Food flights reach remote comunities in Haiti

Published: 15 Nov 2016

Image credit Mark Hewes

Emergency food aid is reaching Haiti's remote mountain communities, thanks to food relief flights carried out by MAF. Many people living in rural areas have not received any food since hurricane Matthew struck on 5 October.

To the end of last week, MAF has flown more than 220 disaster relief flights, carrying 539 people and 20,697kg of cargo since the hurricane response began.

Flight for DFID

Last week MAF flew two humanitarian advisers from the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) to Jeremie where they spent four days visiting recipients of UK-funded emergency aid.

Rachel Mayer, DFID Humanitarian Adviser; Robin Nataf, DFID Humanitarian Affairs Officer and MAF pilot Will White As one of the worst hit communities, Jeremie has been a key focus for the humanitarian response, in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew DFID were keen to see what had been achieved so far in the coastal town.

DFID leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty with a key aspect of their work helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit, and have contributed towards the funding of MAF's relief effort.

MAF has been able to assist 38 different organisations, including Action Aid Haiti, Haiti Foundation Against Poverty, FERHA, Hospital and Clinic of Health in Jeremie, Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population, and the Red Cross.

Hunger and need

According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the needs in Haiti are still very great. Of the 806,000 affected people who are at the “extreme level” of food insecurity, only 426,000 people (or 53%) have so far received food assistance.

image credit Paul O'BrienContinued security incidents targeting convoys of humanitarian supplies hinder the much needed delivery of assistance by road, while crop loss is estimated to have reached a staggering 80 to 100 percent in some rural areas. There is concern that food insecurity will worsen in the coming months if farming activities are not urgently restored.

In response, humanitarian partners are ramping up operations in all three of the most affected regions of Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud to deliver life-saving assistance including food to 806,000 people. MAF is doing everything we can to assist.

Food reaches communities around Dame Marie

MAF has been continuing to help with air transport of food, medical supplies, medical workers and tarps to Dame Marie. 

Image credit Mark Hewes

Security has improved in the areas. With MAF airstrip agents on the ground now, airstrip control and security has improved and the aircraft are no longer mobbed by people upon landing.

Image credit Mark Hewes

Once in Dame Marie, the supplies are distributed to the surrounding mountain communities that have been cut off from most aid coming into towns in the south-west. These remote Haitians have lost everything — crops, animals, and houses. They are the neediest of the needy

Some of these small communities, made up of a few small houses, are a two- to three-hour walk from Dame Marie.

Earlier this week MAF delivered nearly a metric ton of Manna Packs for FERHA. Manna Packs are a fortified blend of rice and soy developed by food science and nutrition professionals to supplement nutritional needs and reduce problems of malnutrition and will be key to assisting the many hungry people in the days and weeks to come. 

Medical assistance for Les Anglais

MAF flights have continued to areas like Les Anglais, a town of some 20,000 people on Haiti’s south-western tip that was in the eye of hurricane Matthew when it made landfall on 4 October. On a recent flight, MAF flew a medical team to assist the eight doctors and nurses at the local clinic in Les Anglais.

Some of the medical team drove the 160 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince and report that the trip took around seven hours. Along the way they encountered barricades that were set up to allow people to loot relief convoys, but were able to drive around them since they didn’t have trucks of supplies. To enter Les Anglais they had to drive through a river, as there is no bridge into the town. Had the river been much higher they would not have been able to cross.

The team treated some 200 patients for a variety of issues, from upset stomachs to lacerations and broken bones, as well as post-traumatic stress caused by the hurricane.

Grateful for MAF’s help to reach Les Anglais, Michael Wilson, said 'MAF provided the team with a sense of security that they would not have had were they to travel via the roads. Flying also allowed us to spend more time "boots on the ground" administering to those impacted by Matthew. Finally, MAF provided us with the means to transport more medical supplies to the areas most affected by the hurricane.'

Image credit Mark Hewes