The appeal, launched in Geneva with Jean Max Bellerive, Haiti’s Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, will also help authorities better cope with natural disasters, such as hurricanes and the flooding that hit last month and caused severe damage to agriculture.The appeal aims to reinforce the Government’s capacity to meet needs for humanitarian and development assistance and to improve governance, the UN said in a press release.“The appeal also aims to reduce vulnerability among the population and to ensure that authorities are better prepared in the event of natural disasters,” said Joel Boutroue, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the UN Stabilization Mission for Haiti (MINUSTAH).As well as being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti – with a population of 8.4 million – ranks 153 out of 177 countries worldwide according to the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) social indicators. More than half of all Haitians live below the extreme poverty line of $1 per day, while nearly three quarters – more than 6.2 million people – live below the poverty line of $2 per day.Male life expectancy is only 52 years, and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world. Haiti also has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the area: 4 to 5 per cent of the population is infected with HIV.The projects in the appeal focus on political governance, economic recovery and access to basic services. The largest appealing organization is the UNDP, followed by the World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).In a separate press release, the FAO said its share of the overall appeal – amounting to around $14 million – would allow the agency to continue its work in improving agriculture and disaster management.“Our activities will continue in five major areas: distribution of seeds, tools and fertilizers; vegetable production in urban areas; animal vaccination; rehabilitation of small infrastructure such as water tanks, irrigation systems, and weirs; riverbank protection; and disaster management and mitigation, including soil protection and seed stocks,” said FAO expert Fernanda Guerrieri.In another development, MINUSTAH announced today that its Brazilian troops have helped to construct a new road to Cité Soleil. The $300,000 project, realized through cooperation between the mission and the Haitian Government, involved Brazilian engineers removing thousands of metric tons of garbage from the area, bringing in heavy construction equipment, and then paving the road.