After the storm, people are now threatened with hunger: The heavy rains that accompanied Hurricane Sandy have caused serious damages to harvests in Haiti and Cuba. While clean-up activities are in full swing, streets are being cleared of debris and houses are being reconstructed, people are also facing the prospect of a hunger crisis.
Freshly seeded crops are suffocating under a thick layer of mud, and seedlings are washed away. The population is no longer able to live off the products grown on the fields, but is forced to draw on supplies. Food is becoming scarce in both countries.
In Haiti, the situation after the storm is worse than initially thought: 70 percent of the harvest has been destroyed. "Most people survived the storm, but now they are threatened with hunger", says Dirk Günther, Welthungerhilfe's Regional Director.
Haiti's government asking for help
Following the earthquake two and a half years ago, people already had to fight the effects of a drought and tropical storm Isaac in October of this year. After Sandy, families are now using up their last supplies and have no more reserves.
"Without outside help, they will not be able to survive until the next big harvest in May", says Günther. Given the difficult situation, Haiti's government has called a state of emergency and asked for international help.
Cuba is also facing a serious food crisis. The hurricane has destroyed areas that are important for the country's central food supply. Based on initial estimates, more than 150,000 hectares of agricultural land has been destroyed, including avocado plants, sugar cane and banana plants, and fruit trees.
Welthungerhilfe is assisting victims of the storm
Welthungerhilfe is assisting victims in Haiti and Cuba with reconstruction activities. It distributes building materials for repairing houses, as well as hygiene kits to prevent the spread of cholera.
In Haiti, people who are helping with clean-up activities receive a wage so they are able to buy food. Subsequently, farmers will be provided with seed and tools to prepare for the next seeding cycle.