COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – October 16, 2023 – With some of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world, Haiti’s children are among the hungriest. More than 1 in 5 Haitian children, 22 percent, are chronically undernourished. With growing instability in the form of gang violence, skyrocketing food prices, and the lingering effects of the devastating earthquakes, children in Haiti desperately need support. That’s why, this World Food Day, Compassion International is urging the global neighborhood to remember Haiti’s children.
“We have all these elements that have piled up and we have a situation that is a perfect storm in Haiti,” says Abbel Joseph, senior manager of program support for Compassion Haiti. “The food crisis is really urgent because we are already a vulnerable country. We have a socioeconomic situation that is already dire, even before these more recent events in our country.”
Conflict is the top cause of hunger worldwide, according to the UN. In Haiti, thousands of people are cut off from their food supplies and livelihoods because of extreme gang violence. Gangs exercise significant control over food access and distribution. For example, Haiti imports half its food, but gang-run checkpoints and blockades prevent much of it from getting to households that desperately need it.
Extreme gang violence has also resulted in alarming increases of sexual violence, killing, and kidnapping.
Approximately 4.9 million people are struggling to feed themselves (World Food Program), and UNICEF projects that over 115,000 Haitian children under the age of five will suffer from life-threatening malnutrition this year, a 30 percent increase from 2022.
The reverberating impact of gang violence, coupled with inflation driving up the price of food, has resulted in a desperate situation for many households. “It’s really hard for the people,” notes Joseph. “Even if families had any kind of savings, it’s all been used on food. They have nothing left. We need to come alongside them to support them.”
Single mothers like Acelie know this struggle firsthand. She says her biggest daily challenge is figuring out how to feed her family, and she once considered taking drastic measures like sending her children to an orphanage that could provide for them. Thankfully, Acelie and her children are receiving much-needed support from Compassion’s local church partner. Through the Compassion program, her children receive nutritional and educational support, along with support for other well-being initiatives.
Acelie also receives food packs from the program, which she often shares with other hungry children in her neighborhood. “When children from other families in my neighborhood ask me for food, I cannot say no,” she shares. “I stay positive that God will make a way.”
In Haiti, and other hunger-affected countries, Compassion’s church partners are providing immediate relief in the form of food packs and cash transfers and longer-term support with seeds, fertilizer, livestock, and training on how to build and maintain home gardens.
Since June 2022, Compassion’s church partners in Haiti have delivered food packs and cash transfers, as well as long-term support, to more than 7,200 families, serving an estimated 31,000 children, family members, and caregivers. But the need is outstripping the resources available. Of the 29 countries Compassion works in, Haiti currently has the largest number of children waiting for sponsors.
This World Food Day, Compassion is asking individuals to answer hunger with hope by sponsoring a child in Haiti, creating long-term food security for both children and their families, or donating towards food packs, which feed a family of five for a month for just $50.
To learn more about Compassion’s response to Haiti and other hunger-affected countries during the global food crisis, visit compassion.com/globalfight. To interview a Compassion representative about the current situation in Haiti, please contact Allison Wilburn at [email protected].