In the past seven years, Haiti has experienced extreme devastation due to natural disasters. In 2010, an earthquake displaced 1.5 million people and as efforts were forming to treat the damage caused by the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. When a natural disaster hits Haiti, 90 percent of the population is at risk, making Haiti one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. This vulnerability results in immense damages, as can be seen in Hurricane Matthew causing damages equivalent to 32 percent of the GDP. Now, Haiti is making immense strides to redevelop and prepare for future natural disasters with partnerships with various organizations and countries.
Here are five development projects in Haiti that aim to re-establish security for the population affected by natural disasters and secure sustainable goals for Haiti’s economy.
- Caracol Industrial Park: The Caracol Industrial Park is a 300 million dollar project primarily funded by the U.S. government. The industrial park was opened in Caracol, Haiti in 2012 and is the biggest investment Haiti has received since the earthquake in 2010. Caracol is a small town, six hours north of Haiti’s Capital and far from the epicenter of the earthquake. The project aims to attract additional international investments to Haiti and was backed by the Clinton Foundation and Sae-A Trading Co., a Korean Textile manufacturer. Currently, approximately 9,000 employees work at the park. While the job growth provided by the project has been slow, it is estimated that once fully completed, the park will offer over 100,000 jobs.
- Port-au-Prince Municipal Renovation Project: This is a 4.7 billion dollar development project funded by China. The project focuses on infrastructure development in the capital of Haiti. There are currently proposals running to re-engineer 12 roads, install a new water purification and sanitation plant, as well as a new power station and to supply reliable cell service. The Haitian company, Bati Ayiti S.A., is the driving force behind securing the Chinese investment and propelling the project. If the project pulls through, Haiti will receive much needed advancements in infrastructure.
- Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE): The ORE is a small, grassroots organization established in Haiti to improve the lives of the rural population. The ORE was established in Haiti in 1985 and now focuses on establishing stability in rural communities that were hit by the recent natural disasters. Unfortunately, it is said that Haiti is “so deforested that floods periodically drown thousands of people”. To combat deforestation and provide economic, environmental, and agricultural security to rural communities, ORE has implemented programs to plant high revenue trees, and provide non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds and start new marketing programs for farmers.
- Haiti Development Project (HDP): The HDP is a non-profit organization established in New York, focused on providing education to the most poverty-stricken, remote areas in northwest Haiti. In 2010, HDP launched the One Plus One Education Initiative, to annually fund the primary school enrollment of 100 students in the rural region of La Vallée. HDP now provides education to over 200 elementary school students in Lacorne. The northwest of Haiti is one of the most isolated, underdeveloped areas in the country and not much is known about the population there. HDP purposefully focused their efforts on improving the education quality in the northwest in order to develop more information about the population and bring opportunities for future generations to escape poverty.
- Timberland’s Reforestation Project: The reforestation project proposed by Timberland, an American shoe company, was planned for 2010 but the plans changed due to the massive earthquake that year. The fact that Timberland continued its mission to contribute to reducing the deforestation in Haiti after the earthquake, when aid was needed elsewhere, is a testament to the importance of revitalizing the land in Haiti. According to Brittanica, “Agriculture is the largest sector of the Haitian economy, accounting for about one fourth of the GDP, but only one fifth of the land is considered suitable for agriculture”. Timberland completed their one million dollar tree-planting program in 2015 and hopes to use Haiti as a sustainable supplier of cotton in the future.
Before 2010, nearly 80 percent of Haiti’s population lived below the poverty line. Haiti is still the poorest country in the western hemisphere but their poverty has decreased to 58.5 percent. Haiti is strongly dependent on international funding, with over 20 percent of its annual budget coming from foreign aid or direct budget support. These development projects in Haiti illustrate the variety of international investments in Haiti that are working to support poverty reduction and establish sustainable goals within the country.
– Eliza Gresh