News / USA

Haiti’s Food Needs Still Urgent 10 Weeks After Earthquake

Haitian officials say less food aid and more jobs are needed to get the economy running again.

Some major organizations are scaling back donation efforts beginning April 1st.

But many Haitians are still in urgent need of food.

Suzette Etienne spent eight days in the hospital after the earthquake buried her in her house in Port-au-Prince.

“After two and a half months, I am just starting to walk,” she says.

To escape the ruined city, her brother carried her onto a bus to Gonaives.  Arriving without friends or family in the city, she searched for food and shelter.

She found Fleuris Edlene, head of a small local charity called, Initiative for Economic Development of Independent Women as an Alternative (IDEFIA).

After the earthquake, Edlene says, “I went on a local radio station and said I had a four-room place that was available for anyone who needed help.”

About a 150 people came - so many that some are sleeping on the roof.

For the first few weeks, she fed them all out of her own pocket, along with donations from local people.   But now, the community has exhausted all the generosity it can afford, and the food is running out.

“An organization donated 25 bags of rice and 25 bottles of water, but they are gone,” she says. “It does not take long to use up these supplies.”

She says soon she may have to send her guests to live in an empty field nearby, because she cannot bear to look them in the eye when they go hungry.

Haitian authorities say they want donors to focus on creating jobs, because giving away food is disrupting the local economy.

But more than two months after the earthquake, many Haitians appear to still need urgent help finding food.  Simply meeting their needs - without further damaging the economy - will not be easy.

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