New LWR initiative to grow food, lessen vulnerability in storm-battered Haiti

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Baltimore, November 7, 2008 - Lutheran World Relief is announcing a new initiative in Haiti in response to the devastating rash of hurricanes that hit the small island nation over the summer.

"This program seeks to help the people of Haiti address both their short and long-term needs following this turbulent hurricane season," says Michael Watt, regional director for Latin America at Lutheran World Relief.

During the months of August and September Haiti was successively struck by four hurricanes-Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The storms devastated the already struggling country, most notably in the area of Gonaives, the "rice bowl" of Haiti. The storms have claimed a total of 793 lives and displaced 158,600 people. A million more people are reportedly affected by the loss of livelihoods, crop and livestock destruction, and water contamination.

LWR and our partner organization on the ground in Haiti, World Neighbors, will focus on 79 communities in Artibonite department and will help 600 farm families begin to recover the loss of crops such as avocado and fruit trees. The project will establish a community seed bank stocked with seeds that produce crops quickly, enabling farmers to meet short-term food demand. In addition, the community will receive training on emergency preparedness. The initiative also seeks to help 5,000 families access potable water sources through shared water filter systems and rebuild houses for families left homeless by the storms.

"By helping recover agricultural livelihoods and developing emergency action plans we hope to help the people of Haiti become less vulnerable than they were before," says Watt. "This program will improve people's lives long-term."

Lutheran World Relief is accepting donations on behalf of Haiti/Caribbean hurricane relief. You may donate online at lwr.org, by phone at by phone at 1-800-597-5972; or by mail at P.O. Box 17061 Baltimore, MD 21298-9832, USA.