12 May 2010 As Haiti continues to recover from January’s catastrophic earthquake, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced an increase in cash- and food-for-work programmes for the country.
“Step by step, the people of Haiti are rebuilding their country,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, in the capital, Port-au-Prince. “This is a tribute to a nation that has shown extraordinary resilience in the face of epic levels of devastation.”
More than 200,000 people were killed in the 12 January quake, which left 1.3 million people homeless, in addition to damaging Government buildings and vital infrastructure.
WFP food was being distributed within hours of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake, and the agency has helped millions of people with its life-saving food rations in the first few months after the disaster.
WFP is currently working with Haitian authorities to put the agency’s so-called toolbox – also including nutritional supplementary feeding and school meals – to full use, and these schemes are expected to benefit more than 2 million people.
“We will look to empowering farming families and to stimulating markets across the country as a way to support the local community,” Ms. Sheeran, who wrapped up her two-day visit to the country, said.
As Haiti enters the rain and hurricane season, WFP is also working to pre-position food, trucks and other supplies. It is also supporting local communities protect themselves against flooding, erosion and landslides.
During her trip, Ms. Sheeran visited a cash- and food-for-work programme in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets, near the capital. Under this scheme, people who have lost their homes and livelihoods are building flood barriers to prevent the erosion of fertile soil, in return for food to feed their families and money to rebuild their homes.
Such initiatives, she pointed out, are a vital element of WFP’s efforts to support long-term reconstruction, helping to jump-start the local economy and address food insecurity.
Work projects are being scaled up to include 140,000 workers across Haiti, with benefits reaching up to 700,000 people in total.
In Port-au-Prince, the WFP chief visited a school meals programme with the agency’s newest Ambassador Against Hunger, pop singer Christina Aguilera.
In January, the five-time Grammy winner performed in MTV’s ‘Hope for Haiti’ telethon that raised more than $60 million for disaster relief, including for WFP relief work.
Ms. Sheeran travelled to Haiti from Brazil, where she honoured President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for his leadership in the fight against hunger and inadequate nutrition in his country and across the world by recognizing him as a Global Champion in the Battle Against Hunger.
“The Government of Brazil and the World Food Programme share a common vision of a world free of hunger,” she said.
“President Lula has shown leadership in the fight against hunger by pushing the needs of the poor and the under-nourished to the very top of the international agenda.”
Ms. Sheeran, who visited the site of one of Brazil’s national hunger programmes, “Fome Zero” (Zero Hunger) project near the capital, Brasilia, said Mr. Lula da Silva’s enthusiasm for the needs of the hungry had set an example for others.
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