Hunger Crisis in HaitiDue to its location and small landmass, Haiti is susceptible to severe natural disasters. Because of this, among other factors, Haiti has long relied on importing food to feed its citizens. For example, Haiti imports 80% of its rice, a staple ingredient in many of Haiti’s traditional dishes, according to the International Trade Administration. This heavy reliance on outside sources of food means Haiti faces a high risk of food insecurity. Political instability, devaluation of the Haitian currency and rising inflation rates have contributed to a hunger crisis in Haiti.

Factors Contributing to the Hunger Crisis in Haiti

On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the southern peninsula of Haiti. The earthquake damaged homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. As many Haitians lost their means of earning an income, food insecurity became more pronounced. The United Nations said about 650,000 Haitians needed humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The supply chain disruptions as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has caused soaring inflation rates in Haiti and across the world. As of July 2022, Haiti had already seen a 26% inflation rate.

The prevalence of gang activity in Haiti, as a consequence of the political instability in the country, also plays a role in the hunger crisis in Haiti. At the moment, gangs control the entrances to the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. The rapidly increasing inflation rate coupled with gangs cutting off the southern peninsula from the capital has led to a steep increase in hunger for the vast majority of impoverished Haitians living in that area of the country.

“The complete blockage of the road leading to the impoverished southern peninsula for a year has cut off at least 3.5 million people from the capital — restricting access to markets, basic services and essential humanitarian assistance,” the World Food Programme (WFP) reported in July 2022. Due to these impacts, some families in this area report only eating once a day.

The southern peninsula also experienced the worst effects of the 2021 earthquake, meaning that this newer food crisis hit while the area was still trying to recover from the last major natural disaster in Haiti.

The Most Vulnerable Groups

About 20% of Haiti’s population is projected to experience crisis levels of acute food insecurity from July 2022 to January 2023, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Though the crisis affects all Haitians, rural Haitians face harsher impacts. The New Humanitarian reports in a September 2022 article that a single “plate of food already costs the average Haitian 35% of their daily income.” But, the average rural Haitian currently needs to spend 25% more of their daily income on food than the national average.

Children face the worst repercussions of the hunger crisis in Haiti as inadequate supplies of nutritious food affect their growth and development. Malnutrition has far-reaching impacts that affect individuals even in adulthood.

Efforts to Help Reduce Hunger in Haiti

Despite gang violence posing barriers to the delivery of food and other critical resources to those in need, the WFP and other organizations, such as USAID, are working around these barriers. As of August 2022, the WFP, for example, has been utilizing a United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) helicopter, and the WFP’s own ship, the Linda D, in order to bypass the dangerous occupied roads and deliver essentials to those in need.

Additionally, USAID has provided more than $170 million over the last two years to aid Haiti. In terms of the hunger crisis in Haiti specifically, USAID “provided more than $88.6 million to five public international
organizations and 10 non-governmental organizations in FY 2022.” This funding will go toward “cash and in-kind emergency food assistance, as well as nutrition services and agricultural support, to vulnerable households countrywide,” according to a USAID document.

To adequately address food insecurity in Haiti, aid organizations must look toward helping Haiti achieve self-sufficiency and sustainability. With less dependence on food imports and greater focus on agricultural production, Haiti can reduce its hunger woes.

– Chris Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in HaitiIn February 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the start of a new five-year program that promises $50 million in assistance to Haiti. The program, titled Ayiti Pi Djanm (“A Stronger Haiti”), will tackle food insecurity, nutritional status and building resilience for Haiti’s most vulnerable households.

Background on Food Insecurity in Haiti

Haiti has grappled with a growing need for humanitarian assistance in recent years. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) reported many key drivers of food insecurity, including the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the island nation in August 2021. Reduced rainfall and harvests in 2021 led to income loss among farmers, while insufficient government assistance and a general economic decline in the country due to rising inflation rates, depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the U.S. dollar and the economic blowback of the COVID-19 pandemic have only compounded the issue.

These factors left an estimated 4.3 million people facing crisis levels of food security by the end of 2021, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

In 2022, conditions only worsened with rising costs attributed to the conflict in Ukraine. Haiti is particularly vulnerable to shocks in the global food and fuel markets due to its heavy reliance on imports. Furthermore, the threat of the ongoing Atlantic hurricane season looms over the economically fragile nation.

A Stronger Haiti

At the International Event for the Financing of the Reconstruction of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti, USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman revealed their 5-year plan to combat Haiti’s struggle with food insecurity. The conference’s objective was to expand international attention and support to Haiti in response to the 2021 earthquake that caused close to $2 billion in damages across the nation. The project, Ayiti Pi Djanm, initially titled in Haitian Creole, translates to “A Stronger Haiti.”

The USAID program in Haiti is projected to reach nearly 90,000 Haitians across the Nord-Est and Sud departments with integral support. The efforts will include:

  • Community-level training on nutrition and nutritious foods
  • Financial education
  • Promotion of climate-smart agricultural practices
  • Distribution of food vouchers
  • Distribution of multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA)

USAID will partner with international NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to bring this program to fruition. Led by CRS, the project will focus on private sector investments to support local production of food crops, both to reduce food insecurity and foster opportunities for agricultural livelihood.

USAID and Earthquakes

Since the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010, USAID has been Haiti’s top donor, contributing around $5 billion in aid. Relief, recovery and long-term reconstruction assistance in 2010 included search and rescue efforts, the launch of emergency shelters and the construction of educational facilities. These past USAID programs in Haiti have been integral to the nation’s disaster response and economic stability in the face of new challenges. 

In 2021, the U.S. Government provided almost $105 million towards disaster response and risk reduction, including over $92 million from USAID. 

CRS has partnered with USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) since its outset in 1954, supporting BHA growth through advocacy to Congress and the White House. Together, these organizations have been successful in implementing emergency and ongoing efforts to tackle food insecurity in Haiti as well as other nations across the globe.

Carly Ryan Brister
Photo: Unsplash

Cholera Outbreak in HaitiHaiti is a country in the Caribbean with a history of significant economic, political and social turmoil. Disease, natural disasters, violence, inflation, corruption and poverty are among the particularly relevant issues, hindering the nation’s overall growth. Haitians have been protesting against their government in hopes of change since 2018. However, recently, the protests have turned exceptionally violent following Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s announcement that the government would eliminate fuel subsidies in the nation, nearly doubling the cost of gas. Haiti can no longer afford to supply subsidies as fuel inflation is rising globally due to the Russo-Ukrainian war. And now there is another crisis to be addressed — a cholera outbreak in Haiti. 

Protest and Violence

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with approximately 52.3% of the Haitian population living below the poverty line, a 15.7% unemployment rate in 2021 and over $2 billion in external debt. The elimination of fuel subsidies has an immediate impact on the livelihood of millions of Haitians. In response to the policy change, gangs are firing gunshots on open roads, burning tires on city streets, ransacking and inflaming buildings, throwing stones and getting into physical altercations.

Many children are out of school, exacerbating earlier school closures from other protest-based violence and the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the lack of fuel has already resulted in the shutdown of water delivery companies, banks and grocery stores and has caused a reduction of critical hospital-based services available to Haitians. Additionally, unemployment is also on the rise as workers are no longer able to afford the commute to their jobs.

Cholera Outbreak

Amid all this instability in Haiti comes a recent detection of a  cholera outbreak in the nation. Cholera is a potentially fatal bacterial disease spread through contaminated food or water that causes severe dehydration and diarrhea. The previous cholera outbreak in Haiti was in 2010 and it had devastating consequences. There were more than 820,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths, many of which could have been prevented, had the country been equipped with better infrastructure.

As of October 6, 2022, there were 12 cholera cases, 152 suspected cases, 107 hospitalizations and four deaths in the country. In its current political and economic state, the nation cannot afford a widespread outbreak. This would result in the additional closure of essential businesses and ensure the closure of schools. The lack of education for Haiti’s youth in recent years is especially a cause for concern as oftentimes education can be the key to escaping extreme poverty.

Concluding Thoughts

Though both the outbreak and the protests are valid causes for concern, there is hope for the citizens of Haiti. On October 7, 2022, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $7 million for U.N. agencies and their partners to provide urgent life-saving assistance. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths stated that “We must stand with the people of Haiti in their hour of need, cholera is preventable and treatable. Left unchecked, however, an outbreak could lead to cataclysmic levels of despair for the people of Haiti, who are already enduring tremendous suffering.” Furthermore, Prime Minister Henry recently sent out a request for international aid in Haiti which the United Nations responded to stating it will “support efforts to build consensus, reduce violence and promote stability in the country.” Together, the world is working to relieve the crisis in Haiti.

– Aarika Sharma
Photo: Unsplash

Localized Aid Efforts in HaitiA 2021 survey found that Haitians want to play a bigger decision-making role in the delivery of humanitarian aid to ensure its effectiveness. The majority of respondents not only want to see more localized aid in Haiti but greater transparency in aid distribution.

More Aid Needed Amid Latest Natural Disaster in Haiti

In August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in the southern peninsula, leaving hundreds of thousands needing emergency assistance. A month after the earthquake struck, Ground Truth Solutions conducted a survey in partnership with The New Humanitarian. Their goal was to interview locals grievously affected by the disaster and their response to foreign aid and humanitarian efforts. After gaining feedback from 1,251 local Haitians, data found that those surveyed felt humanitarian aid “fell short of their expectations.”

Long-Term Needs for Localized Aid

The survey found that humanitarian aid for emergencies and other dire disasters often does not align with locals’ “long-term (or even medium-term) priorities.” Only 14% of respondents said they understood how decisions were made regarding who would receive aid and who would not. Additionally, 64% of respondents said that this type of emergency aid does not help their communities sustain an independent development pathway.

Additional responses affirm that Haitians want autonomous development and decision-making in the form of localized aid. They prefer programs that support the independent growth of their communities and oppose the idea of becoming overly dependent on foreign aid. While the survey showed that respondents overwhelmingly support the belief that “Haitians themselves, not foreign aid, should help each other in future disasters,” respondents concurrently felt that foreign assistance does little to prepare local communities for autonomous development.

The Atteindre (Attain) Project

One of the projects already implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development that prioritizes community inclusion and localized aid in Haiti is the Atteindre (Attain) Project. In partnership with Mennonite Economic Development Associates, this project intends to help empower small local businesses in Haiti; funds will go toward supporting small businesses “develop business plans, access bank loans, [and] become formalized,” which will help increase their profits and Haiti’s overall economy. The Atteindre Project aligns with efforts for localized aid by working directly with Haitian organizations and helping business service providers. With support from USAID and MEDA, grants will be awarded to Haitian providers such as STRATÈGE, Agence d’Investissement et de Développement d’Entreprises, and Centre d’Entrepreneurship et de Leadership en Haïti to help support thousands of small, underserved businesses across Haiti with assistance, training and technical support.

USAID’s Commitment to Inclusion and Localized Aid Efforts

USAID recently announced its broader commitment to greater inclusivity and diversity in aid delivery across the globe. In a speech delivered on Nov. 4, 2021, Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, vowed that the agency’s new path to “inclusive [international] development” focuses on making aid more accessible, equitable and responsible. In doing so, USAID commits to making international aid more responsive to local communities and prioritizing “listen[ing] to what our partners in the countries where we work are asking of us.”

Power says that moving forward, USAID commits to allocating at least one-fourth of its funds directly to local partners over the next four years and that by the end of the decade, at least 50% of their funds will help “place local communities in the lead to either codesign a project, set priorities, drive implementation or evaluate the impact of [their] programs.”

Localized aid efforts in Haiti, including working with local leaders and organizations, will serve communities’ needs by offering clearer, more poignant solutions. USAID’s commitment to amplifying local voices and organizations through partnering with local organizations and providers is exactly the promise Haitians are asking for.

– Ashley Kim
Photo: Flickr

Malaria Eradication in the Caribbean
Malaria in today’s world is largely absent from the Caribbean due to the success of past eradication efforts. Despite this, total eradication in the Caribbean is not complete. The island of Hispaniola, which Haiti and the Dominican Republic shares, continues to combat the disease. In the 21st century, efforts focusing on the island have given hope that effective and complete elimination of the disease may be within reach. With the help of international allies, complete malaria eradication in the Caribbean is possible.

Understanding Malaria and Its Dangers

Malaria is a dangerous parasitic infection that humans can catch through female mosquito bites. Symptoms can manifest in various ways, such as fevers and muscle aches. Contracting the disease requires urgent medical care due to the severity of the illness. Symptoms can become extremely painful as they progress and, without treatment, malaria can result in death. While treatment can be effective, no vaccine currently exists against infection. This makes malaria an urgent issue that requires global action.

The dangers of malaria compound its impact on human health. The social and economic effects of malaria can be a major hindrance to a nation’s development. Pregnant women are one of the most vulnerable groups that malaria can affect. This threatens female attendance within education and hinders their participation in the general economy, thus widening the gender equality gap within affected nations such as Haiti or the Dominican Republic. The end result is that women are moving further into poverty.

A History of Malaria in the Caribbean

Malaria has existed across the globe for centuries with it being most prevalent in tropical regions. The Caribbean is no exception to this, however, there is some speculation regarding malaria’s introduction to the region. Theories have determined that malaria arrived in the Caribbean through European exploration of the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade. Epidemics continued to plague the entire region throughout the first half of the 20th century before widespread eradication efforts took hold.

Today, the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme has placed a majority of the Caribbean nations on its certified list of malaria-free countries and territories. Programs such as this have supported malaria eradication in the Caribbean, while investments into health care systems have also helped the region get to where it is at now. These programs are typically a mixture of mass treatment as well as a targeted treatment for the most at-risk groups. As a result, Haiti and the Dominican Republic remain the last two countries within the Caribbean awaiting malaria eradication.

The Last Strong Hold

In 2004, the Dominican Republic was experiencing a rise in malaria cases. This came decades after most of the Caribbean had eliminated it. Reported infections rose by 31% that year alone. Due to the country being a major tourist destination, malaria affected many international visitors. At least 14 international tourists from Western Europe and North America contracted malaria during the spike. Although the risk to tourists remained low and still is to this day, the presence of the disease acts as a deterrent for potential visitors. The Dominican Republic relies heavily on tourist revenue, as do many of its island neighbors. This means that any threat to the industry could result in further impoverishment for the nation’s citizens.

Malaria has an even stronger albeit diminishing hold on neighboring Haiti. Haiti came close to eradicating malaria in 1968 through the Global Eradication Program. As a result, malaria’s presence within Haiti dropped to less than 1%. However, unfortunately, Haiti did not sustain its efforts to eliminate malaria due to a lack of funding and political instability. Haiti saw a rise in malaria cases in the 70s and the turmoil that Haiti’s 2010 earthquake caused further stifled efforts to combat the disease. The most recent statistics for 2020 showed a total of 22,987 cases in Haiti. Limited funds and natural disasters, among other political disturbances, have prevented malaria from being eliminated from the island of Hispaniola.

Solutions

Haiti’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), along with support from the U.S.-based CDC, has helped implement widespread testing as well as initiatives to control mosquito populations. These efforts have seen malaria cases in Haiti reduce by 50% since 2009. In 2015, the CDC worked with the Haitian government and researchers to collect blood samples and carry out surveys to identify activities that may be putting individuals at risk of catching malaria. The surveys encompassed approximately 20% of the population in Haiti’s Verrettes and La Chapelle communes. These efforts also extend across the island into the Dominican Republic.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also began operations in Haiti in response to the 2010 earthquake. Rapid diagnostic testing has now become the main method of tracking the spread of malaria across Haiti. Malaria elimination in the Caribbean is now in sight due to international efforts and interventions. With continued help, total malaria eradication will be a reality.

– Bryce Mathurin Lindsay
Photo: Flickr

andrew-bagwell-practice-edit-5-hip-hop-artists-fighting-poverty
Originating from South Bronx, New York City in the late 1970s, the genre of hip-hop is one of the most popular styles of music in the U.S. Artists frequently rap and sing about political issues such as racism, classism and injustice with beats and melodies that engage a wide variety of people. Hip-hop as an art form is more than just music and consists of four key elements: Deejaying, rapping, graffiti painting and B-boying (a form of self-presentation). With fame and fortune, many hip-hop artists have also added charity to their repertoire. Here are five big-named hip-hop artists fighting poverty.

1. Lil Wayne

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, killing about 220,000 people and leaving thousands fending for their lives. Lil Wayne joined stars like Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson and more to record “We Are the World 25 For Haiti,” a re-record of Michael Jackson’s iconic song. Additionally, Lil Wayne has funded programs centered around mentoring youth and has helped rebuild a park in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it.

2. Eminem

In 2011, superstar Eminem released a video asking attendees of the V Festival to donate to Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, and he further tweeted his support of the nonprofit during his tour in 2014. Eminem also started the Marshall Mathers Foundation in 2002, a nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk youth and the disadvantaged in Detroit.

3. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar, currently one of the most famous hip-hop artists, has a long line of philanthropic work. In the U.S., Lamar has donated thousands of dollars to the programs for the Compton Unified School District, the very place he grew up. Additionally, in 2014, he went on a five-stop world tour, the proceeds of which went to Habitat for Humanity. In 2016, Lamar headlined the Global Citizen Festival, which helped fight gender inequality and extreme poverty, and provided increased access to education. The artist has also donated thousands to Red Cross.

4. The Game

Hip-hop artist The Game started The Robin Hood Project, an organization that aims to give back to people in need through donations. He came up with the idea after meeting a Nigerian immigrant in Australia who lived with 20 people in a one-bedroom apartment. He has also donated $1 million to Flint, Michigan in 2016 to help their water crisis.

5. Ludacris

In 2013, rapper and hip-hop artist Ludacris donated $50,000 to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The natural disaster killed more than 5,000 people and injured many more, and the musician felt compelled to share his wealth with those in need. He has also funded organizations that combat cancer, at-risk youth, AIDS and human trafficking.

Hip-hop artists have a history of rapping about current events, and their efforts of advocacy do not just stop at writing and performing songs. These artists have donated thousands of dollars to different organizations, some of them even going as far as starting their nonprofits, showing that anyone with the power to help can make the world a better place.

Yashavi Upasani
Photo: Flickr

Move for H2O
Move for H2O is a Canadian fundraising initiative in partnership with HOPE International where volunteers can participate in activities to raise money for water-insecure countries. Move For H2O’s 10th annual campaign selected the Haitian region of Fon Batis to support 4,989 people in the area who must walk 3 km uphill to the nearest water source, the Marianne Spring.

Exercise for a Cause

Move for H2O organizes public and virtual athletic events across Canada that individuals or teams can participate in while fundraising. Participants registered for events like Bike in Edmonton, Run in Vancouver and Kickbox in Burnaby, all of which the organizer hosted. Others held their own athletic fundraising events from kayak paddling to dog fetching.

Throughout the weeklong event, volunteers are provided with a fundraising page. This way, friends and family can cheer them on while they work out. Move for H2O encouraged participants to move 6 km to match the distance the people of Fon Batis walk daily for water, according to its website.

Organizers at Move for H2O were excited to provide for the people of Fon Batis through the 2022 fundraiser. Haiti remains one of the world’s most water-deprived countries, with 3.3 million people lacking access to clean water. Additionally, World Bank reported that water access in Haiti has decreased from 62% in 1990 to 52% in 2015, likely due to deforestation and a lack of sanitation infrastructure in rural regions.

HOPE International describes clean water as “the catalyzing step communities take to end the extreme poverty.” The nonprofit designated this year’s fundraising campaign with the purpose of constructing a water system in Haiti. It will bring clean water from the Marianne Spring directly to the people in the 12 neighborhoods of Fon Batis, instead of the other way around.

This development could directly impact the health of people. It could improve living conditions for the women and children who trek over two hours across high and uneven terrain to the Marianne Spring, according to Move for H2O.

Move for H2O’s Fundraising Impact

This year’s fundraiser, which took place from June 10th to June 18th, raised $152,453 for Fon Batis. Move for H2O posted a Twitter update following the fundraiser, stating that the money will go toward digging trenches, installing tanks, laying pipes and assembling taps for the water system.

Six kilometers of piping will send water from the spring into four tanks, according to Move for H2O’s website. The water will flow into community taps in Fon Batis after a treatment plant filters it. The organization foresees “profound transformation” coming to Fon Batis, “because water changes everything,” Move for H2O said on Twitter.

HOPE and Move for H2O’s commitment to providing water to families improved the lives of more than 12,000 people. Over the last 10 years, the fundraiser has raised about $1.07 million which went towards various communities like the El Capotillo District of Dominican Republic and Talaxcoc, Guatemala. Move for H2O is a strong example of how compassionate and committed individuals can create lasting impacts for the communities that need it most.

– Evan Lemole
Photo: Pixabay

Haitian Children’s Quality of LifeHaiti struggles with many issues: gang violence, poverty, lack of education and poor health care. All of these issues intertwine to ultimately create a knot of seemingly irreversible damage for Haitian youth. However, Together for Haiti is working to improve Haitian children’s quality of life through four key pillars.

Haitian Gang Violence

The capital of the island, Port-au-Prince, suffers from gang violence at the cost of its children. Most recently, since April 24, 2022, violence from warring gangs has led to the displacement of close to 17,000 people and the deaths of 188 people at minimum, as of June 3, 2022. Displaced Haitians have sought refuge in schools converted into shelters while others fled to the north of the city, causing massive travel problems. In May 2022 alone, Port-au-Prince noted 200 random-based kidnappings.

The prevalence of gangs and the violence that follows is often a product of areas suffering from poverty — Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $2,925 in 2020. Furthermore, Haiti ranks 170 out of 189 countries on the 2020 United Nations Human Development Index. Haiti’s Human Capital Index indicates that “a child born today in Haiti will grow up to be only 45[%]as productive as they could be if he or she had enjoyed full access to quality education and health care.”

In these circumstances, gang life can become a way to survive and make money when there are limited opportunities to forge another way of life and secure a brighter future. Gang membership provides protection in the dangerous environments that Haitian children are forced to grow up in, and soon enough, gangsterism becomes a generational occupation. In Haiti, particularly, gangs hold significant power. With no real army or strong police force, there is little hope of stopping large gangs who are better equipped than the small government forces trying to protect the 11 million people who live on the island.

Mortality and Health of Children

Widespread gang violence leads to the deaths of countless civilians, including children. But, Haiti also has infantile, child and maternal mortality rates higher than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, these rates are more comparable to Afghanistan and many African nations.

Like so many other places suffering from poverty, this is due to a lack of funding for the health care sector. In 2020, Haiti’s under-5 mortality rate stood at 60.5% deaths per 1,000 live births. In numbers, this equates to 16,214 deaths for children under 5.

Poverty raises the likelihood of premature death for Haitian children as impoverished households tend to lack the resources or access to services necessary for the proper health and well-being of a young child. Families dealing with poverty often experience malnutrition and several illnesses that can turn fatal as many impoverished families cannot afford the costs of health care and medicine.

Poverty in Haiti does not just affect its citizens, but also the medical facilities. Underfunding means the health care system lacks “adequate staffing, supplies and infrastructure” necessary to aid the nation’s people.

Together for Haiti Assists

Together for Haiti works toward providing resources to impoverished Haitian families so that they may secure a brighter future. The organization’s leader, Jean Alix Paul, has established four schools, two children’s homes and one human trafficking shelter, among many other initiatives. The organization focuses on spiritual development, educational development, economic development and physical development to create a better quality of life for impoverished Haitians, especially the nation’s most vulnerable children.

Through its focus on education, Together for Haiti provides schooling to about 2,000 children with four schools situated in four disadvantaged Haitian communities. Together for Haiti also provides teacher training, university bursaries and vocational training. The organization aims to strengthen Haiti’s economy by offering micro-loans, helping people create businesses and providing training on improved farming practices.

The efforts of Together for Haiti, and other organizations with similar goals, are improving Haitian children’s quality of life, giving them hope for a brighter tomorrow.

– Kelsey Jensen
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Haiti
Haiti is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, but it is the most HIV-sickened nation outside of Africa. Having 2.2% of adults with the HIV virus makes Haiti the Caribbean nation with the highest rate of HIV, about twice that of the second-highest, the Dominican Republic 1.1%. Some are making progress in addressing this issue. However, it needs more work in order to significantly hamper HIV/AIDS in Haiti.

The Epidemic

In 2018, there were 160,000 cases of HIV in Haiti. Only two-thirds of those knew that they have the disease. In 2018, 2,700 Haitians died from AIDS-related health problems. The height of the epidemic occurred in the 1990s when more than 3% of the population of Haiti had contracted the HIV virus.

Effect on the United States

The disease arrived in Haiti in 1966. After the subsequent AIDS epidemic that occurred 15 years later in the 1980s, the United States has committed itself to addressing the AIDS problem, especially internationally. With regard to Haiti’s proximity to the United States, it is clear why it would be in the United States’ best interest to provide HIV and AIDS relief aid to prevent the further spread of the disease, not only for the betterment of Haiti but also from a national security standpoint to prevent the spread of the disease throughout the United States.

Progress in Fighting HIV/AIDS in Haiti

Since the peak of the epidemic in the 1990s, the percentage of the population of Haiti with HIV or AIDS is down from nearly 3.2% to 1.9% of the population, according to UNAIDS. One can attribute much of the success to the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which has aimed to increase access to HIV health services across Haiti.

Despite some success, issues like poverty and discrimination have made it difficult for individuals to stay on their HIV health programs and continue getting treatment from health services. Due to this, the U.S. and U.N. have encouraged a greater degree of community-led monitoring dedicated to implementing more effective strategies for providing HIV health services, according to UNAIDS. Community-led monitoring will give accurate assessments of the services being provided at the patient level.

Haiti’s Civil Society Forum Observatory is spearheading this system of community-led monitoring with the idea of holding HIV health services accountable for improved access and quality of these services.

Knowledge is Power

In order to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS in Haiti, the public must become more aware of what this disease entails. The most significant issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Haiti are discrimination and poverty.

The Haitian Red Cross Society, with help from U.S. foreign aid, is advocating to increase education on HIV transmission and prevention. The hope of this education and awareness initiative is to end the stigmatization and discrimination against those with the disease.

The Haitian Red Cross Society has been working towards providing better education to Haitians regarding HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention since 2004. Since then the rate of HIV and AIDS decreased across the country.

The Future of HIV/AIDS in Haiti

The U.S. has made incredible efforts in providing Haiti with health services to combat HIV and AIDS. However, with 2,700 HIV-related deaths in 2018, combatting the epidemic needs more work. Education initiatives and U.S. aid services help reduce the rate of HIV and AIDS, which in turn can help reduce poverty in Haiti. With the help of U.S. health service aid and education, the future of Haiti looks to be a brighter one with less HIV and AIDS.

– Declan Harkness
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in Haiti
Because of its status of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti’s maternal mortality rate is estimated to be about 521 out of 100,000 births. Many babies do not have mothers to feed them and caretakers have to watch babies slowly starve from malnutrition. Here is some information about maternal mortality in Haiti as well as what some are doing about it.

Haiti’s Lack of Maternal Health Care

Approximately 70% of women give birth at home in Haiti. For the women who do have access to a midwife or a trained doctor, the necessary medical equipment and a sterile environment are lacking.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are as few as 23 trained health care workers for every 1,000 people. There is approximately one midwife for every 1,000 pregnant women.

Reasons for Maternal Mortality in Haiti

Mothers face a higher risk of complications during birth beyond a lack of maternal care. Oftentimes, maternal mortality can occur due to mothers not having the necessary baby delivery equipment, especially if the mother experiences labor complications.

Approximately 26% of the maternal mortality rate in Haiti has been related to hypertension during childbirth which results in death. Meanwhile, 23% of mothers die from postpartum hemorrhaging and another 10% of the maternal mortality rate is a result of infection and obstructions in labor in Haiti.

Result for the Babies

In Haiti, breastfeeding is one of the few ways to feed babies. The formula is extremely expensive and rare to obtain. After a mother dies, the babies have very few options. In 2019, 11-month-old Jezil died from malnourishment after her mother died. Jezil’s grandmother could not afford formula and fed Jezil with rice water. Jezil’s grandmother watched her granddaughter perish from an easily remedied situation if she had access to formula. Another option for families is to send babies to orphanages in hopes that the baby has better access to health care and education. Approximately 25,000 children live in orphanages that have at least one parent or a caretaker alive.

Solutions in the Case of Maternal Mortality

The Potter’s Family is a nonprofit organization based in Saint Louis du Nord in the Northwest region of Haiti. Tore Dobbie founded the nonprofit in November 2019. Over time, Tore has witnessed many babies die from malnutrition or go to orphanages because their families could not take care of them after their mothers died. In response, the founder began a formula program that aims to keep families together by providing aid to caretakers who have experienced maternal mortality.

In early 2019, David’s caretaker came to Tore in hopes of finding a solution to feed him. David was discovered in a pile of garbage before being taken to a church to see if anyone was willing to take care of him. A woman with a baby volunteered and soon realized she could not feed two babies. Tore provided the formula for David and he stayed with his new family.

Programs similar to the Potter’s Family give another option for families who have been through maternal mortality in Haiti. The programs help provide a means to feed babies while keeping the babies out of orphanages and growing up with their families.

Chris Karenbauer
Photo: Flickr