In many ways the enormous outpouring of support for Haiti after the earthquake was very moving. In other ways, not so much – consider the International community’s total lack of interest in whether Haitians will be able to feed themselves in the upcoming year – “We’re very happy to send our surgeons, engineers and food aid – but hey, when we’re done, we’re done” seems to be the dominant worldview, as the UN reports:
“At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf told a high-level meeting in Rome to coordinate UN efforts for the medium- and long-term recovery of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The $575-million UN appeal launched shortly after the 12 January quake, which killed some 200,000 people, injured many others and left 2 million in need of aid, sought $23 million for immediate agricultural needs. “But only 8 per cent of this sum has so far been funded,” Mr. Diouf said. “The economic and social reconstruction of Haiti requires a revival of food production and massive investment in rural areas.
“The immediate priority is support for the farm season that begins in March and accounts for more than 60 per cent of the country’s food production,” he added, noting that FAO has already started to distribute seeds, fertilizer and tools to enable farmers to plant for the next harvest.
The idea that we can draw away again, abandon Haiti (and not for the first time) at the point of actually dealing with their chronic hunger is an enormous betrayal. Time to remind our governments that our involvement cannot stop here! And while you are contacting your fearless leaders, remind them that the US could lead the toward the cancellation of Haiti’s enormous burden of debt.