Oxfam warns of hunger in Haiti 3 months after Hurricane Matthew

Published: 4th January 2017

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians who survived Hurricane Matthew, which ripped through their country three months ago, will go hungry if governments, donors and aid agencies do not step up efforts to help them, warned Oxfam today. A $139m UN fund set up to respond the most urgent post-Hurricane Matthew needs is 38 percent underfunded.

People in the South and Grande Anse departments on the southern peninsula of Haiti are particularly at risk. A very poor harvest is expected in January and February as Matthew wiped out 80 per cent of crops, drowned most livestock, destroyed critical infrastructure and decimated the country’s bread-basket. In the most affected areas, 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence farming to feed their families and make a living.

Before the hurricane struck, rural populations were already struggling to cope with a severe drought that had devastated crops. The hurricane also hit at the worst possible time as farmers were getting ready to harvest the little they had managed to produce.

Damien Berrendorf, country director of Oxfam in Haiti, said: “Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in a matter of hours but has created a long-term catastrophe that will take the country years to recover from. The Haitian government, donors and aid agencies need to act - jointly, coherently and urgently - to prioritize food security and nutrition in the next three to six months to stop people dying from hunger.”

Official figures from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show that 806,000 people are at an extreme level of food insecurity, and that an estimated 750,000 people do not have safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing.

Oxfam is calling on donor countries to deliver on their aid promises and ensure the full funding of the UN appeal.

Notes to editors

  • Wednesday January 4 marks the three months since Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. Matthew was one of the biggest storms recorded in the Caribbean and has caused the biggest humanitarian emergency in Haiti since the earthquake six years ago. The country experienced winds of 265 km/h with the eye of the hurricane passing over the southwest coast of Haiti. The scale and impact of the hurricane has been devastating for 1.4 million Haitians, particularly those living in the country's southern peninsula.
  • Oxfam is working in three areas affected by Hurricane Matthew and has helped over 76,000 Haitians to date. Hygiene kits were distributed to 11,320 people and 30,520 people received food supplies.
  • Oxfam’s response aims to save the lives of vulnerable affected people and increase resilience to future shocks – with a particular focus on women. The priorities have been to provide access to clean water and sanitation, to help rebuild people’s livelihoods and to provide basic services and infrastructure.
  • Oxfam has been working in Haiti since 1978. Our programs focus on: water sanitation and public health; disaster response and preparedness; reconstruction; economic development; and protection, which includes women’s rights, gender equity, and the prevention of gender-based violence. Above all, Haitians leading the way will be the key to the country’s successful long-term recovery.  We use a rights-based approach to make sure our programs are as collaborative and effective as possible. We carry out all our programs in conjunction with civil society organizations and the Haitian government.
  • Images from Haiti:  http://imagenesypalabras.oxfamintermon.org/?c=7127&k=6d384fc9b9

Oxfam needs your help to reach the people in Haiti who are worst affected by Hurricane Matthew. Your support can help our team deliver life essentials such as clean water and hygiene kits. Please donate.

Contact information

Dominique Févry-Gilliand in Haiti: +509 4896 3101 /dominique.fevry@oxfam.org

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfaminHaiti.

Haiti Hurricane Matthew response - how you can help.