The World Food Program sounded an alarm Friday over arid conditions in northwest Haiti that have worsened an already dire food shortage in this impoverished country.
"The situation is worrying," said Peter de Clercq, an official at the United Nations, which runs the international food aid agency.
The Caribbean country "desperately needs food and nutritional assistance," said de Clercq, deputy special representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
The UN official, who just completed an overflight of the drought-stricken region via helicopter, said the WFP already has provided food aid to tens of thousands of inhabitants of northwestern Haiti.
Government statistics here showed that about 43 percent of households in Haiti's northwest suffer from food insecurity, compared to a national average of about 30 percent.
Officials at Haiti's National Council for Food Security said on Friday that recurring drought has worsened "chronic food insecurity" in the region, which has had "below average rainfall at least one year out of three" in recent years.
Various UN agencies on Thursday distributed more than 1.5 tonnes of food supplies to some 164,000 people in northwest Haiti and neighboring areas.
Officials said the food shortage and drought, while particularly acute in Haiti's northwest, are being felt in other parts of the country as well.
"There are other regions of Haiti that are in the same situation," said de Clercq, who said there are hundreds of thousands of people still in need of food aid.
"Urgent assistance is needed, but it needs to be long term aid," the UN official said.