1.4 Million People in Haiti Need Food Assistance After Hurricane Matthew

Officials say 800,000 people are in need of "dire need of immediate food aid."

ByABC News
October 24, 2016, 6:32 PM

— -- Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Matthew roared through Haiti, killing hundreds and leaving behind a trail of destruction, officials fear the nation could face a food crisis.

An estimated 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance following the hurricane on Oct. 4, according to a joint statement today by the government of Haiti, the Haitian National Coordination for Food Security, the U.N.'s World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Of those, nearly 800,000 are in "dire need of immediate food aid," the statement said.

"There has been a massive loss of crops in some areas of Grand Anse [in the island nation's southern peninsula] up to a 100-percent loss, just everything is gone," Alexis Masciarelli, a World Food Program worker in Haiti told ABC News today. "What's striking is that all the food trees are gone, a vast majority of them. The coconuts, the bananas, the mangoes."

"Bananas usually grow back in about a year, but coconut and mangoes take years to come back," he said.

Miguel Barreto, the World Food Program's regional director said in a statement today, “Local products on the markets will soon be depleted and we need more funding in order to continue food distributions to help 800,000 people in need of food aid which is more than urgent,”

PHOTO: Coconut palms toppled by Hurricane Matthew lay in the countryside near Jeremie, southwestern Haiti, Oct. 14, 2016.
Coconut palms toppled by Hurricane Matthew lay in the countryside near Jeremie, southwestern Haiti, Oct. 14, 2016. Re-planting vegetable crops can be done relatively quickly and rice fields begin to recover as floodwaters recede, but the loss of mature fruit trees that families nurtured for a generation is a staggering blow.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo

Three thousand metric tons of emergency food have been distributed to affected areas since Matthew, but it does not meet the country's current need, Masciarelli told ABC News.

Of the 800,000 people in urgent need of food aid, "so far we have managed to distribute food assistance to 200,000 people," he said.

The food program has had some difficulty getting food to areas hit especially hard by the hurricane, he said. "There have been attacks on conveys and very heavy rains over the last few weeks that led to very heavy floods."

He added that the attacks on convoys have been rare and have been done by "desperate and hungry people," he said.

Masciarelli said that during his first trip to the country's southern peninsula following the hurricane, "you could just see people eating whatever they could find on the ground."

    In addition, many farmers in that region of the country have lost their tools, and so will not be able to plant during their traditional planting season in November, Masciarelli said.

    "Before, this was an area where people were mostly self-sufficient," he said.

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