Before Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4th, households in Haiti were struggling to recover from: several years of drought, exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon in 2015 the consequences of the 2010 earthquake, the continued cholera outbreak that followed the 2010 earthquake.
The high inflation, the price of staple foods rose increased by 16% between July 2015 and 2015, limited Government support and continued erosion of livelihood opportunities already to access basic needs. Even before the hurricane, almost 60% of the population lived under the national poverty line of US$ 2.42 per day.
One of the most alarming fallouts of the category 4 storm is the impact on household assets, roads and market infrastructure in the departments most affected, which results in immediate shortages of basic needs. While there is currently limited information on the consequences of the hurricane on the functionality of markets, initial assumptions on its impact can be made: The 200,000 buildings estimated to be damaged includes critical market infrastructure such as shops, storage facilities, and roads. The economy in Haiti is characterized by a high dependence on food imports and remittances. In addition, the departments most affected by the hurricane are highly dependent on other parts of the country for access to cash and basic food needs. This essential movement of money and goods is already known to be severely constrained, with some departments cut off from the capital due to flooding, landslides, and debris. This has already resulted in localised shortages of basic items and further price increases that will continue until access is restored.
Due to the widespread damage to subsistence production, households will have to turn to markets to buy food and recovery materials. However, as a result of the reported increase in prices coupled with the destruction of income sources, many poor households will be unable to afford basic needs. Without support, the most vulnerable households will be unable to replace or repair productive assets, leading to a longer term increase in poverty rates.