Hurricane Sandy left death and destruction along its path through the Caribbean and upwards through the northeast United States over the past week. The latest death toll in the United States is nearing 100 and property and environmental damages will cost billions of dollars to repair. But, in Haiti where hurricanes and tropical storms are rife and where development projects remain too few the flooding, disease, and homelessness are harder to bear.
Even though Sandy roared through the Caribbean last week flooding is still a major concern particularly as cholera cases rise. The flooding also damaged newly planted crops that may result in spikes in food prices.
“Several thousand kilometres of agricultural roads were destroyed and thousands of heads of cattle were swept away by the flood waters, which also destroyed thousands of hectares of plantations,” Agriculture Minister Jacques Thomas said as reported by South Africa’s Times Live.
Yesterday the Haitian government declared a month-long state of emergency to accelerate infrastructure and electrical repair and restore drinking water. Johan Peleman, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) operation in Haiti, told UN Radio that it is still too early to assess the full range of damages.
There are, however, concerns about food insecurity. “Already, the drought and the previous storm had hit the northern part of the country very badly and we had seen the levels of food insecurity rise there,” Peleman said. “With the south being hit now, we are going to face in the next couple of months very serious problems of malnutrition and food insecurity.”
Haiti, the tiny island in the Caribbean and one of the poorest countries in the world, experienced severe infrastructure devastation and 52 deaths caused by hurricane Sandy. 200,000 people are currently homeless as a direct result of the hurricane. Still suffering from the damage of Issac earlier this summer and the earthquake from nearly three years ago, Haiti is again ripe for a devastating cholera outbreak, food shortages, and food price spikes. Crop damage, especially banana and coffee, is expected and the loss of livestock will hurt many farmers.
With all of the infrastructure damage and humanitarian efforts that are perpetually underway the Security Council recently extended the UN Haiti Mission for one year until October 15, 2013. The UN Haiti Mission creates development programs that help bring Haitians to self-sufficiency like the inland fish farm written about in September, or the recent infrastructure project that got underway in Port-au-Prince that will help rebuild streets and roadways.
Here is a telling video from the Washington Post that shows some of the devastation first hand and how those still living in the tent cities are faring.