On the outskirts of the northwestern city of Port-de-Paix in Haiti, lies the village of Bas des Moustiques. It has been reported that the level of starvation has affected the entire population. A lack of rain in the region in recent Months has prevented harvest of crops and the population is paying a price for that.
It is estimated that around 143,000 people have been diagnosed with chronic malnutrition in the region.
A mother of 11 children recently interviewed, was unable to determine what she should do with her children. She is unable to send them to school or to feed them. She actually admitted that she feels sorry for having her children.
Did You Know That?:
Severe malnutrition suffered in the first two years of life can result in irreversible physical and mental disabilities and depressed immune systems
Pediatric malnutrition is sadly prevalent in Haiti. The major problem with the epidemic is that, as well as the bloated stomachs common to the issue, children are at the risk of their growth being physically hindered by the stunting effects of the lack of protein that plagues those from poor countries. Hoping to offer a permanent solution to the problem, a new product to combat malnutrition, called Nourimanba, has been developed and a batch shipped for distribution in Haiti.
High in calories and protein, Nourimanba is a peanut based food that uses vegetable oil, a much needed mixture of vitamins as well as sugar to provide a balanced meal in one serving to children at risk. The venture will be highly localized, with a Haitian-run facility, using peanuts grown by farmers within the country. The pilot project, giving patronage to 300 local farmers, will also serve to ramp up the quality of the supplied peanuts being used at the factory.
Haiti has been bracing for an extreme food shortage, and it is arriving as the June and July harvests are set to begin. This year's rainfall is anticipated to be well below average. The Spring-Summer harvest season is important because crop yields comprise two-thirds of the harvest that contributes to the island's yearly food output.
Other factors causing agricultural underproduction include 2012's drought and two major hurricanes that hit that year as well. Of the 10 million people living on the island, 75% of them exist on barely $2.00 a day. Of this figure, 1.5 million are suffering from malnutrition, 82,000 of them pre-schoolers. Unfortunately, the country experiences one of the highest levels of child hunger in the Western Hemisphere, which contributes to its high ranking on the failed states index.
We all know the immediate dangers of hurricanes and tropical storms. The high winds and heavy rainfall can cause loss of life and infrastructure on grand scales within a short time. But, there is a latent danger to the weather phenomena which can prove just as costly to life when finally manifested. Most recently, the efforts of Hurricane Sandy, a storm which some say seemed particularly bent on bringing down trees, and Tropical Storm Isaac, caused such virulent flooding in the country, the southerly regions especially, that an estimated 90% of the harvest has been lost.
This has undoubtedly left such a food deficit that, according to the United Nations' relief wing, one and a half million people are faced with 'severe food insecurity'. Ironically, drought, as well as the floods, also plays a significant role in the shortage of food. Information from The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also point to a rise in the rate of malnutrition affecting 7 out of 10 departments since October. They have on record almost 82,000 malnourished children under 5 years old. It's further said that one in every five households is faced with the threat of acute malnutrition and the U.N. believes that Grande-Anse in the far west is among the worst hit places.
There are a lot of facts to know about children in Haiti. Primary school is attended by just about 20% of the children and after primary grade many of the children don't attend school. Many of the schools barely have canteens or cafeterias.
Estimates On Status Of Haitian Children As Per 1998
As per estimates of 1998, the death rate per 1000 children was 99. Lack of care and medication are the main reasons for 25% to 30% death of children in the provinces. It is through a church that the missionaries support around 60% of the private schools in Haiti. Around 60% of the children hardly get three meals per day. Many of the children have no breakfast or lunch.
Cholera, a severe bacterial infection, affects the intestines, causing bouts of watery diarrhea, heaving, circulatory distress, and shock. Anyone can contract cholera, the exception being nursing infants. But there are particular contributors that can predispose people to the illness:
Malnutrition. People who are starving have a propensity to catching cholera. The illness takes hold in places where survivors of war or natural disasters live. Or in communities that suffer famine.
Low levels of stomach acid. Inadequate levels of stomach acid create an environment for cholera bacteria to flourish in. Age groups that have low-acidity markers are children and aged people. Gastric surgery survivors and antacid takers, suffering from ulcers, are also prone to getting cholera.
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