Haiti Aid in Jeopardy Ahead of Hurricane Season

Organizations say they are struggling to provide assistance now that funds have dried up.

Posted: 04/23/2013 01:30 PM EDT
Haiti Aid in Jeopardy Ahead of Hurricane Season

Despite the major donations received by Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, organizations on the ground now say that money for essential programs has dried up and action is needed fast to help Haitians prepare for the 2013 hurricane season.

“More and more organizations have left, and this is causing us problems,” Oliver Schulz, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Haiti, told the Miami Herald.

Donors that generously funded humanitarian projects in 2010 have begun to move on, advocates say, leaving behind a critical shortage of supplies, medicine and workers to assist with Haiti’s reconstruction and public health needs. In 2012, Haiti was hit by Hurricanes Sandy and Issac, back-to-back, causing substantial crop damage and leaving nearly 1.5 million people without enough food to eat.

“The situation is bad,” said Gary Mathieu, head of Haiti’s National Food Security Coordination unit, according to the paper.

The government estimates that some 800,000 people are still waiting for assistance after the storms.

In addition to food woes, cholera is also back on the rise in Haiti, needlessly killing many who do not have access to medicine. Since the epidemic broke out in 2010, more than 8,000 Haitians have died from cholera and another 653,000 have fallen ill from the disease.

As the hurricane season approaches, and the month of May looms close (known as one of the wettest months), advocates fear that the disease will begin to spread more rapidly.

To make matters worse, the National Weather Service predicts that 2013 will be a particularly active year for tropical storms and hurricanes.

Meteorologists predict a total of 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes will hit the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. this year.

“What we are using now for this round of distribution is the stock we would have used to preposition food for the hurricane season,” Myrta Kaulard, country director for the World Food Program told the Herald about the organization’s food aid distribution. “By July, we will have all of our warehouses empty. That is really when the hurricane season is starting.”

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently finished a weeklong trip to the U.S. where he met with officials from the World Bank, the U.N. and other donors to shore up international support for Haiti.

Lamothe said the country needed at least three more years to show real gains follwoing the setbacks.

“The country was rocked by an earthquake, has been ravaged by hurricanes, and in only 23 months we were able to do some of the things we’re doing,” Lamothe told Caribbean Journal on the heels of his visit. “Putting kids in school, building roads, reconstructing buildings, increasing the security climate, working with investors, building industrial parks .... So those things take time.”

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(Photo: Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH /Landov/REUTERS)

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