The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew took center stage in Haiti in the final months of 2016. Existing infrastructure was decimated in the southern part of the country and cholera cases surged. Of immediate concern is the food supply for areas that lost their harvest and were not able to plant next year’s crop.
Elections, scheduled after the 2015 results were largely rejected by the Haitian electorate, had to be delayed due to the hurricane. Pushing for rapid resolution and not accepting allegations of fraud, the State Department pulled out funding for the new round of elections in 2016. In November, a new round of presidential elections was held and despite low voter turnout, the results were accepted by most Haitians as valid.
In April the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a shipment of surplus peanuts from the U.S. to Haitian schools, igniting a lively debate around appropriate food assistance and how well-intentioned donations can undermine food and livelihood projects already in place. As of the end of 2016 there are no reports of the peanuts arriving in Haiti.
Prior to the hurricane, Congress demonstrated strong bipartisan support for addressing cholera when 158 members urged the administration to contribute to the United Nations’ cholera elimination plan. We were heartened by the UN’s admission of responsibility for cholera in September and formal apology to victims in November. As we celebrate these important steps, we are committed to ensuring that the UN translates these words into action. We are hopeful that congressional support for Haiti’s cholera epidemic will remain strong. —Charissa Zehr