Haiti Tries 'Women-Only' Aid

Coupons meant to circumvent young men who cut in line
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2010 8:57 AM CST
Haiti Tries 'Women-Only' Aid
A boy smiles as his siblings sit at their makeshift tent in a camp in Port-au-Prince, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010.   (Rodrigo Abd)

Haiti relief workers are handing out women-only food coupons, launching a new phase of what they hope will be less cutthroat aid distribution to ensure that families and the weak get supplies following Haiti's devastating earthquake. Young men often force their way to the front of aid delivery lines or steal from it from others, meaning aid doesn't reach the neediest at rough-and-tumble distribution centers, according to aid groups.

The World Food Program coupons can be turned in by women at 16 sites in the capital starting today, and entitle each family to 55 pounds of rice. UN officials say they are still far short of reaching all 2 million quake victims. Shortages of food, clean water, adequate shelter and latrines are creating a potential spawning ground for epidemics. Women wait until night to bathe out of buckets, shielding their bodies behind damaged cars and trucks. Water is recycled—used first for brushing teeth, then washing food, then bathing. (More Haiti stories.)

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