It doesn’t rain on wet, it rains on huge puddles. Anything that happens in Haiti is hardly news. Whether it is a new earthquake, torrential rains that cause flooding, landslides, loss of human lives, crops, and animals. When the situation seems to be on the edge, you can still go further. The consequences are disastrous. And despite this, the population remains hooked on a thread of hope.
The floods of the recent rainy season, which has affected almost 40,000 homes, according to the Haitian Civil Protection, and the last earthquake that occurred on June 6, are making it difficult for humanitarian aid to reach people who depend on it and who are in a situation of extreme vulnerability. In addition, the hurricane season that began just a few weeks ago may bring more severe weather events in the coming months, so replenishing humanitarian aid stocks is essential in a Haiti that can’t take it anymore.
Jean Claucita lives in the commune of Côteaux, in the southern department of the country, one of the most vulnerable in terms of food insecurity. She is pregnant, expecting his second child. He looks at the next day apprehensively. “Things are going very badly for us, sometimes we only eat bananas and yams (a tuber). Sometimes when my son comes home from school, he can’t find anything to eat, so he has to go to the neighbors’ house”.
Just a month ago, it was the drought that wiped out subsistence crops. Now, the rains wash away any green shoot in a country on the edge, where 4.9 million people, almost half the population, go hungry. A figure that has only grown – it has tripled since 2016 – and that puts Haitians on the brink of the abyss.
A hint of a smile on Marie Lucia’s face betrays her concern. Five people live in her house, including an 18-month-old baby and two children aged 6 and 10 who need to be fed. Growing your own food is also not an option, she explains. “Because of the drought we have nothing, we live on the grace of God. She couldn’t buy food, so she was always in debt to the merchants”. She used to sell products in the market. Now, traveling and moving means facing the risk of meeting members of gangs along the way that frighten the population, and therefore facing the possibility of not returning home. More than 165,000 people have fled their homes due to violence, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Terror, kidnappings, executions and violence against women and girls have become a daily occurrence.
The precipice looks ever closer for one of the poorest countries in the world. Millions of people survive thanks to humanitarian aid and their resilience. This is the case of Jean Claudita and Marie Lucia, for whom receiving financial support has been essential to alleviate the situation, it has allowed them to pay debts with merchants, buy food and try to get ahead. “With the first money I received, I bought a goat,” says Marie. “The food shortage caused by the drought led to the death of the goat, but we ate the meat of it. With the second money I received, I bought a pig and food for the house. Unfortunately, the pig died, so I lost everything. I have no luck with animals. I used the rest to buy food and pay for my children’s school.”
Because, for Marie, it is important to maintain hope for a future for herself, for her children, for her family. Same as for Jean. “Since I am pregnant, I am buying good food so that my baby grows well. I am also preparing for the arrival of the baby, buying things for when she is born, ”she explains. Life goes on and makes its way despite the drought, despite the hurricanes, despite the earthquakes, despite the violence. The Haitian population resists, resilient, and does a little of its part every day to get out of the hole. Life goes on, stubborn, despite everything.
Florentine David is coordinator of humanitarian aid projects in Haiti at the Alliance for Solidarity-ActionAid.
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