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Last updated: 20 November, 2008 - Published 16:11 GMT
 
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Haiti's constant battle with hunger
 
Haiti flooding
The flooding devastated agriculture in Haiti
Malnutrition has long been a problem in Haiti.

But it has got worse this year, particularly among children, because of the battering Haiti has received from four successive hurricanes.

The United Nations last week highlighted the case of Erneso, who was only twelve years old when he died.

Like many other children in Baie d'Orange, a community in Belle Anse in south-eastern Haiti, he was suffering from malnutrition.

After not having eaten for more than three weeks, his body got too weak to fight diseases.

The problem is that crops were devastated by the storms.

Field ambulance

To make matters worse, there are no health centres in the area.

That's why the international medical charity, Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) has installed a temporary field ambulance in Baie d'Orange.

The organisation says that every second child it sees is malnourished.

Généus Lissage, an area coordinator in the district, said that more than 25 children had died and many others who were transferred to the hospitals.

The UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said this week that it is in a race against time to rehabilitate Haiti's agriculture.

IFAD said in a statement that more crop failure will mean even more hunger for Haiti.

It said more than 240,000 Haitian smallholders are receiving a package of vegetable seeds, cereal seeds, sweet potato and banana plants to help farmers start planting again and ensure more food in the local markets.

Alongside this is an innovative project, using a prepaid remittance card in the United States -- essentially a bag of seeds and a card that cuts the costs of sending cash home.

Food prices

The Haitian diaspora in the US has long been a lifeline for their compatriots back home, far exceeding foreign direct investment or development aid.

The hurricanes haven't been the only problem which has impacted on agriculture and its ability to feed the Haitian people.

Over the past four years, food prices have increased by an average of 18 percent annually, affecting in particular staples such as rice and maize as well as beans, oil and other basic foods.

Both rural and urban populations have been severely affected by the crisis which has resulted in widespread hunger, economic crisis and social and political unrest.

 
 
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