Between August 15 and September 15, two tropical storms and two hurricanes struck Haiti, causing enormous damage due to high winds, overflowing rivers, and flooding. The departments most affected were Artibonite, the West, and the four departments on the southern peninsula (Figure 1). The storms killed at least 423 people, destroyed eight major bridges and more than 10,000 houses, led to the loss of land, crops and livestock, and damaged many potable water supply lines.
Food security, which was already precarious due to the high price of staple foods, has deteriorated considerably since the storms. Currently, approximately three million people are food insecure, an increase of 20 percent in one month.
National and international partners quickly mobilized to help victims and begin the most urgent repairs. Humanitarian organizations have coordinated their activities well, especially through "clusters" for sector-wide dialogue. Ideally, the emergency aid phase would extend until July 2009, when the first harvests not directly affected by the storms will take place. However, recent demobilization by various partners has been observed, even though economic and human recovery, and halting environmental degradation, are immediate, but long-term priorities. Affected areas will see a particularly difficult hunger season in November and December 2008.
Given this situation, the following recommendations are made to the government and its national and international partners: 1) increase and better coordinate emergency response and rapid recovery activities in the areas most affected by higher staple food prices and the recent weather disasters; 2) develop and implement an extensive environmental restoration/protection and household vulnerability reduction program; and 3) improve risk and disaster management to improve response systems to major catastrophes.