As the hurricane season officially opens, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today outlined emergency readiness plans to help Haiti meet the challenges of potentially devastating rains and tropical storms. “We are very concerned at predictions that this hurricane season will be a bad one,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, who recently returned from Haiti. “We are urgently getting food stocks and other life-saving supplies in thirty-one strategic positions for the most vulnerable people and locations”.
WFP, in cooperation with the Haitian Department of Civil Protection, is undertaking a series of measures designed to minimize the impact on food security of any storms that might strike the island nation in the coming months. WFP’s food and cash for work programmes are also helping communities prepare and protect themselves, for example, by creating flood barriers and rehabilitating canals.
Sheeran added that the four tropical storms that battered Haiti in 2008 showed the extent to which roads in Haiti become impassable when storms strike.
Among the measures taken:
▪Two million humanitarian daily rations and 1,000 metric tons of high energy biscuits are currently being pre-positioned in 31 key locations around the country.
▪ Enough food to feed 1.3 million people for 45 days is being placed in secure warehouses in 14 of WFP’s field and sub-offices.
▪Six hurricane-proof portable warehouses are being erected in locations, mostly in the south and east, where no permanent warehouses exist.
▪ Alternative transport systems are being put in place to bypass mountain roads that may become blocked by mudslides, including the use of containerized cargo at Jacmel and Gonaives ports and the use of a tugboat and barge capable of transporting food and other life-saving supplies and equipment, even cars and trucks.
▪ Satellite and other remote sensing technologies are being employed to identify vulnerable locations and populations, such as the 45,000 people in the Gonaives area susceptible to large-scale flooding in the event of a major storm.
WFP’s extensive logistics capacity, including transport by land, sea and air, will continue to be available for use by the entire humanitarian community.
“Preparing now will help ensure that the efforts of Haitians to bravely rebuild their lives and livelihoods are not undermined by nature,” added Sheeran.