Above: the meeting of the OAS’ Group of Friends of Haiti in Washington (OAS Photo/Maria Patricia Leiva)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
More than 81,000 hectares under cultivation in Haiti have reportedly been damaged by Tropical Storm Isaac, including bananas, coffee, avocado and citrus crops.
That totaled approximately $242 million in damage to Haiti’s agriculture and agricultural infrastructure, according to data revealed during an Organization of American States meeting aimed at assessing the impact of the storm on the country.
The meeting was convened by OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, who is the chairman of the organization’s Haiti Task Force. Ramdin was joined by representatives from groups including Pan American Health Organization, the Pan American Development Foundation, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the International Monetary Fund. Several European representatives also attended.
The meeting came after direct conversations between Ramdin and Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
The government of the neighbouring Dominican Republic has begun to step up support for Haiti in the wake of the storm, which led to at least 24 deaths, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection office.
Dominican representatives have sent mobile food units across the border aimed at providing “tens of thousands of people” with food.
Ramdin expressed his condolences to Haiti for the loss of life, and urged progress on Haiti’s myriad tent camps, which continue to house an estimated 400,000 refugees from the 2010 earthquake.
That echoed the recent call by Luca Dall’Oglio, the head of the International Organization for Migration’s Haiti mission.
“The dismantling of tent cities is a priority. So far, the combined efforts of the government and international partners have led to a decrease in the number of people living in tents, from 1.5 million to 400,000, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. “International financial institutions in particular must continue to work with other stakeholders and the government to source support for this priority.”
Ramdin did point to Haiti’s efforts to evacuate residents ahead of the storm, calling it the “first time an evacuation of this scale has been carried out, and so quickly.”
“We must continue to provide support,” he said. “It’s a long-term commitment.”
Further impacts from the storm included 1,105 homes destroyed, 1,144 homes flooded and 6,040 with damage, according Ronsard St Cyr, Haiti’s Minister of the Interior and Territorial Communities.
The agricultural damage also included the loss of 4,000 heads of cattle, according to data from Lamothe’s office.