ROME Nov 22 Growing food insecurity in Haiti
after Hurricane Sandy risks sparking more social tension, the
United Nations Food Agency warned on Thursday, calling for food,
farm and transport investment to boost the country's resilience
to climate shocks.
Three natural disasters have hit the Caribbean island this
year, including a drought in the summer and Hurricanes Isaac and
Sandy. More than 40 percent of Haiti's harvest was destroyed and
losses of about $254 million incurred, U.N. estimates say.
About 60 percent of Haiti's population live in rural areas
and more than half of those are now at risk of acute food
insecurity, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation
"This vulnerability could be a source of destabilisation: if
we don't address it, there will be tensions," Laurent Thomas,
the FAO's assistant director-general, told Reuters.
The past several months have seen a series of nationwide
protests and general strikes over the rising cost of living.
Even before Hurricane Sandy hit, residents complained that food
prices were too high.
A spike in food prices triggered violent demonstrations and
political instability in April 2008.
A U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti was recently extended for
another year, but the number of soldiers and police officers
will be reduced by about 1,700 to 8,800 by June 2013.
Haiti is still struggling to recover from a strong January
2010 earthquake that killed about 300,000 people and left more
than 1.5 million homeless.
FAO and the Haitian government have launched an appeal to
raise $74 million over the next 12 months. They have so far
secured $2.7 million, with a further $5-6 million in the
pipeline, they said.
Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly and FAO Director
General Jose Graziano da Silva met on Thursday. They said
afterwards that investments in the food and farm sectors as well
as in transport infrastructure would help boost Haiti's
resilience to climate shocks.
"The problems that we are currently experiencing can be seen
as opportunities for investors," Martelly said. "This means
roads, ports, airports ... and investment in the agriculture
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Andrew Osborn)