Foodgrains Bank Responding to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

Friday, February 24, 2017

Foodgrains Bank Executive Director Jim Cornelius at the site of a food-for-work project where people affected by Hurricane Matthew are working on road rehabilitation in return for food.

Three project totaling $1.2 million providing emergency food, helping farmers regain livelihoods

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is responding to the crisis in Haiti, where Hurricane Matthew, the third-strongest hurricane in Haitian history, touched down on October 4.

As a result of the hurricane, over two million people, close to half of them children, are in need of assistance. Through its members Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund (PWRDF), Presbyterian World Service & Development and World Renew, alongside their local partners, 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.”

One project, through Foodgrains Bank member PWRDF, is providing food-for-work opportunities for 520 households. In exchange for things like repairing damaged roads and building rock walls, families are receiving distributions of maize, beans, and oil, as well as sapling cuttings they can plant for future income, and to reduce soil erosion. An additional very vulnerable 130 households, are also receiving emergency food, without needing to work.  A total of 3,250 people are benefiting from the assistance.

Another project, through Foodgrains Bank member World Renew which totals $527,000, 1,600 of the most vulnerable households, representing about 8,000 people, are receiving 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.

The final project, through Foodgrains Bank member PWS&D, is providing emergency food to 1,200 families, 400 of whom are also taking part in food-for-work activities. This project is worth $495,000.

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.

–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator