U.S. Lawmakers Urge USAID to Ensure Food Security in Haiti

This week 41 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power urging her to act to ensure food security in Haiti in response to warnings from the United Nations that half the population there could be facing severe hunger as early as next month. The lawmakers urged USAID to “work with grassroots and community organizations and include them in the distribution process.” The also asked USAID to “purchase emergency food aid from local sources whenever possible and ensure that long term aid directed at Haiti be used to support smallholder farm families in their quest to become more productive, climate-smart, and integrated with public health initiatives.”

This initiative was set in motion by the recent Open Letter About Food Aid to Haiti that was drafted by the Smallholder Farmers Alliance and signed by 50 of the leading organizations providing a wide range of services in agriculture, healthcare and community development throughout Haiti. The main points of this open letter were incorporated into the House letter that was led by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), alongside Reps. Andy Levin (MI-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24).


This House letter was profiled two days ago in The Hill (the largest independent political news site in the U.S.): “41 Democrats ask USAID to expand food aid to Haiti.” It should be noted that despite a vigorous effort on the part of many, we were unable to get the signatures to make the letter bipartisan. Despite this, we know there is support across party lines for the stated goals.


Congresswoman Schakowsky issued a press release yesterday making the House letter public, “Schakowsky, Levin, McGovern, Pressley, and Wilson Lead Colleagues in Urging USAID to Ensure Food Security in Haiti.”


Letters such as these, however eloquent and inspiring, are only useful if they translate to specific, measurable and transparent actions. Even in the midst of the smoldering cauldron of multiple crises that is Haiti at present, there is a historic opportunity to significantly change the process of emergency food delivery If managed correctly, this process could lay a foundation for the long-term revival of agriculture in a nation with an estimated one million smallholder farm families. These farmers, given the right support, have the potential to increase Haiti’s domestic crop production by at least 40% and finally achieve food security for this country.


Author: `