In spite of efforts to reduce world hunger, in its latest report, the UN found that for the third consecutive year, hunger in the Caribbean has increased. The findings, from November, represent a huge challenge as it largely affects the poorer sectors of society, with around 18 percent of the Caribbean believed to be hungry, and a peak in Haiti of 47%.
On World Food Day in October, the UN revealed that over 815 million people globally still do not have enough food to live and a shocking one in two infant deaths globally is caused by hunger. Though ‘zero hunger’ goals are in place for 2030, action is needed now.
Rising food prices in the Caribbean have been one factor to blame for the area’s troubles, the need for more self-sufficiency greater than ever. Haiti alone - the poorest country in the northern hemisphere - imports 50 percent of its food, and 80 percent of its main food product, rice.
It provides a strong case study for empowering the poverty struck population, which has also been prone to horrific natural disasters, where 2.5m live in extreme poverty, and two out of three live on less than $2 a day while 10 percent of the richest possess 70 percent of the country’s income.
Venezuela provides the majority of the country’s unsustainable electricity source through its diesel, accounting for more than 60% of electricity generation, so powering the likes of refrigeration systems to food processing plants and cooking facilities, must change if the issue of hunger is to be combatted.
Rise Against Hunger began a project to help eradicate hunger in 2015, with local partners, Hearts and Hands for Haiti and Siloe Mission. Taking a five-acre plot of land outside a home for displaced youth, they began to teach a small Haitian community to return to the agricultural life of their forefathers. Funding two water wells to provide access to drinking water, an aquaculture system, the five-acre farm, drip irrigation system, solar panels and the full-time salary of a hired agronomist, this was the key to empowering them towards a life of self-sufficiency. The project provided for the 75 children in the home and the 2,100 in the schools, and sold the surplus food at market to generate income.
In 2017, the Haitian Parliament eliminated import tariffs and duties on solar equipment, much needed in the wake of the 2010 and 2016 disasters which left even more of the population without power. Solar power could transform food security in many ways from powering local production such as cacao and coffee plants, powering storage and cooling for local crops such as mango and avocado, and powering freezing facilities for local fishermen who are said to lose up to 40 percent of their catch due to inability to store and freeze safely.
As the Government of Haiti has made hydropower development a priority, it is currently the largest contribution of renewables in Haiti. A ‘rehabilitation plan’ has been put in place since 2012 to revive some of the ailing, old, hydropower plants.
One of the largest and oldest, is the Peligre plant. Operated by Electricité d’Haiti (EDH), a contract was awarded to GE in 2012 to manage the overhaul. As Peligre lake is the main electricity source of the country, also providing irrigation and flood protection through its dam for local agriculture, it was a priority. Now, since the overhaul, which was completed in 2018, the Peligre plant generates 54 MW and will provide sustainable energy for the 40 years to come.
Boasting the world’s largest solar powered hospital, Haiti is proving a beacon to the world, and could transform the country into becoming far more self-sufficient. Mirebalais has 1,800 rooftop solar panels which since launch, have generated enough energy to charge more than 19,000 electric cars, run six surgical suites, attend to 60,029 patients and safely deliver more than 800 babies, proving that the country’s plentiful sun supply, could transform the lives of its people.
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