meet these needs,” he added.

To provide basic assistance to one million Haitians worst hit by the drought, the WFP has said that it will require $84 million.

That assistance, however, won’t help to remedy the longstanding infrastructure and trade issues which have worsened the effects of the drought.  According to Raymond, farmers have suffered not only from natural disasters, but also from the deterioration of a system of canals that used to move water from the mountains into the Artibonite Valley.

Read more at Millions Face Starvation as Haiti’s Drought Stretches into Its Third Year

No comments:

Post a Comment