The World Food Programme said on Saturday it had started its first systematic food distribution system for Haiti since the earthquake, establishing 16 sites in the capital where only women can collect food.
Food distribution since the January 12 quake has often been marked by poor coordination, gaps in coverage and desperate, unruly lines of needy people in which young men at times have shoved aside the women and the weak and taken their food.
The U.N. agency said in a statement that the fixed sites established across Port-au-Prince by it and other aid groups will ensure a regular flow of food and other humanitarian assistance to all those who need it.
Starting Saturday, Haitians will receive coupons entitling each family to 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of rice, WFP said. The first distributions begin on Sunday, with only women allowed in to collect rations. WFP said it would work with other aid groups and local authorities to ensure men in need aren’t excluded.
“Up until now the nature of this emergency has forced us to work in a quick and dirty way simply to get food out,” WFP’s executive director Josette Sheeran said in a statement. “This new system will allow us to provide food assistance to more people, more quickly.”
WFP said it aimed to reach over two-million people in the next two weeks. To date, WFP said it had reached nearly 600,000 people with over 16 million meals.
WFP has said the collapse of Haiti’s infrastructure, losses in the aid community in Haiti at the time of the quake, security concerns and the huge scale of need have hampered their response.
Ms. Sheeran said the emergency was “the most complex challenge we have ever confronted.”