With the immediate aftermath from Hurricane Sandy passing for Haiti, the longterm effects on the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere begin to sink in.
The two greatest concerns now: food shortages and cholera.
Hurricane Sandy Destroyed Crops
According to this BBC story, more than 70 percent of crops, including staples like bananas, plantains and maize, were destroyed in southern Haiti.
In a country with 80 percent of the population below the poverty line, a 40.6 percent unemployment rate and 18.9 percent of children under 5 years underweight, this is extraordinarily bad news.
Heifer Haiti project families were not exempt from the storm's path. Hundreds of animals were killed or remain unaccounted for, including 361 goats, 183 fowl and 91 sheep. There was significant crop damage, one fishing boat was lost and nearly 300 homes in project communities were damaged and another 42 destroyed.
Hurricane Sandy will Likely Increase Cholera
Floods and unsanitary conditions will probably worsen the cholera epidemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 7,500 people since 2010. Haiti has the second-lowest life expectancy (62.51 years) outside the African continent, so an increase in cholera cases will only further devastate this island nation.
Haiti's Hurricane Sandy Survivors Need Our Help
Unlike the United States, where Sandys victims can look to government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local officials for help, as well as churches, community organizations and aid groups, Heifers Haitian project families depend on the generosity of Heifer donors to help them rebuild and recover.
More assessments are needed to fully understand Sandys impact on Haiti and on Heifer project families, but the need is already apparentfamilies need help getting back on their feet, restocking livestock and replanting fields. Only through a dependable diet, income and assets can they begin to rebuild their and their familys futureensuring medical care against cholera, that their kids remain in school and they build back better and stronger against the next storm threat.
Heifer International has a Disaster Management Fund to provide life-supporting aid in the wake of a natural disaster or event. Families in Haiti need this help now.
You can contribute to Heifer's Disaster Management Fund here. Our friends and neighbors in the Northeast need and are getting help. Lets be sure that families in Haiti have the same chance for a better future.