A father, mother and their six children stand outside a dilapidated home.
Hunger and poverty in Haiti impact Yfaniel Pierre, center, and his family.

The Devastating Effects of Hunger in Haiti and What We're Doing to Help

Without healthy and accessible food, we cannot work, learn or take care of our families. That is the situation Yfaniel Pierre faces. This dedicated father dreamed of a better life for his wife and six children, but he didn’t earn enough money through farming to afford even the most basic necessities. And with each storm that passed through Haiti, their dirt-floor shack crumbled even more as rain poured through the mud and sticks that barely held the roof together.

A Haitian boy and girl stand with bowls of rice
Hunger disproportionately affects children in Haiti.

Effects of Hunger in Haiti

Haiti has one of the highest populations in the Caribbean. Tragically, families there are suffering through an acute hunger crisis and food shortage. Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to reducing hunger in Haiti by providing food to the poorest of the poor in regions where it is needed most.

Hunger in Haiti Hurts Children’s Health

Children like Yfaniel’s are disproportionately affected by hunger in Haiti — and early childhood malnutrition has devastating lifelong effects. Nearly half of Haiti’s population is undernourished, and 10 percent of children are underweight, while one in five children under age 5 are stunted.1, 2, 3

Anemia is also a big issue for children in Haiti. About one-third of children and women are anemic due to low iron consumption. Anemia causes dizziness, shortness of breath and fatigue, and it may lead to pregnancy complications.4

Join the movement to feed the hungry through the love of Christ!

Hunger Impacts Education and Jobs in Haiti

The effects of hunger go beyond health. Chronic malnutrition makes it difficult to complete an education, which has devastating effects on long-term job potential. Hunger has been linked to difficulties with memory and behavioral conditions that make learning a challenge. The tragic result is a new generation trapped in the cycle of poverty — and without intervention, the cycle is doomed to repeat itself.

Related: Restoring Hope Through Education in Haiti.

A Haitian man scoops up cornmeal
Emergency feeding programs supplement diets in Haiti to prevent some of the worst effects of chronic hunger.

How Haitians Battle the Food Crisis

Haitians, especially those living in rural areas, are in desperate need of food. Families like Yfaniel’s are forced to cut back on already-meager portions and sustain themselves on just one meal a day. When adults don’t receive the nutrition they need, they become sick and unable to earn wages to support their families. To afford food, parents sometimes have to send their children to work jobs in notoriously unsafe conditions.

Please, stand with Cross Catholic Outreach to help Haitian families before it’s too late.

Donate to Provide Food for the Poor

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Poverty and Hunger Statistics in Haiti

  • Population: 2 million (2021 est.)
  • GDP per capita: $2,905 ($62,530 in the U.S.)
  • Children chronically malnourished: 22%
  • Infant mortality per 1,000 live births: 29 (5.22 in the U.S.)
  • Population lacking access to modern sanitation: 2 million
  • Life expectancy: 65 years (80 in the U.S.)
Sources: CIA World Factbook, USAID
Trash is piled on the side of the road in a Haitian slum
Many Haitian families struggle to survive in unsanitary and impoverished conditions such as these in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

Causes of Hunger in Haiti

Hunger in Haiti is rooted in poverty. Several factors contribute to keeping Haitian families in poverty.

Hunger Tied to Haiti’s Colonial History

The foundation of Haiti’s hunger crisis can be traced back to its ties to French colonialism.4 In 1804, Haiti became the first country in the Western Hemisphere to be led by former slaves, which intimidated slaveholding nations, including the United States. At the same time, France forced Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs — the modern equivalent of $21 billion — to repay French slave owners who lost “their property.” Haiti was shunned by many countries during this critical transition, leading to a cycle of debt, corruption, political instability, and widespread poverty and hunger.

Agricultural Challenges Cause Hunger in Haiti

Although agriculture is a prominent industry in Haiti, the country is unable to provide enough food to feed its own people. Unproductive land, an increasing population, and poor sanitation processes contribute to this phenomenon.3 Yfaniel’s family and other farmers here are often left to rely on sparse rainfall rather than irrigation to support their crops, and most of their staple food, rice, is imported.

Natural Disasters and Deforestation Increase Hunger in Haiti

Approximately 96 percent of Haiti’s population is vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change factors, including hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, floods and landslides.5 Extensive deforestation has occurred over recent decades, placing farmland at a high risk for soil erosion, with fields unsuitable for agriculture. Natural disasters destroy crops, homes and businesses that support the local economy, driving communities even deeper into poverty.

Priest raises the Eucharist at Mass.
Fr. Meaux celebrates Mass for students at the Kobonal Haiti Mission school.

Help the Church Address Haiti’s Hunger Crisis

Father Meaux established the Kobonal Haiti Mission over 30 years ago and has expanded it from addressing malnutrition among the elderly to even broader goals for food, water, housing, education and microenterprise for the poorest of the poor in this region. A month’s worth of cornmeal, oil and beans can mean the difference between health and malnutrition because of the challenging way of life in the Central Plateau region of Haiti.

Please consider showing your love for the poor and supporting our mission to help feed the most vulnerable people of Kobonal. Every little bit helps fight child hunger in Haiti and gives families the hope and faith in God they need to thrive.

Donate Monthly to Provide Lasting Hope

Every month (on the 25th)

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Sources

  1. Haiti Nutrition Profile – U.S. Agency for International Development. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/USAID-Haiti_NCP.pdf.
  2. von Grebmer, K., Bernstein, J., Alders, R., Dar, O., Kock, R., Rampa, F., Wiemers, M., Acheampong, K, Hanano, A., Higgins, B., Ní Chéilleachair, R., Foley, C., Gitter, S., Ekstrom, K., Fritschel, H. (2020). 2020 Global Hunger Index: One Decade to Zero Hunger: Linking Health and Sustainable Food Systems.Bonn: Welthungerhilfe; and Dublin: Concern Worldwide. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.globalhungerindex.org/haiti.html.
  3. The World Factbook, Haiti – U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (2021, June 9). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/haiti/
  4. Seraphin, M., Xinguang, C., Ag Ayoya, M., Ngnie-Teta, I., Boldon, E., Mamadoultaibou, A., Saint-Fleur, J., Pierre, I. (2017, Jan. 23). Childhood anemia in Rural Haiti: the potential role of community health workers. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683206/.
  5. Labrador, R. (2018, March 12). Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/haitis-troubled-path-development.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures to provide food to the destitute incurred through June 30, 2021, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.