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Concerned About Famine, Grassroots International and Haitian Groups Call for Greater Hurricane Relief Via Haitian Organizations

For immediate release

(Boston, MA, November 3, 2016)

Concerned that famine could strike Haiti if farmers aren’t able to immediately replant after Hurricane Matthew destroyed their crops, Grassroots International and other Haitian groups are urging the international donor community to direct hurricane relief through Haitian-led organizations and networks.

“Haiti’s capacity to produce enough food has been decimated. Haitian farmers urgently want to replant their fields in order to feed themselves and their communities. And unless they do so, the nation faces famine in the months – maybe even the years – ahead,” says Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International which works directly with local groups operating in the hardest hit areas of Haiti.

Grassroots International is a Boston-based foundation with decades-long partnerships with Haitian organizations – particularly in the rural areas most impacted by Hurricane Matthew – working to eliminate hunger, build food sovereignty, and promote climate justice. In 2010, Grassroots International was one of the few international funders whose support reached communities on the forefront of responding to the crisis. That know-how and commitment to Haitian-led movements and organizations is one of the things that make us unique.

According to the Haiti Inter-NGO Liaison Association, 80% of the country’s food supply vanished overnight with the hurricane.  Matters were made worse recently when four days of intense rain storms caused extensive flooding, erosion of fertile soils, and an alarming spike in an already worsening cholera crisis.

«Hurricane Matthew is the worst disaster in the history of Haiti for peasants,» says Chavannes Jean Baptiste, of the National Congress of the Peasant Movement of Papaye, a peasant organization of more than 100,000 members and a partner of Grassroots International.

Grassroots International just delivered emergency funding to the following local networks and organizations in Haiti working primarily in the Southwest and Northwest regions which were hit hardest by the hurricane:

  • Tet Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (Tet Kole):  distributing seeds to replace farmers’ seed stocks destroyed by the hurricane and recent flooding.

Rosnel Jean Baptiste from Tet Kole explains: «Haiti is a very vulnerable country — and because of our vulnerability hurricanes do not pass by without doing terrible damage.»

  • The Acul-du-Nord Peasant Movement (MPA): distribute quick growing crop seeds to reduce the risk of famine in the next three months including bean seeds, sweet potato, cassava, plantain and vegetable seeds.
  • Haitian Platform for the Advocacy of Alternative Development (PAPDA): provide farm technical support focusing on cultivating climate-resilient crops and advancing agroecological farming techniques.
  • Hands Together for Liberation and Community Advancement (MULAK): distribute emergency food assistance as well as provide seeds for quick-yielding crops, such as plantains and yams, to help the community stave off famine and re-establish sources of livelihood.
  • Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH):  launch a national solidarity appeal for material aid in response to the devastating hurricane. The materials will be used to rehabilitate or rebuild homes, feed and clothe people, and provide agricultural inputs (seeds and tools) to those affected in southern Haiti. The organizations also seek assistance to refurnish offices and key community radio stations in the region.
  • Regional Coordination of Southeast Organizations (CROSE/KROS):  distribute staple foods such as breadfruit and plantain to families in district of Lavaneau which was devastated.
  • National Congress of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPNKP): provide emergency humanitarian assistance (food, water, medicine for cholera, clothing, temporary homes, etc.), and reconstruction (climate-resilient farming assistance, ecological restoration for farmlands and eroded lands, climate-resilient housing reconstruction)Interviews may be available with Haitian organizational leaders working in the affected areas.

Contact: Carol Schachet, Grassroots International, w: 617-524-1400, carol [at] GrassrootsOnline.org    www.GrassrootsOnline.org