Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mud cookies

EXTREME poverty is forcing Haiti's poorest people to eat dirt.

Mud cookies - made from dirt, salt and vegetable shortening - have become popular among Haitians desperate to stave off hunger, the Associated Press reports.

The cookies - which are occasionally used by pregnant women and children as an antacid and source of calcium - have become a regular meal.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and one of the most disadvantaged in the world.

Seventy-six per cent of the population lives on less than $2.25 a day, and 55 per cent live on less than $1.13 a day.

Chronic malnutrition is widespread and diarrhoea - an easily-preventable disease - kills one in five children under the age of five.

Haitian doctors have warned that relying on the mud cookies will lead to malnutrition.

“Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it,” said Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti’s health ministry.

The mud cookies sell for around five cents each, compared to 60 cents for two cups of rice.

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