Bringing food to Haiti's hungry families


August 13, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Since the first weeks after January's earthquake, the Mercy Corps team has been working with families in extremely poor villages like Sarazin, in Haiti's Central Plateau. Photo: Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps

Families in Haiti’s Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite have been going hungry – not because food is not available, but because they cannot afford it.

We know that it will take much more than seven months to get Haiti’s devastated economy to a stage where it can adequately support Haitians – providing the jobs they need to take care of their families. We know that even before the earthquake, these families struggled with food security. And we know that this situation must change.

With support from USAID, Mercy Corps is taking the first step to address the dire situation in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite. Families in these areas have generously taken in thousands of people who left Port-au-Prince after the earthquake - adding more mouths to feed when they already struggled.

A $12.5 million grant, under the new Emergency Food Security Program in Haiti, will allow us to provide emergency food aid to families in need – and to support local economies by purchasing the food from nearby markets and vendors. We welcome this new effective and efficient food aid initiative.

Twenty thousand families, or approximately 100,000 people, will benefit from this program. For nine months, we will give them vouchers for monthly supplies of staples like rice, beans, and oil. We estimate that nearly half of the people who receive this food will have been displaced by the earthquake.

One hundred thirty five small businesses will also benefit – providing food staples for these families and earning additional income.

This USAID-funded program is a key element of Mercy Corps’ efforts in these underserved regions of Haiti. Separately, Mercy Corps is also providing emergency income to 20,000 families hosting internally displaced people through cash for work and cash grants. We will also run a voucher program so these families can buy shelter supplies to improve their now-crowded homes, and we will help women buy supplies to start their own small businesses.

Long term, Mercy Corps is working to jumpstart these regional economies through improved agricultural production and small business support – so that families no longer go hungry, because they have the income to buy what they need.