LEOGANE, HAITI - Gabriel Duvalesse squatted slightly as he prepared to push 50 gallons (190 liters) of cooking oil in an old wheelbarrow to an outdoors market an hour away so he could earn $1.
It was his first job in seven days as deadly protests paralyze Haiti's economy and shutter businesses and schools. Opposition leaders and thousands of supporters are demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise amid anger over government corruption, ballooning inflation and scarcity of fuel and other basic goods.
Seventeen people have been reported killed and nearly 200 injured in the protests.
The political turmoil is hitting cities and towns outside the capital of Port-au-Prince especially hard, forcing non-government organizations to suspend aid as barricades of large rocks and burning tires cut off the flow of goods between the city and the countryside. The crisis is deepening poverty in places such as Leogane, the epicenter of Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake.
"We are starving," said 28-year-old Duvalesse, who has been unable to work. "I had to make $2 last one week."
The United Nations said that before the protests even began, some 2.6 million people across Haiti were vulnerable to food shortages, adding that roadblocks have severely impacted some humanitarian programs. On Sept. 16, the World Food Program was forced to suspend all food deliveries to schools as demonstrations started.
Meanwhile, cash transfers to some 37,000 people in need were postponed.
U.N. officials also said that private transporters are reluctant to deliver goods given the security situation, a problem that Leogane business owner Vangly Germeille knows well.
He owns a wholesale company that sells items including rice, soap, cooking oil and cereal to small markets. But his warehouse is nearly empty and he struggles to find truck drivers willing to go to markets to deliver the goods because of thieves and barricades.
"It's an enormous economic loss," said Germeille, a father of two who is thinking of moving to the Dominican Republic if things don't improve soon. ``If there's no way to make a living here, I can't stay.''
Rice, coconuts, milk and diapers are among the dozens of goods that people in this coastal community of more than 200,000 inhabitants say are hard to find since the protests began in mid-September.
On Saturday, a grocery store near the town's center opened briefly to sell rice, said 40-year-old IT engineer Sony Raymond.
"In less than three hours it was gone," he said. "Leogane is basically paralyzed."
The protests and barricades are increasingly isolating already struggling communities across Haiti, including those like Barriere Jeudi, where amateur bull fights on weekends provide some distraction from people's financial problems.
Bruinel Jean-Louis, who repairs refrigerators and stoves, said he hasn't been able to find much work because he can't travel to find the parts he needs.
"It takes a very long time, and that also makes me suffer," he said as several bulls brayed behind him.
To make up for the financial shortfall, he sells halters for horses.
In a small mountain village near the coastal city of Jacmel, some phones began ringing at 5 a.m. on Sunday as friends and family let each other know that a gas station would open that day and there was a limited supply.