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Food security emergency tool for Haiti victims

16 February 2010

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A European Commission funded web-based tool developed at FAO will help to aggregate and disseminate food security information in Haiti. It presents details in an interactive map form and will aid the relief agencies.

In the face of extreme food price volatility and food shortages in Haiti following the January 12 earthquake, FAO has developed an interactive tool to guide international agencies and NGOs involved in food security across the country.

The Haiti Food Security Emergency Tool aggregates data from a variety of authoritative sources and presents that information in an interactive map form. Subjects covered include useable roads, crop calendars, land use, livelihood zones and damage information.

The project is based on the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) Workstation funded by the European Commission under the EC-FAO Food Security for Decision Making Programme.

Food prices up

Prices for some food commodities have sharply increased in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince and its West and South-East provinces a month ago, destroying the country’s main port, roads and other agricultural assets.

"Although Haiti had an excellent harvest in 2009, damage to roads and means of transport have disrupted marketing channels, pushing prices up" said Henri Josserand of the Global information and early warning system.

“We’re also concerned about implications for the upcoming agricultural season, starting next month”, he added.  The price of wheat flour has risen 70% from average December prices and imported rice by 20 to 30%. Local maize and black beans, the main commodities produced in Haiti have risen by around 30 to 35%.

Import dependence

Around 60% of the food eaten in Haiti is imported, making the country highly vulnerable to external price shocks.

Together with food assistance, shelter, water and sanitation, the immediate priority is to keep up domestic food production and farm incomes, by supporting farmers for the upcoming planting season in March, which accounts for 60% of annual food production. FAO estimates one dollar invested in agriculture will produce $40 to $60 worth of food.

Despite its ongoing programme in Haiti, FAO is concerned about the lack of funding for the agricultural component of the UN Flash Appeal. Out of  the initial $23 million called for to respond to the food security crisis and step up food production only 8% has been received so far.

Source : FAO

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