Food insecurity expected to rise next year in troubled Haiti

Men catch a bag of rice as they unload a government food distribution, in a small section of the Delmas neighborhood.

A United Nations humanitarian agency says deteriorating economic conditions this year, including low growth rate, high inflation and an increase in the cost of basic food items, have had a negative impact on the humanitarian situation in Haiti.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says at the same time, insecurity and social tensions meant aid workers had limited access to a large part of the country. It said, as a result, the number of Haitians facing food insecurity rose to 3.7 million this year, up from 2.6 million in 2018.

Haitians lined up in a food distribution line.

OCHA said it expects the figure will reach 4.2 million by March, with some 1.2 million Haitians likely to experience “emergency levels” of food insecurity.

“The situation is expected to remain unstable in the coming months, which will further weaken the country’s economy and, consequently, the ability of the poorest Haitians to meet their basic needs as well as the capacity of the State to provide essential services,” the UN agency said.

The country has been experiencing unrest linked to violent efforts to oust the current government.

OCHA and its partners supported 455,000 people in Haiti during the first nine months of the year. However, lack of funding prevented them from reaching even more.

A US$126 million humanitarian plan for Haiti, launched in February, was only 32 per cent funded: among the lowest in the world, according to OCHA, which added that humanitarians are seeking US$252 million to support more than two million people in Haiti in 2020.

Overall, 4.6 million citizens, or around 40 per cent of the population—mainly women and children—will require urgent assistance, it added.