As a result of the hurricane, over two million people, close to half of them children, are in need of assistance. Through its member World Renew, and their partner Productive Cooperatives Haiti, the Foodgrains Bank is responding in several communities of Grand’Anse, the most-affected area of the country.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” says Matthew Van Geest, Senior Program Officer at the Foodgrains Bank, of the damage in the country.
“Pretty much every single home in the area of Grand’Anse was wiped out, as were the crops people had planted,” he says.
“It’s hard to imagine the thoughts and feelings a Haitian farmer would have experienced seeing their crops, representing months of hard work, wiped out in such a short period of time.”
Through the project, which totals $527,000, 1,600 of the most vulnerable households, representing about 8,000 people, will receive emergency food rations once a month for three months. The food packages are made up of rice, corn, beans and oil.
The project is not just providing emergency food, though.
“We’re also helping farm families get back on their feet by giving each household 2.5 kilograms of maize seed and six kilograms of bean seed,” says Van Geest.
Typically, Haitian farmers can harvest a short-term crop like corn and beans in February. The emergency food will help them get by until this time.
Hurricane Matthew came on the tail of a drought that hit Haiti over two successive years, Van Geest notes.
“Haitian farmers are going to have a lot of challenges over the coming months and years as they recover,” he says.
Fortunately, he adds, “Haitian farmers have a strength that I believe will see them through the aftermath of this tragedy. It’s an honour to walk beside them at such a time.”