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Canada’s World/Canada Monde – Food riots in Haiti/Crise alimentaire en Haïti.

April 14, 2008

The prime minister of Haiti, Jacques Edouard Alexis, was dismissed this weekend in response to rising food prices that have sparked riots in the capital Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Haitian president Rene Preval also announced a plan to lower the price of a 23-kilogram bag of rice from $51 to $43, thanks to a subsidy provided by international donors and the Haitian business community.

Après la semaine d’émeutes, qui ont fait au moins six morts – incluant un militaire de l’ONU – et plus de 200 blessés, la Banque mondiale a décidé d’octroyer une aide de 10 millions de dollars à Haïti. But if the World Food Programme cannot meet its goal of 96 million dollars in food aid to Haiti this year, activists predict the crisis will only deepen.

Haiti is not alone in experiencing a food crisis – food prices have risen about 40% around the world since mid-2007. As of December last year, there were 37 countries facing food crises and 20 that had imposed food price controls of some kind. En mars, le Programme alimentaire mondial a lancé un appel pour récolter 500 millions de dollars supplémentaires pour combattre la crise. Plus de la moitié des 500 millions de dollars ont jusqu’à maintenant été amassés, mais ce n’est toutefois pas suffisant.

Why is this crisis happening? According to the Globe and Mail, causes include a swelling global population, soaring energy prices, the clamouring for meat from the rising Asian middle class, competition from biofuels and hot money pouring into the commodity markets.

And what is Canada doing about it? The head of the World Food Program says other countries should follow our lead. In Haiti, which is Canada’s most important long-term development assistance beneficiary in the Americas and the second largest in the world (after Afghanistan), Canada has a $10 million commitment to working with the World Food Programme to provide food to primary school children. De 2006-2011, le gouvernement de Canada versera 520 millions de dollars pour appuyer la réforme à long terme ainsi que les efforts de reconstruction.

Que pensez-vous de notre présence en Haïti? Ajoutez vos opinions à nos forums de discussion. What do you think about Canada’s presence in Haiti? You can find different perspectives on our involvement here and here. And share your own opinion with us in our online conversation.

Photos from flickr user Guille.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Elizabeth permalink
    April 25, 2008 5:45 pm

    Are we helping? I would say yes. True, at first glance it would appear that we are just throwing money at a problem and hoping it will solve itself. But since 2005 Canadian Aid relief and volunteers have been able to make a difference. It may not be clear, but when looking to see whether or not we have had an effect, we must compare the state of the county to what it was, rather than where other countries are now.

    This article seems to be asking the question, should we be there? Are our actions in Haiti at all worthwhile? Perhaps these are not the questions that should be asked. As a wealthy nation we owe it to other countries to aid them in times of need, and we know that we are exacting some positive changes. Maybe what we should be asking is: is this the MOST EFFECTIVE method of bringing about that change? Are there maybe better solutions that would affect more people more effectively? Or perhaps are there reasons why our current method of involvement are not effective?

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