Haiti: ACF Working to Prevent Malnutrition

With local support in Sainte Marie, humanitarian organization distributes high protein biscuits to vulnerable families
ACF distributing high protein biscuits to vulnerable families in Port-au-Prince, courtesy L. Grosjean

SAINTE MARIE, PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—As the risk of life-threatening malnutrition grows among young children in Haiti, Action Against Hunger | ACF-International has launched an emergency program to distribute high-protein BP5 biscuits to at least 15,000 vulnerable children.

The international humanitarian organization completed its first distribution yesterday in a camp for the displaced in the Sainte Marie zone of Port-au-Prince, an area that has experienced major destruction as a result of last week’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

“In a crisis of this magnitude, our first priority is to reach young children at risk of dying from malnutrition,” said Lucile Grosjean, a spokesperson for Action Against Hunger in Haiti. “Their systems can deteriorate rapidly, so we have to move quickly while respecting everyone’s dignity and ensuring their safety.”

In preparation for an efficient distribution in Sainte-Marie, Action Against Hunger teams worked closely with neighborhood committees formed in the makeshift camps to identify 970 families with children under five to receive the vitamin-fortified biscuits.

The organization augmented its existing team on the ground with an additional 60 local employees, including 30 handlers to unload trucks. Food stocks were protected by a security perimeter with points of entry for families receiving the BP5 biscuits. Neighborhood committee members were also enlisted to provide instructions for the beneficiary families receiving the food rations.

“Because we had the support of the local population, met all the families, and explained the process in detail, the distribution was very calm and orderly,” Grosjean explained.

In addition to emergency nutritional support, Action Against Hunger is rushing to provide access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in Port-au-Prince, Leogane, and Gonaives, which has experienced an influx of quake survivors. The organization’s water and sanitation programs are working to provide clean water access to more than 150,000 people in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

Action Against Hunger has implemented programs in Haiti since 1985, carrying out emergency measures in the areas of health and nutrition. Since 2001, ACF has focused primarily on food security and water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in both emergency and development contexts in Port de Paix, Gonaives, Anse Rouge and Jeremiah.