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Friday, November 2, 2012

Crops devastated, food crisis looms in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy

At least 54 people were killed by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti due to the torrential rains, flooding and destruction of essential bridges and roads. Many Concrete homes and tent camps in Port-au-Prince setup after the 2010 earthquake are largely destroyed leaving up to 18,000 families homeless according to Haitian authorities.

Substantial crop loss occurred due to the Hurricane winds and flooding, threatening hunger and famine in coming weeks and months. Staple crops such as bananas and breadfruit were severely damaged by hurricane Sandy. "We'll have famine in the coming days," Kechner Toussaint, the Abricots mayor, reportedly said. "It's an agricultural disaster."

Related: Superstorm Sandy a wakeup call on climate change for the USA? | UN Reliefweb: UN relief agency estimates 1.8 million Haitians have been affected by Hurricane Sandy

Up to 70% of crops in the south of the country are estimated to have been destroyed by hurricane Sandy including bananas, plantains and maize reported the BBC.

"The storm took everything away," said Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques, the agriculture ministry's director for the southern department as reported by Al Jezeera, "Everything the peasants had in reserve - corn, tubers - all of it was devastated. Some people had already prepared their fields for winter crops and those were devastated."

With so many living in makeshift and squalid conditions in Haiti outbreaks of cholera and other diseases are likely, aid agencies have warned.

In a first detailed assessment of the disaster in Haiti, the United Nations relief organisation estimated up to 1.8 million people were affected by Hurricane Sandy with food security an urgent concern. UN humanitarian relief official, Jens Laerke, warned that up to two million people are at risk of malnutrition. Mr Laerke works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Al Jazeera report: Haiti appeals for foreign aid after Storm Sandy

Sandy killed another 11 people in Cuba where 35,000 homes were reported damaged or destroyed. Santiago in the eastern province was the worst hit area with buildings damaged and crops destroyed. Oxfam Canada are now reporting "About 1.5 million of the 11 million inhabitants of the country are directly affected. More than 150,000 homes, housing about 600,000 residents, were damaged."

Crop damage and deaths also occurred in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and in the Bahamas as the tropical cyclone moved north through the Caribbean and up the east coast of the United States.

While there has been substantial media focus on the death and destruction in the United States, the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the poor of the Caribbean has been largely overshadowed and under-reported.

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