In the weeks after the earthquake struck in Haiti, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) rushed in emergency rations such as high energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals. Over time, the food aid has shifted toward programs that not only fight hunger, but help to rebuild the country.
These are Cash and Food for Work projects for Haitians. The World Food Programme uses a 60 percent cash and 40 percent food incentive for Haitian workers to do reconstruction projects. The food ration is enough for a family of five.
photo of a Food for Work project building walls in hillside gullies to prevent flooding and to preserve arable land for farming (World Food Programme photo)
During April about 26,000 workers are in the program. In this initial stage, WFP's Anne Poulsen says the work includes “debris and drainage clearing to mitigate flooding during the rainy season" and "activities that support agriculture such as irrigation canal repair and clearance of rural feeder roads.”
Helping agricultural development is a vital component of rebuilding Haiti. The more food Haiti can produce at home, the better. As an example, WFP's school feeding program for Haiti relies on importing food into the country. In the future, WFP would like to obtain the majority of food for school feeding from farmers within Haiti.
Local purchase of food would help the Haitian economy and save WFP money on shipping costs. Haiti could ultimately become self-sufficient in supporting a national school feeding program for its children.
All this will take time. For now, the hard work has to continue to rebuild Haiti. There is a long way to go and funding has to be maintained over a significant period so that Food for Work and other projects can move forward. To learn more, please visit the World Food Programme or the Friends of the World Food Program.