Haitian partners address challenges after Hurricane Matthew

By Shelby Jefcoat
University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

Hurricane Matthew killed 1,000 people in Haiti and destroyed fall crops in many places, but Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab partners weathered the storm and were quickly back to work. Haiti will take years to recover from the Category 4 storm, which slammed into the southern peninsula on Oct. 4, wiping away homes, roads and crops.

Meds & Food for Kids, a PMIL collaborator that makes therapeutic food for children and assists local farmers in an effort to source peanuts locally, weathered the storm, but expressed concern about the rest of the country.

“Although the MFK Factory in Cap-Haitien was not damaged and our employees are safe, we have partners in the south of Haiti that have been hit by this terrible storm. They are working around the clock to repair roads, provide medical attention to the hurt and sick and also feed the hungry,” MFK Executive Director Pat Wolff told supporters in an Oct. 10 newsletter.

“Even those who have not lost their lives have lost loved ones, animals, homes, crops and belongings. People across the world are using their voices to offer support and spread the word about the need for help.”

The hurricane wiped out nearly 100 percent of crops and 50 percent of livestock in the Grand-Anse region, according to the World Food Program, and the demand for therapeutic foods will increase. 

MFK already is contributing to current organized aid, and anticipating an inevitable increase in malnourished children in the upcoming months. An employee based in Port au Prince will help assess changing needs. 

“We are providing boxes of our nutritious foods to add to the food resources that are being delivered. Unfortunately, in a month or two there will be an increase in officially malnourished children whom we will treat medically,” Wolff said. “An additional nutritionist on our team based in Port au Prince will help identify the needs of the people on the peninsula. We are grateful to all of our faithful supporters for the calls, emails, donations and messages of support on our social media accounts.”

Experts also predict that, because of the severe damage to crops and livestock and increased costs of transport along damaged infrastructure, food prices as a whole will increase.

Published October 20, 2016