Persistent drought threatens millions with hunger in Haiti - U.N.

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
14 PHOTOS
Haiti drought and malnutrition
See Gallery
Persistent drought threatens millions with hunger in Haiti - U.N.
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, Carole Joseph holds her toddler twins, Angelo, left, and Angela, after visiting a local health center to examine her children for signs of malnutrition, in Oriani, Haiti. The 28-year-old mother of four, is among roughly 1.5 million Haitians who can't get nearly enough nutrition because of a yearslong drought that has spoiled harvests in her small mountain village and across large sections of the countryside. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, a man waters his onion garden in Fonds Verrettes, Haiti. For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery. Officials say more rural families are being forced to join the decades-long exodus to cities. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, vendors cull through bunches of carrots, to sell at a local street market in Oriani, Haiti. A drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland deeper into misery. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, Angelo, left and his twin sister Angela, crawl on the earthen floor of their front porch in Oriani, Haiti. A drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland deeper into misery. Only shriveled carrots and potatoes grow in their mother's small vegetable plot. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, community health volunteer Sylvio Fils-Aime examines a child for signs of malnutrition, in Oriani, Haiti. For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery. Diminishing calories means more children are vulnerable to infections like measles and any number of other diseases. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, a man pours water he collected from a nearby river, pictured in background, into a larger receptacle, in Fonds Verrettes, Haiti. For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery. Last year's crop yields were the worst in 35 years in a country where more than two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture, many using archaic hand tools. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, community health volunteer Sylvio Fils-Aime examines a child for signs of malnutrition, in Oriani, Haiti. Many Haitians routinely go to bed hungry. But the impact of a yearlong drought is so severe that Haiti is facing "unprecedented food insecurity," according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, residents carry buckets filled with water they collected from the Soliette river, to irrigate their vegetable plots, in Fonds Verrettes, Haiti. Economist Kesner Pharel says local agricultural production has contracted so severely over the last two years that 70 percent of the crops consumed in Haiti are now imported, up from roughly 50 percent in the past. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 20, 2016 photo, a boat sits near Lake Azuei in Thomazeau, Haiti. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
This Feb. 20, 2016 photo shows the dry, cracked lakebed of Trou Caiman, in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. A drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland deeper into misery. An estimated 1.5 million people are going hungry as crop yields fall to lowest levels in 35 years in a country where two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
This Feb. 20, 2016 photo shows the dry, cracked lakebed of Trou Caiman, in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. A drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland deeper into misery. An estimated 1.5 million people are going hungry as crop yields fall to lowest levels in 35 years in a country where two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 20, 2016 photo, residents siphon water from a waterhole in the lakebed of Lastique lake, in Fonds Parisiens, Haiti. For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 15, 2016 photo, Roodymanche Lomane plants potatoes in his small vegetable plot, in Oriani, Haiti. A strong El Nino weather phenomenon that's been disrupting weather patterns across the globe, is leaving many places in Latin America and the Caribbean stricken by drought. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

BOGOTA - Around 3.6 million people in Haiti are struggling to feed themselves as three consecutive years of drought have ruined harvests and raised food prices, worsening hunger among the poor, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti cannot produce enough food for its 10.4 million people in normal times, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians rely on international food aid to survive.

Acute water shortages caused by prolonged drought, made worse by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have cut food supplies and hit subsistence farmers hard. Three out of four Haitians live on less than $2 a day.

"Without rain for the 2016 spring season, farmers will lose their fourth consecutive harvest on which they normally depend to feed their families," Wendy Bigham, WFP's deputy country director in Haiti, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The main 2015 harvest fell below average, with losses of up to 70 percent in some places, the WFP said. "In some areas of Haiti, up to 70 percent of the population is facing hunger."

A recent study by the Haitian government and the U.N. Children's agency (UNICEF) found that "malnutrition rates are above emergency levels in several communes," the WFP said.

The food crisis comes at a time of political uncertainty and social unrest after Michel Martelly stepped down as president last week without an elected successor, leaving a deeply divided country in the hands of a disputed interim government.

Nearly 500,000 schoolchildren across Haiti rely on school meals provided by the WFP for their daily meal, and school meals make up the largest food safety net in the country.

The WFP has distributed food aid, including rice, sugar, oil and salt, to 120,000 people in drought-hit areas since November.

It says it will expand its programe by providing food and cash to one million Haitians facing hunger to help them cope with rising food prices.

The agency provides 200,000 Haitians with cash in exchange for work on watershed management and soil conservation projects to improve agriculture.

The drought has gripped other parts of the Caribbean and Central America, particularly parts of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The current El Nino, which began in early 2015, is one of the strongest on record and has also caused widespread crop losses in countries ranging from Ethiopia to Papua New Guinea. (Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

El Niño Is Causing Havoc in Central America, Asia and Africa
More from AOL.com:
Jessica Chambers' family reacts to indictment
Your smelly body odor could get you a date
Ocean levels are rising faster than ever

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners