Haiti: Food is key, now and into the future

Though feeding programs appear to be going more smoothly over the last several days, CWS staffer Chris Herlinger in Port-au-Prince says that concerns about both short-term and long-term food security remain major worries.

Woman holding girl eating
Partner Aprosifa cares for malnourished children at their clinic in Carrefour Feuilles. Hunger was widespread in Haiti even before the earthquake struck. CWS will be focusing especially on food sustainability as part of earthquake recovery efforts.
Photo: Christian Aid/ACT Alliance

Port-au-Prince, Haiti -- Though feeding programs appear to be going more smoothly over the last several days, CWS staffer Chris Herlinger in Port-au-Prince says that concerns about both short-term and long-term food security remain major worries.

In talking to numerous disaster survivors and humanitarian workers since his arrival in Port-au-Prince late last week, Herlinger reported that the issue of food always remains at the forefront.

“People tap their stomachs, indicating they have not eaten. I spoke to one community leader of a displacement site outside of Port-au-Prince yesterday who told me, ‘We have no food, no stoves, people are hungry. I’m in charge and I don’t know what to do,’” Herlinger said Wednesday (Feb. 3).

He also noted that there are already considerable worries about the coming growing season and its implications for Haiti’s food security. Earlier this week, the UN news agency IRIN reported that agricultural experts believe the way to prevent an immediate food-security crisis in Haiti is in ensuring that seeds are sown during the planting season that begins in March.

"To prevent this urban disaster from becoming a rural tragedy as well, it is crucial that we save the upcoming planting season," said Jacques Diouf, the director of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, quoted by IRIN.

Martin Coria, CWS Latin America/Caribbean regional coordinator, emphasizes that food security is on the agenda for CWS in its short-term and long-term efforts in Haiti.

CWS plans to continue its food security work in rural Haiti with Haitian partners and to expand work with partner Service Chretien d'Haiti in providing seeds to farmers. CWS will also work with SCH and other partners in providing tools to urban workers, like carpenters, so that they can begin small-scale jobs that will help them earn income for their families.

“Without tools you cannot get back to work,” Coria said. “And that’s a food security issue.”

Church World Service's Chris Herlinger is on assignment in Haiti for the CWS-supported ACT Alliance. ACT Alliance 

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More on CWS Haiti earthquake response


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Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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