Project Medishare | Food security in Haiti needs more than a band-aid approach
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Food security in Haiti needs more than a band-aid approach

  |   Agriculture Program

By Jennifer Browning

As Haiti began recovering from the damage of three consecutive three hurricanes, the small Caribbean country found itself in the midst of food riots in Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, and elsewhere as a result of rapid food cost inflation in early 2008.

Well-intentioned organizations often gather to send packages of food to Haiti and while it is a noble gesture, in reality it does little good. Much can be done to promote food security in Haiti, but it is up to humanitarians big and small to think about ways to make a long-term difference rather than placing a temporary band-aid over the problem. It is important that time, energy, and resources are pulled together to make an actual difference.

In  Bryan Schaaf’s article “Don’t Send Food to Haiti,” he explains why cash contributions are a better choice when humanitarians wish to assist a developing country’s food security situation. Money is easy to transport and, unlike food or other donated items, it doesn’t have to clear customs. More often than not, items sent to Haiti sit in warehouses waiting for inspection and approval.

An accompanying side of the issue is that when food and goods are sent to Haiti, such efforts can actually hurt the economy rather than help. When food and other items can be purchased locally, it puts cash into the economy. When food and other commodities are sent, all too often these seemingly positive efforts end up undermining the local markets.

Schaaf advocates individuals and groups who wish to help Haiti to educate themselves on the root causes of hunger there, share what’s been learned with friends and community, and encourage them to establish a long-term relationship with an organization doing good work in Haiti. It is important that supporters know that while there are challenges, things are changing and there is hope in Haiti.

Haitian farmers in Thomonde prepare a trial field just outside of town. Project Medishare brought in the agriculture component in parntership with The Global Institute at the University of Miami as part of the Integrated Community Development Program. When the Akamil Facility begins production this year, it will use grains and other ingrediants purchased from local farmers. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

For the past three years Project Medishare has been a part of this hopeful spirit of progress and change in Haiti. Medishare has been working toward a long-term solution regarding hunger and malnutrition in Haiti’s Central Plateau, starting with the community of Thomonde. Project Medishare has been working toward specifically solving the malnutrition problem in Haiti with the construction of the Akamil Production Facility and Nutrition Complex. Construction of the facility began over two years ago and despite severe hurricanes, the Akamil Production Facility is finally complete. Currently, equipment for the production facility is being installed. Project Medishare is expecting to begin production of Akamil this year.

The Akamil Production Facility will manufacture and distribute AKA1000, often referred to as Akamil, a mix of locally-grown products such as cereals (rice, corn, millet, wheat) and vegetables (beans) all blended into powder. It is a product of great nutritious value containing building and energetic nutrients, and is affordable to poor families. With the expert consultation of a nutritionist, the finished product will be fortified with a mix of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and Vitamin A.

If you would like to join Project Medishare and be a part of Haiti’s continuing growth and progress, click here to make a donation. Donors can choose to make a general donation, or support one of Project Medishare’s many programs like the Safe Water Project, the Medical Complex and Training Center for Childhood Nutrition, or perhaps the Pediatrics Surgical Program.

Click here to read Bryan Schaaf’s article which gives a closer look to the food security situation in Haiti and explains why you shouldn’t send food to Haiti.