UN agency launches Web tool to help aid workers get food to Haitians in need

Haitians line up for UN-distributed food

15 February 2010 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched an interactive Web-based tool containing information on usable roads, crop calendars and damaged areas in Haiti to help aid workers in the Caribbean country better distribute food and combat shortages in the wake of last month's earthquake.

The Haiti Food Security Emergency Tool, funded by the European Commission (EC), compiles data from a series of sources and then presents it in an interactive map form, according to a press release issued by FAO from its headquarters in Rome.

The new tool is aimed at helping non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international agencies and others contributing to relief efforts in Haiti, where an estimated 200,000 people died as a result of the quake on 12 January and another 2 million people now depend on aid.

Since the quake, food prices have been extremely volatile in Haiti, with the price of wheat flour surging by 70 per cent from the levels of December last year. Maize and black beans, two commodities produced locally, have jumped by between 30 and 35 per cent.

FAO noted that Haiti, already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is especially vulnerable to price fluctuations because about 60 per cent of the food eaten in the country has been imported.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it has started a campaign in Haiti to ensure that 53,000 children under the age of five and 16,000 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers do not succumb to malnutrition.

Alongside its existing rations of food, WFP is distributing supplementary plumpy, a ready-to-use food similar to peanut butter that is known for its nutritional qualities, to Haitians in need.


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