Haiti: Between a New Hurricane Season and the Last
BY: MINA REMY
This year forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with “ a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms, of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes, including 2 to 4 major hurricanes. An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.” In 2016 NOAA accurately predicted an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, which included Hurricane Matthew.
This news doesn’t bode well for Haiti, and particularly people living in Southern Haiti which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew on October 6, 2016. 10 months since Matthew, people are still living in precarious conditions in Southern Haiti. Very few have been able to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Based on reports from the ground, Southern Haiti is ill-prepared for this hurricane season.
Honestly, the conditions are such that a hurricane or severe storm doesn’t even have to make landfall in Southern Haiti. Associated wind and rain from a passing hurricane or storm would cause nearly as much damage. In a recent article in the Miami Herald, residents in the hardest hit areas decried being/feeling abandoned by the Haitian government and international community.
Local residents are looking for help with clearing heavy debris from farmland and planting edible perennials (breadfruit, coconut, plantain, mango, etc.) all of which are staples in the local diet. Without such support, Haiti’s food sovereignty remains further weakened as Southern Haiti is the country’s food basket. Since Matthew many international organizations have rung the alarm on prolonged food insecurity in Southern Haiti, and the associated malnutrition that will result especially in children under 5 years old and pregnant women.
Grassroots International continues to work with our partners and allies in Haiti whose members quickly assessed the post-hurricane situation, and rolled out emergency assistance in hard to reach areas. However, the need continues to outweigh their limited resources. Our partners and allies remain committed to Southern Haiti’s agricultural recovery because their members livelihoods depend on it. For them, Haiti’s food sovereignty runs through Southern Haiti.