Deadly Food Crisis Grips Haiti

 40m face starvation The 5-year-old teetered on broomstick legs – he weighed less than 20 pounds, even after days of drinking enriched milk. Nearby, a 4-year-old girl hung from a strap attached to a scale, her wide eyes lifeless, her emaciated arms dangling weakly.

In pockets of Haiti accessible only by donkey or foot, children are dying of malnutrition, their already meager food supply cut by a series of devastating storms that destroyed crops, wiped out livestock, and sent food prices spiraling.

At least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the past four weeks in the remote region of Baie d’Orange, in southeast Haiti, aid workers said last week, and there are fears the toll will rise much higher if help does not come quickly to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Another 65 severely malnourished children are being treated in makeshift tent clinics in the mountainous area, or at hospitals they were brought to in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, said Max Cosci, who heads the Belgian contingent of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

One evacuee, a 7-year-old girl, died while being treated.

“The situation is extremely, extremely fragile and dangerous,” Cosci said.

At a makeshift malnutrition ward at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the capital, 10 emaciated children were under emergency care Thursday, their stomachs swollen and their hair faded by pigmentation loss. Several had the puffy faces typical of kwashiorkor, a protein-deficiency disorder.

Five-year-old Mackenson Duclair, his ribs protruding and his legs little more than skin stretched over bones, weighed in at 19.8 pounds, even after days of drinking enriched milk Doctors said he needed to gain another 5 pounds before he could go home.

Mackenson’s grandmother, who has raised him since his mother died, said she barely has a can of corn grits to feed herself, the boy, and her 8-year-old granddaughter each day. “These things did not happen when I was growing up,” Ticouloute Fortune said.

Rural families already struggling with soaring food prices in Haiti lost their safety nets when fields were destroyed and livestock wiped out by the storms, which killed nearly 800 people and caused $1 billion of damage in August and September.

UN World Food Program country director Myrta Kaulard said she fears more deaths from malnutrition in other isolated parts of Haiti, and search teams were fanning out in the northwest and along the southwestern peninsula to check.

The World Food Program has sent more than 30 tons of food aid – enough to feed 5,800 people for two weeks – into the remote southeastern region since September, and other groups funded by the US Agency for International Development have sent food as well, Kaulard said.

But the steep, narrow paths and poor visibility make it difficult to deliver the food to the mountain communities, where hunger is worsening. In one case, a truck struggling up a hill flipped over and slid into a ravine, killing an aid worker.

The mountain villages have long suffered from hunger, growing only enough staples to feed themselves less than seven months out of the year, she said.

But families normally have enough to last through December. This year, Haiti’s agriculture ministry says 60 percent of the harvest was lost in the storms.

Source: The Boston Globe


One Response to Deadly Food Crisis Grips Haiti

  1. Pingback: Haiti » Knitting in Kingston Springs: Happy Thanksgiving!

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