Pregnant women and girls among those most impacted in Haiti’s hunger crisis

20 July 2022

Haiti is facing a hunger crisis and women and girls are paying the price. This is because they do not have the economic means to survive, leaving them vulnerable to all kinds of violence.

Mirlande, 23, says that the hunger crisis is causing her family to suffer.
Mirlande, 23, says that the hunger crisis is causing her family to suffer.

Many women who are heads of households, breastfeeding and pregnant suffer from malnutrition and are among the most vulnerable populations during this crisis. Girls and women are the main victims of physical, verbal, psychological and sexual violence and some are even forced to have sex as their only means of subsistence.

“I am pregnant and I am malnourished, because I don’t get food. Sometimes I don’t eat anything for a day, I buy food on credit or neighbours give me something to eat, but I have to give it to my son because he doesn’t have the same level of stamina as me” said Locita,  a 24-year-old single mother who lives with her father and three-year-old son in a one room house and shares a kitchen with other people in the area.

Haiti is eight hungriest country in the world

Haiti is the eighth hungriest country in the world and has one of the highest levels of food insecurity, with 22% of children undernourished. According to the latest update of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 4.3 million people in Haiti are facing hunger, making it the hungriest country in the Americas.

This is the consequence of several events of political, economic and social instability in recent years such as the assassination of President Moïse in July 2021 and the 7.2 earthquake that struck the south of the country a month later. The population is living with gang violence, food insecurity, and civil unrest. These problems are compounded by rising food, fuel and fertiliser prices due to the conflict in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Girls are now among the main victims of the political and insecurity situation in Haiti. When families go hungry, girls are often forced to take care of younger siblings so that parents can work or find food. Too often, they are forced to drop out of school, which jeopardizes their future and increases the risk of violence,” said Débora Cóbar, Plan International’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

International community must step up to reach targets to end hunger

And the situation is not getting any better. According to a recent United Nations report, the number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021. The report states that the world is likely to fall well short of targets to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.

“Governments must work to implement the Global Hunger Compact by providing urgent funding now and ensuring age and gender support within this humanitarian crisis. And while improving reporting on the implementation of their commitments,” adds Cóbar.

Plan International has activated a response with a gender focus to provide support to children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and others. The intervention consists mainly of cash transfers for household feeding, water storage kits, the improvement of collective water systems and water purification tablets.  In addition, the planning and implementation of awareness-raising campaigns on issues of positive parenting, prevention of gender-based violence, food insecurity, among other things.

Interventions focus on the 47 most affected communities and the new hunger response plan will start in the southeast department of Haiti.