Haiti is suffering one of the worst impacts of Hurricane Sandy as torrential rains and flooding damaged more than 70 percent of the country’s crops, further weakening its already insecure food supply.
Staple crops like maize, plantains and bananas have been affected, which means Haiti will have to rely even more on increasingly expensive food imports as record summer droughts have driven up prices.
According to the U.N. World Food Program, Haiti depends on food imports for half of its required supply.
“Haiti is a food-deficit country. It relies heavily on imported food -- 50 percent of national requirements are imported,” reads an overview of Haiti from the WFP.
“Food prices have been rising since the end of 2010. In a country where approximately half of the population lives with less than $1 a day and three quarters have less than $2 per day, this increase has led to an overall loss of purchasing power for the majority of Haitians.”
“Over the years, natural disasters have intensified Haiti's plight,” it adds. “Every year between June and November, the hurricane season brings with it fears of more devastating storms.”
The so-called “superstorm” was just a category 1 hurricane when it passed through the Caribbean but still left a trail of disaster in its wake.
Haiti suffered the highest amount of casualties with at least 52 deaths out of at least 69 recorded for the Caribbean region from Sandy.
The impoverished island nation is still recovering from the devastating impact of the 2010 earthquake, which the U.N. estimates killed more than 200,000 people. More than 350,000 people are still living in temporary shelters with limited or no access to clean water, food and sanitation on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince.
These conditions also created an extreme vulnerability to water-borne diseases and a cholera outbreak followed in the aftermath of the earthquake, killing an additional 7,000 people.
There are new fears of another cholera epidemic in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The circumstances threatening public health and food security in Haiti have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
Record summer droughts have reduced global food production, raising the price of food exports, while rising sea levels, warmer temperatures and increased moisture in the atmosphere have made storms more frequent, more intense and more destructive.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....