Six Facts about Malnutrition in Haiti

  1. At 49.3 percent, Haiti’s 2016–2018 undernourishment rate is showing that approximately half of the population is not able to meet its minimum calorie requirements on a regular basis. Key contributors to food insecurity in Haiti include a high poverty rate and low agricultural productivity, which, in turn, results from frequent natural disasters, a high level of environmental degradation, and heavy reliance on rain-fed agriculture.1
  2. In the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Haiti ranks 104th out of the 107 countries with a score of 33.5. Haiti has a level of hunger that is serious. GHI is an index (range from 1-50) that is composed of four component indicators, the percentage of the population that is undernourished, the percentage of children under five years old who suffer from wasting (low weight-for-height), the percentage of children under five years old who suffer from stunting (low height-for-age), and the percentage of children who die before the age of five (child mortality).2
  3. In addition to natural disasters and climate-related factors, poor infant and young child feeding practices, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, and high unemployment and poverty are also contributors to Haiti’s extraordinarily high undernourishment rate and more moderate child stunting and wasting rates. Although 40 percent of children 0–5 months are exclusively breastfed, 36 percent of children 6 months and younger have started receiving complementary foods, putting them at risk of consuming contaminated foods that can carry disease.3
  4. Childbearing begins early in Haiti. By age 19, 21 percent of adolescent girls had begun childbearing in 2016–2017, which is a decrease from 31 percent in 2012. Early motherhood has serious consequences because, relative to older mothers, adolescent girls are more likely to be malnourished. These malnourished younger mothers tend to have babies with lower birth weights, have malnourished babies, and have babies with an increased risk of illness and death. The risk of stunting is 63 percent higher among first-born children of girls under 18 years in Latin

America and the Caribbean, and as such, early motherhood is a key driver of malnutrition.3

  1. According to The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), between August 2020 – February 2021, 42% of the analyzed Haitian population (around 4 million people) are facing high acute food insecurity and need urgent action. Among the 4 million people, 905,471 are classified in Emergency and 3,083,497 people are classified in Crisis. The numbers are projected to reach 4.4 million people for the period of March – June 2021.4
  2. Haiti’s protracted economic crisis has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing many families deeper into poverty and hunger. The impacts of COVID-19 mitigation measures include: less sources of income (especially for those engaged in agricultural labor, the informal economy and day laborers) difficulty accessing food in markets due to inflation, high food prices and a subsequent reduction in household purchasing power.4,5 Amidst the pandemic, in late August of 2020, the passing of Hurricane Laura across the southern departments left many crops and forests in ruins. which also exacerbated the country’s food insecurity.6


  1. Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. (2019). Hunger and Undernutrition in Haiti. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from
  2. Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. (2020). Haiti. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from
  3. (2018). Haiti: Nutrition Profile. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from
  4. Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. (2020). Haiti Acute Food Insecurity Analysis – August 2020 – June 2021. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from
  5. Scaling Up Nutrition. (2020). Tackling severe hunger in Haiti with the support of the European Union. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from
  6. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2020). Haiti: Tropical Storm Laura – Situation Report No. 4, As of 28 August 2020, 16:00. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from


By Jennifer Shu Ping Chen

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