In the aftermath of the earthquake, a primary concern of PIH is the vulnerability of children among the survivors and displaced. With nearly 40% of Haitians are under the age of 14, children are at risk in several ways. First, many children have lost or been separated from parents, thus swelling the ranks of orphans and vulnerable children in the country who must be protected. Second, with large numbers of displaced people living in temporary shelters or tents, or crowded into inadequate housing, there is danger of public health epidemics such as cholera, diarrheal diseases, and typhoid, particularly among children. Children are also at heightened risk for malnutrition: prior to the earthquake, nearly 25% of children were chronically malnourished in Haiti, and with rising prices, the onset of the rainy season, the May-July seasonal hunger gap, and protracted displacement, most expect pediatric malnutrition rates to rise in Haiti.
PIH's food programs serve to both treat and prevent pediatric malnutrition We treat acutely malnourished children by using a locally manufactured therapeutic food called Nourimanba. Nourimanba is a peanut butter-based "Ready to Use Therapeutic Food" that provides 100% of the daily nutritional requirements for protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for malnourished children. For children who are moderately malnourished or transitioning off of Nourimanba, we provide a locally produced mixture of milled grain and legumes called Nourimil. In 2009, PIH provided these foods to 5,600 severely and moderately malnourished children. However, we expect that the disruption in day-to-day life and the rising cost of food will increase rates of pediatric malnutrition, and we expect to serve 8,000 children this year, both among displaced children who are now in our catchment area, and within the IDP camps we are working in Port-au-Prince.
Alongside our efforts to provide access to education, PIH also recognizes that children cannot learn if they do not eat. Through our school lunch program at 27 local schools in our catchment area, roughly 9,000 students are provided with a high-protein, low-cost, nutritious meal. And considering the fact that the price of food has already risen since the earthquake - this nutritious meal is essential in ensuring the capacity of Haiti's youngest to absorb their educations. In each of the communities where we provide school lunches, PIH employs local women to prepare the meals from hundreds of giant sacks of rice and beans. The benefits of this program are enormous, and yet the cost is minimal - just 27 cents per child per school day. Now that parents no longer have to choose between education and food for their children, school attendance has increased significantly, and so have the attention spans and classroom performance of the children once they get to school. As the influx of families from PAP increases demands on local schools, we expect this program to also grow, and are expecting to reach 11,000 children this year with the school lunch program.