Over 1.5 million Haitians could remain at risk of food insecurity well into 2013 as a result of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, according to the United Nations.
“At the moment, one of our biggest worries is in areas that are still isolated after Hurricane Sandy, where women and children face worsening nutrition,” said Myrta Kaulard, the U.N. World Food Program’s Director in Haiti, in a statement.
“At the same time, it is crucial to help Haitian farmers so that they can plant crops for the small December season and for the main agricultural season in the spring.”
Hurricane Sandy claimed 54 lives when it swept through Haiti, causing massive flooding that damaged 70 percent of the nation’s crops.
Haiti already relies on imports for about half of its food requirements, while record high temperatures and droughts in the summer have lowered global agricultural output and driven food prices up.
The U.N. WFP said it would focus on preventing and treating malnutrition in 100,000 women and children and set up a work program to provide 170,000 Haitians with income while they rehabilitate the agricultural sector, develop flood-control systems and secure fresh-water sources. It estimated the cost of these programs at $19 million.
“Our donors’ support is crucial not only to ensure that we maintain our emergency response capacity in Haiti, but also to support rural people to get back on their feet quickly,” Kaulard said.
“Without immediate cash contributions, the situation of these rural households will continue deteriorating until the next main crop in mid-2013.”
Haiti remains vulnerable to natural disasters and epidemics as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
In 2010, it’s capital Port-au-Prince was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which the U.N. estimates caused over 200,000 deaths.
Over 350,000 people still remain living in temporary shelters on the outskirts of the city, though it is unclear how many people were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
A cholera outbreak took another 7,000 lives in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, and concerns remain about another potential epidemic in the wake of last month’s storm.