10 Facts About Life Expectancy in HaitiThe following 10 facts about life expectancy in Haiti reveal a domino-effect of massive natural disasters, fragile health care infrastructure and low access to preventative care in a country where half of the population lives in extreme poverty. On the bright side, poverty rates have improved and can continue to uplift if aid focuses on establishing long-term preventative care facilities and the government can effectively communicate with programs to meet needs. With the improvements in poverty rates and health care, life expectancy will consequentially improve.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Haiti

  1. The life expectancy in Haiti is 63.5 years, lower than that of its neighbors Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Female are projected to live longer with the life expectancy of 65.7 years while men are expected to live 61.3 years on average. The country’s population consists of 10.98 million people. The healthy life expectancy is alarmingly low, standing at only 44 years.
  2. More than half of the population lives on less than $2 a day, categorized as suffering from extreme poverty. A $2 daily budget allows little to no room for medicine, preventative care, hospitals or emergency clinics.
  3. The country has also seen various improvements over the last 30 years, as 1970 saw life expectancy rates that were as low as 47 years.
  4. The child mortality rate drastically improved since 1960 when it hovered around 249 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today’s rate of 71.7 deaths per 1,000 live births means care access for infants and children with complications or illnesses still needs to advance.
  5. On 12 January 2010, earthquake disintegrated medical and treatment facilities in Port-au-Prince within seconds. The magnitude 7 earthquake, powerful enough to destroy most of the city, put the medical system back to the most rudimentary stage with few facilities and overloaded the hospitals with the wounded people. Between 46,000 and 300,000 Haitians died and most areas were forced to wait for Doctors without Borders humanitarian aid for over a month due to the critical devastation of roads and airports.
  6. The country never had proper funds to establish a secure health care infrastructure amidst a crushing sequence of natural disasters. Quick and accessible care often spells the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, Haitian clinics that would have saved lives were destroyed in the earthquake. Of course, aid can never replace a health care system. Many international organizations partner with the country to provide health care access and immediate care. Plenty International, whose past and ongoing projects in Haiti include partnering with Haitian clinics, channeling medicine and supplies, including water sanitation tablets and offering Haitian midwives training in Home Based Life-Saving Skills, interventions that save women and children’s lives, is one of those organizations.
  7. After the 2010 earthquake, cases of cholera developed from unsanitary water conditions and lack of health care. By 2016, this disease had sickened 770,000 people and the U.N. promised to bring in funding to compensate the families of the deceased and ill. Cholera is not the only concern as Haiti suffers the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean at approximately 150,000 cases in 2016. Around 55 percent of the sufferers had access to antiretroviral treatment, an improved rate from 2010 when there were 10 percent more HIV-caused deaths. Progress shows up in malnutrition rates as well, as the number of undernourished children dropped significantly from 2006 to 2012 due to the government ramping up programs. As of May 2012, services included 285 outpatient programs, 16 inpatient stabilization units for severely affected children, 174 baby feeding tents and 350 supplementary nutrition programs.
  8. Annual per capita expenditure for health care is a stark $13. In comparison, this number is $180 in the Dominican Republic. After the administration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose presidency was toppled in 2004, the health care budget took a hefty slash. Hopefully, as Haiti strives to create more sustainability in its health care infrastructure, the current government administration will prioritize preventative care and have the ability to increase the budget.
  9. Habitat for Humanity, responding to the need for structures and sustainable living situations after the earthquake, organized Pathways to Permanence, developing urban areas and teaching about land rights and finances. Their HOME program also provides access to long-term financing to reduce the housing deficit. They have helped rebuild the district Simon-Pelé, north of capital Port-au-Prince, whose former structures were predominately self-built. The organization also partnered with the community to provide water and sanitation projects and vocational training for adults.
  10. Text message donations from all over the U.S. brought immediate funding for disaster relief. A nongovernmental organization named Innovating Health International (IHI) combines community-oriented disease research, collaboration with local perspectives and prevention awareness to treat women with a range of chronic illnesses. IHI is carrying out the widest-reading study of chronic disease in a low-income country in the world.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Haiti highlight the hard road ahead to establish a sustainable infrastructure to address the country’s health care needs. Part of the struggle lies with its need for disaster-relief programs, many of which operated mainly to bring emergency care. As Haiti stabilizes its economic and employment rates, and more citizens can afford or be provided with preventative care, the crisis will decelerate. However, the economic, political, and health-care infrastructure all require stabilizing and the continued partnering of foreign aid for the country to progress to a more sustainable future.

– Hannah Peterson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 facts about girls’ education in HaitiEducation reform in Haiti has provided opportunities for women and young girls to escape the conditions of extreme poverty in the country. However, girls continue to struggle in getting an affordable education and traditional gender norms challenge the potential opportunities for women. Haiti ranks 177th out of 186 countries in the world in terms of national spending on education. Advocating for the benefits of education for young girls can break these barriers. In the text below, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Haiti are presented.   

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Haiti

  1. Girls have shown an increase in primary school enrollment. From 2008 to 2012, primary school attendance for girls has grown to 77.7 percent compared with boys at 76.7 percent.
  2. Haiti’s education system has some challenges as ineffective teaching methods contribute to low-quality education. In addition, there is a persistent shortage of qualified teachers who remain unpaid. Around half of the public sector of teachers lack basic qualifications, 80 percent of them have not received any pre‐service training and 25 percent have never had a formal education or have attained a secondary school.
  3. The 2010 earthquake left Haiti in shambles and further damaged already-weak school infrastructure. The earthquake destroyed 4,000 schools, including one of the biggest educators of Haitian women and girls, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. Schools have struggled to provide students with a quality education. In some instances, children aged 5 to 12 attended classes in one-room local churches. Following the earthquake, these were temporary measures to shelter student so they could resume their schooling.
  4. Educate a Child is an organization that implemented a project called Quality Basic Education for Out of School Children (OOSC) with the goal to increase access to education by building primary school options in Haiti, as well as expanding them. The project’s goal is to reach at least 50,000 school children or OOSC within the following sub-groups of girls and boys: in domestic servitude situations, in rural and semi-rural areas, in rural farm situations without economic means to attend school and in street or semi-street situations. Currently, there is one OOSC program in Haiti. The project benefits parents of OOSC, teachers, school officials and an estimate of 227,000 children.
  5. Young girls with little or no education are more likely to have children and be victims of domestic violence. About 70 percent of women in Haiti have been victims of gender-based domestic violence. One survey found that 13.1 percent of girls and 14.6 percent of boys between the ages of 10 and 14 who were not enrolled in school were among the estimated 150,000 to 500,000 children who lived with non-relatives as unpaid domestic servants, and 65 percent of them being girls. Girls who are unable to attend school go to domestic labor and become vulnerable to physical, sexual and psychological abuse, unlike the girls who finish primary and secondary school who are more likely to escape these conditions and marry later in their adult years.
  6. Gender discrimination continues to be an obstacle for girls seeking access to education. Children from the ages of 5 to 17 work as unpaid domestic laborers. These children are also called restavek, and the majority of them are girls. Though girls enter school on par with boys, they are marginalized and are subject to higher dropout rates.
  7. Most Haitian schools follow French education model and French is used on the national tests. This creates a language barrier since most Haitians speak Creole. Less than 22 percent of Haitian primary school children pass the entrance examination at the end of grade five. About 13 percent of girls succeed in these entrance exams, while the rest are ill-prepared and unable to proceed to secondary school.
  8. The literacy rate is approximately 61 percent- 64 percent for males and 57 percent for females. Haiti Now is an organization committed to investing in accelerated educational programs for girls vulnerable to domestic servitude and at risk to drop out. They build on literacy skills by distributing and purchasing textbooks for young girls. As of 2016, 7,246 textbooks have been distributed to classrooms throughout Haiti and 425 girls have been recipients to textbooks.
  9. Malnutrition and natural disasters pose an obstacle for girls to stay in school. The World Food Program (WFP) delivers daily hot meals to about 485,000 school children in over 1,700 predominantly public schools throughout Haiti. WFP found that girls’ education contributes to a 43 percent reduction in child malnutrition over time, while food availability accounts for 26 percent reduction. For families who struggle to provide food at home, food programs in school also ensure that girls stay in school and are focused and ready to learn.
  10. The access to primary education in Haiti has improved with 90 percent of primary school-aged children enrolled in school to date. Although these changes are an improvement in Haiti’s education system, quality education remains a challenge. Many students repeat a grade and about 53 percent drop out before completing primary school, while 16 percent of girls stop attending primary school altogether.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Haiti demonstrate how barriers are broken and how conditions continue to improve for girls that are eager to learn. However, gender discrimination continues to be an obstacle to Haiti’s development in education. Despite these inequities, women in Haiti continue to be the necessary leaders, caregivers, professionals and heads of households by serving their communities and responding in times of crisis. As Haiti continues to rebuild, it will be critical to providing educational opportunities for the current generation of girls to ensure sustainable development efforts are met.

– Luis Santos
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in HaitiOn January 12, 2010, large scale earthquake occurred, affecting the island of Hispaniola and most severely affecting the small country of Haiti. Five years after this catastrophe, many people in this country still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

Earthquake Consequences on Mental Health in Haiti

As a result of the earthquake, over 90.5 percent of Haitians had relatives that either died or were seriously injured and 93 percent saw dead bodies. Moreover, 24.6 percent of the earthquake survivors developed PTSD symptoms and 28.3 percent developed major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms. That accounts for more than half the population suffering from mental illness post-quake.

It is not surprising that so many people were traumatized by the event, as the quake left more than two million affected, 222,750 killed, 80,000 bodies missing, 188,383 houses destroyed or damaged and 1.5 million displaced. Before the earthquake, the mental health system in Haiti was almost non-existent mostly due to stigma.

Problems in Resolving the Issue

The good news is that the earthquake united Haitians to put some focus on mental health, still not nearly enough, but just enough to get the ball rolling. However, due to the overwhelming need for mental health services and very limited resources, most Haitians are not getting the psychiatric help they need. Now that mental health issues are more widespread, there is a stronger push for the government to invest more in training professionals and increase resources for mental health in Haiti.

One of the issues around Haitians not receiving mental health is religion. Mental health issues tend to be attributed to supernatural forces, where three out of four Haitians will see an herbalist or Vodou priests for treatment instead of seeking clinical services. This is due to both cultural beliefs and inadequate resources for mental health. Clinical practice in Haiti must include mental health treatment intersected with Vodou beliefs to effectively care for patients of the country.

Center for Addiction and Mental Health

Out of more than 90 agencies that offered outreach to Haiti, only three offered psychiatric care. Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Office of Transformative Global Health in Canada is one of those agencies. The organization collaborates with 40 religious healers of Haiti to provide cognitive behavioral therapy in an effective way that is in conjunction with cultural beliefs.

The adoption of task-shifting, or dedicating low-cost mental health workers such as community health workers (CHWs) who operate at the community and clinic levels to supplement integrated care, will help with efforts to decentralize mental health care. These improvements are being made in Haiti, however, there is still a long way to go. More investment in the health care system is needed to implement adequate mental health treatment for those still suffering from the trauma of the quake, and more generally, mental health treatment is needed for all.

In improving services for mental health in Haiti, poverty can also be reduced. Implementing adequate treatment can have far-reaching effects, as poor mental health is often the root cause of other health conditions, and it can inhibit people from participating in social and economic development.

Although not enough outreach to Haiti involved mental health services, mental health in Haiti is improving. Through the integration of community services between psychotherapy and religious or cultural practices, agencies like CAMH are facilitating change in the country. Reducing those inhibited by mental disorders also creates more contributors to the community and less burden placed on society due to mental disability. However, more funding is needing in the mental health practice to reduce illness and poverty.

– Anna Power

Photo: Google

How Politics Affect PovertyIn the last decade, there have been many studies regarding how politics and various government institutions shape poverty.

For the poorest and most vulnerable, the way in which their governments operate makes a profound difference in their lives. The incapacity of government institutions to prevent conflict, provide basic security or basic services can have detrimental consequences for their citizens, especially for the poor.

How Politics Affect Poverty

The instability of economic growth can make countries depend indefinitely on foreign aid. In countries where cultural or ethnic groups feel that there is economic, political and social inequality, wars are more likely to occur, causing a vicious cycle that leads to poverty.

In many instances the poor are marginalized and their voices are not heard. The poor, more than any other group, rely on basic public services.

These services work better for the poor when poor citizens participate in reforms of service delivery. In conflict-affected states, the supply of these services is very scarce.

Political instability, poor governance and corruption are a major phenomenon affecting poverty in the world today.

The Case of Haiti and Madagascar

For example, rudimentary to the prevalent problem of poverty in Haiti is the extensive history of political turmoil and the lack of governance.

Corruption and the misuse of public funds resulted in a reduction in the quality of all public services for the country. This includes the fundamental areas of traditional governmental responsibility, such as the police, the justice system and the provision of elemental infrastructure.

This makes Haiti the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world.

Madagascar is another example of how politics affects poverty. Madagascar was a country with a lot of economic potential before the big crisis of 2008.

Before the crisis, Madagascar had economic growth of 5 percent per year but economic growth became stagnant from 2008 up until 2013.

Since 2009, Madagascar has been in an intense political turmoil created by an unconstitutional change of government.

The political crisis and instability created uncertainty for private investment. Throughout these years of political upheaval, Madagascar’s social and economic growth became severely damaged.

Discriminatory Laws

Racial, gender and ethnic discrimination are directly related to how politics affects poverty in some countries of the world and it needs to be addressed if it is to successfully decrease inequality and poverty.

For example, in Bangladesh, discriminatory family laws on marriage, separation and divorce push some women further into poverty.

In 20 years, Bangladesh has made great progress in its life expectancy and raised it by 10 years and has reduced infant mortality by more than half.

According to recent studies, both the rich and the poor are benefiting from these improvements.

However, according to the Human Rights Watch, women in the country do not benefit from these gains due to discriminatory family laws that push them deeper into poverty.

Migration is another aspect related to how politics affects poverty.

Migrant workers usually do not engage in political action about wages and conditions and they also lack the rights associated with citizenship and residency.

The laws governing immigration also often deprive these workers of labor or welfare protection, compel their ability to seek adequate working conditions.

Nongovernmental organizations’ Role

Nongovernmental organizations are an important part in helping alleviate poverty in many underdeveloped and third world countries.

For example, these organizations complement government in mobilizing additional resources in benefiting the greater number of people in need and enhancing program results through their participation in project management, monitoring and evaluation.

Typically, people fall into four categories of poverty that require different approaches.

The first category is made of people who are temporarily incapable of work, the second category consists of those who have some resources but lack business skills or efficiency.

The third category is made up of those who are capable of work but external conditions or resources like jobs are poor and the fourth category comprises those who are permanently incapacitated, such as the severely disabled.

Nongovernmental organizations can provide huge help for the first and the second category.

Unlike some development players, nongovernmental organizations are more willing to help and provide innovative solutions to the people’s problems allowing them to gain support sooner.

Policymakers must use conscientious new approaches to generate productive jobs, increase the minimum wage, ensure investment in low-income communities, improve education and training and create more opportunities for everyone to apply their talents.

In conclusion, it is important that all governmental institutions become aware of the problem that poverty brings to societies and the impact that it has in the economic growth and development of a nation.

By becoming fully aware and not ignoring it anymore, policymakers have the responsibility to create laws that will help alleviate poverty in their communities.

It is important to tackle it and not to continue blaming the individual citizen for his misfortune but to provide guidance and opportunities for poor people to step out of the hole they’re in.
Photo: Unsplash

Building HomesThe rule of three declares that a human cannot survive without a shelter any more than three hours.

If lost in the wilderness, an individual may choose to build a makeshift tent using the natural materials found around. In rural communities in the world, entire families are desperately relying on tents as their shelters.

These families live in survival mode daily, as their homes and living conditions can drastically change in a moment’s notice.

Living in inadequate housing leads to many health problems because of poor sanitation. With 1.5 million children under the age of 5 dying from water-borne illnesses like diarrhea, improved sanitation could cut down diarrhea-related deaths by more than a third.

Also, proper housing could ultimately increase the survival rate of people as concrete floors reduce the incidences of parasitic infections and a stable roof would protect families from extreme weather.

More than billion people worldwide suffer daily from living in the slums or in survival mode tents.

New Story’s housing project aims to change that. This nonprofit organization began a project that would bring together the donations and local workers to build sustainable and secure housing for rural communities.

Transparency of New Story’s Housing Project

New Story’s housing project also promises that every penny of a donation goes into building these homes.

As it can be difficult for some donors to trust a nonprofit organization to use the funds honestly, New Story works with complete transparency to earn the trust of the donors.

As a result, New Story publicizes its spending in detail for anyone to see. For example, the home cost breakdown for a New Story community in Nuevo Cuscátlan, El Salvador, totals to $6,014. This includes the cost of the foundation, roof, concrete walls, door and windows, interior and electrical wiring, bathroom fixings and a sewage system.

Another great way that New Story offers irrefutable proofs of the fruits of the labor by the communities and donors is that the organization will videotape a family moving into the specific home that those specific funds had built.

Through these consistent and truthful updates, donors and witnesses alike can attest to the transparency of the organization.

In the upcoming period, New Story plans on using 3D-printing technology to potentially build an 800-square-foot home in just 24 hours for $4,000 or less.

The Effects of the New Story’s Housing Project

New Story emphasizes working together with the local community. This is because it believes that working with local partners and encouraging community involvement allows for the most effective operation of the construction.

The organization first finds out what the locals really need and what they consider to be important features for housing in their region. After that, the designing becomes focused on the people as homes are built to accommodate and provide for these families.

New Story’s housing project also stresses the importance of planning for a community as having a home is not the only factor that improves livelihoods. This is why New Story is committed to building several homes in one community as it would create a thriving community with schools, markets, and opportunities for the people.

The building process also brings in local workers and materials to stimulate the local economies while exposing the locals to a new set of skills such as construction and urban planning.

New Story’s project showed that proper housing opens new opportunities for people. Once families had homes that could protect them, sickness reduced drastically.

A safe home that was guaranteed to be habitable provided the chance for families to focus on income and their futures.

Positive Examples

Since 2015, this organization has been working in Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico. New Story states that it works with local people to find the most desperate and destitute communities to focus on.

In Haiti, New Story built 534 homes in eight communities for 1,848 people. In El Salvador, it built 190 homes in five communities for 769 people. In Bolivia, it built 59 homes in one community for 177 people.

One example of a participant of New Story’s housing is Maria-Rose Delice. After her home was destroyed as a consequence of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she was living in tents with her four children.

When New Story’s housing project had created a home for her and her children, Delice’s life was instantaneously lifted from living in survival mode. Instead of survival, she can now focus on other activities that can further benefit her life financially and comfortable. The security of her own New Story home has given her new opportunities.

“I’d like to start a business,” said Delice. “I’ll also be able to build a fence and start a garden. Pinto beans, bananas white beans – everything!”

Nonprofit organizations such as New Story are giving new life and hope for people in rural areas.

The basic need of housing is finally being addressed properly and with integrity by New Story.

Initiatives such as New Story’s housing project connect donors with recipients around the world as well as improve and stimulate the local economy for future developments.

– Jenny S. Park
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in HaitiFrom the devastation caused by the 2010 earthquake and the Haitian Creole word “chanje,” meaning “change” and “transformation,” hope for Haitians has emerged in the form of the Chanje Movement. According to the movement’s website if you can say yes to change and share it with the community and the world, then you could be considered as a part of the Chanje Movement.

Yet, beyond such motivating and inclusive statements, the Chanje Movement tangibly combats poverty in Haiti by transforming the lives of the next generation through addressing basic needs, creating healthy communities and providing leadership training.

The Chanje Movement believes that young people in Haiti have the power to reconstruct a nation in which more than 50 percent of the population is poor and 2.5 million people need humanitarian aid eight years after the earthquake that took 316,000 lives.

Five of the projects the Chanje Movement promotes on its website highlight five symptoms of poverty in Haiti. They are described below.

The Dream Center

The Dream Center is intended to be a community center where Haitians can gather to have a variety of physical and social needs meant. In Croix-des-Bouquets, a village about eight miles northeast of Port-au-Prince, people are working on building in stages a space for a church with a local pastor, a medical clinic, an education center, a trade school, a home for orphans and an auditorium for special events.

Specifically, the Chanje Movement desires for this type of space to be replicable throughout Haiti, so as they equip the Haitians of Croix-des-Bouquets, they can, in turn, spread similar positive change throughout the country. The World Bank claims that one of the key needs poverty in Haiti has created is the investment in people, both in their individual futures and access to basic services and collectively as a community. The Dream Center aims to accomplish these needs.

Clean Water

So many places in Haiti need clean water that the Chanje Movement usually has a waitlist for when they receive donations. Less than 50 percent of the rural population has access to clean water. This is because rural areas often depend on piped water systems that require hand pumps. These systems require funds for maintenance, so they are often neglected. The lack of clean water unsurprisingly leads to health problems, such as the cholera epidemic after the 2010 earthquake that claimed 8,700 lives. The whole system is tenuous, as exemplified by the resurgence in cholera in early 2015 following heavy rains.

Build a Home

Tens of thousands of Haitians lost homes in the earthquake and about 55,000 people still live in tents and makeshift homes eight years later. These abodes do not offer safety, shelter from tropical storms, insulation or hygienic conditions. The Chanje Movement’s efforts to build real homes benefits individuals and the Haitian economy, as Haitian workers are employed to construct them.

Micro Loans

With donated funds, the Chanje Movement loans up to $500 to Haitians to be paid back in six months to two years, increasing economic stability by allowing Haitians a chance to start businesses. When the loans are paid back, funds are immediately reinvested in a new entrepreneur. The World Bank claims that helping Haitians use their skills to start their own businesses will be crucial in ending poverty in Haiti, as the income a business provides will allow assets to accumulate, protecting the next generation of Haitians from the devastating consequences of a natural disaster like the earthquake with savings.

Additionally, helping Haitians generate more steady income through their own businesses could address the orphan crisis that is a huge issue related to poverty in Haiti. Currently, 30,000 children live in orphanages in Haiti, but 80 percent of these orphans have at least one living parent, a discrepancy caused by the homelessness following the earthquake.

Backpacks for Kids

Meanwhile, backpacks full of supplies help provide for some of the country’s orphans at the homes the Chanje Movement has for children in Croix-des-Bouquets.

Daniel DiGrazia attends Crossline Church, a church partnered with a Christian organization called The Global Mission that currently connects 18 churches and humanitarian outreaches around the world, including the Chanje Movement. DiGrazia has been to Haiti four times in the past three years and explains that a key part of distributing these supplies, which he helped with earlier this summer, is playing with the kids that live in these orphanages.

Because he keeps going back, he says, “I have grown in relationship with a multitude of the people there.” While DiGrazia’s team helped the Chanje Movement administer relief during his trips, the reason he keeps going back is to show love to the Haitians by continuing to invest in these relationships.

He explains, “I’d love to go again next year. It is a really good experience and I really love the people there. And I really don’t want to just be there and gone. I want to build relationships and keep coming back and see how they’re doing.”

For those that cannot immediately travel to Haiti, supporting the Chanje Movement tangibly combats poverty in Haiti. In the past year, thousands of Haitians had basic needs met with clean water and food provided by the Chanje Movement. This organization has also trained 500 future leaders and helped 75 children access education, taking steps towards Haiti without poverty and the need for humanitarian aid.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Haiti
From the devastation of the 2010 earthquake, and the Haitian Creole word meaning “change” and “transformation,” hope for Haitians has emerged in the form of the Chanje Movement.

According to the movement’s website, “If you can say, ‘Yes, I want to experience change and I want to share it with my community and my world,’ then you can consider yourself part of the Chanje Movement!”

Addressing Five Symptoms of Poverty in Haiti

Yet beyond such motivating and inclusive statements, the Chanje Movement tangibly combats poverty in Haiti by transforming the lives of the next generation through addressing basic needs, creating healthy communities and providing leadership training.

The Chanje Movement believes that young people in Haiti have the power to reconstruct a nation where more than 50 percent of the population is poor and 2.5 million people need humanitarian aid eight years after the earthquake that took 316,000 lives.

Five of the projects the Chanje Movement promotes on its website highlight five symptoms caused by poverty in Haiti.

The Dream Center

This Dream Center is intended to be a community center where Haitians can gather for a variety of physical and social needs.

In Croix de Bouqets, they are working on building in stages a space for a church with a local pastor, a medical clinic, an education center, a trade school, a home for orphans and an auditorium for special events. Specifically, the Chanje Movement desires for this type of space to be replicable throughout Haiti, so they can equip the Haitians of Croix de Bouqets and, in turn, spread similar positive change throughout Haiti.

The World Bank claims that one of the key needs for eliminating poverty in Haiti is an investment in people — both in their individual futures and access to basic services, and collectively as a community. The Dream Center aims to accomplish both of these endeavors.

Clean Water

Numerous places in Haiti require clean water and to address this need, the Chanje Movement usually has a waitlist for when they receive donations.

Less than 50 percent of the rural population has access to clean water as rural areas often depend on hand-pumped, piped water systems. These systems require maintenance funds and, as a result, are often neglected.

The lack of clean water unsurprisingly leads to health problems, such as the cholera epidemic after the 2010 earthquake that claimed 8,700 lives. The whole system is tenuous, as exemplified by the resurgence in cholera in early 2015 following heavy rains.

Build a Home

Tens of thousands of Haitians lost their homes in the earthquake eight years ago, and about 55,000 people still live in tents and makeshift homes today. These abodes do not offer safety, shelter from tropical storms, insulation or hygienic conditions.

The Chanje Movement’s efforts to build real homes benefits individuals and the Haitian economy, as Haitian workers are employed to construct them.

Micro Loans

With donated funds, the Chanje Movement loans out $200-$500 to Haitians be paid back in six months to two years, which increases economic stability and allows Haitians a chance to start businesses. When the loans are paid back, funds are immediately reinvested in a new entrepreneur.

The World Bank claims that helping Haitians use their skills to start their own businesses will be crucial to ending poverty in Haiti, as the income of a business will allow assets to accumulate and protect the next generation of Haitians from the devastating consequences of a natural disaster like the earthquake with increased savings.

Additionally, helping Haitians generate a more steady income through their own businesses could address the orphan crisis that is hugely related to poverty in Haiti.

Currently, 500,000 children are considered orphans in Haiti, but 80 percent of these orphans have at least one living parent. This discrepancy is predominantly caused by the homelessness following the earthquake. Due to lack of shelter, food and resources, many parents decided their children would be better provided for in orphanages. Fortunately, providing job opportunities through microloans, in addition to the Chanje Movement’s homes, has the potential to reverse this cycle and keep children and parents together.

Backpacks for Kids

Meanwhile, backpacks full of supplies help provide for some of the country’s orphans within the Chanje Movement’s homes for children in Croix de Bouqets.

The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview Daniel DiGrazia, who is from Crossline Church, one of The Global Mission’s partner churches. He has been to Haiti four times in the past three years, and explains that a key part of distributing these supplies is playing with the kids that live in these orphanages.

Since he makes frequent return trips, DiGrazia has “grown in relationship with a multitude of the people there.” While DiGrazia’s team helped the Chanje Movement administer relief during his trips, the main reason he keeps going back is to show love to the Haitians and invest in the people and relationships.

He explains, “I’d love to go again next year…It’s a really good experience and I really love the people there. And I really don’t want to just be there and gone. I want to build relationships and keep coming back and see how they’re doing.”

DiGrazia has also personally benefitted from going to Haiti, growing in his faith, relationships, understanding and generosity.

Chanje Movement

For those that cannot immediately travel to Haiti, supporting the Chanje Movement has the capability to combat poverty in Haiti. In the past year, thousands of Haitians had basic needs met with clean water and food provided by the Chanje Movement.

The organization also trained 500 future leaders and helped 75 children access education — tangible efforts that take the necessary steps towards a Haiti without poverty and the need for humanitarian aid.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in HaitiIn September 2013, CARE, along with USAID, the Haitian Government, World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger and World Vision, implemented a program aimed at improving food security in Haiti. The initiative was named Kore Lavi, which means “supporting life” in Creole.

The goal of the program was to create a self-sustaining food market within the poorest regions of Haiti by 2017. Global partners agreed to step down after 2017 and allow the Haitian government full authority over the program.

Poverty in Haiti

Currently, 41.3 percent of Haiti’s population is employed in agriculture, specifically in the rural regions of the country. Natural disasters have disproportionate effects on these rural farmers. An entire year of income can be lost if crops are destroyed by hurricanes or earthquakes.

World Bank reports that more than 59 percent of Haitians live below the national poverty line, and more than 24 percent live below the extreme poverty line.

The United Nations Development Program reports that poverty hits women particularly hard in Haiti since more than 40 percent of women are heads of households. Women provide about 90 percent of domestic care but do not receive financial compensation, training or support. Kore Lavi sought to address problems of gender equality by recognizing the power that women held in the development of their children’s’ lives and their families’ prosperity.

Program Design

Implemented in 2013, Kore Lavi is a sustainable food market located in the rural regions of Haiti. Local farmers who participated in the program sold their crops and livestock internally within their communities, while beneficiaries of the program received vouchers to purchase these products.

This cycle promoted a healthy local economy that eventually became self-sustaining. It helped to directly address Haiti’s reliance on food imports, which accounted for 50 percent of the population’s food.

The program provided beneficiaries with two types of vouchers: paper and electronic. Paper vouchers were used to purchase local produce and meat, while electronic vouchers were used online for purchases of grains, rice and other staple foods.

Program Reach

Kore Lavi promoted food security in Haiti across the country by operating in more than 23 communities. Communities were chosen based on a variety of statistics, such as literacy rates and percentage of insecure food. In 2013, the program’s inaugural year, approximately 110,000 households benefited from the program’s social assistance.

As of 2017, Kore Lavi provided 205,000 households with maternal and child health interventions, while providing roughly 18,150 households with vouchers. The markets have grown to employ more than 700 vendors, with 358 of them being women.

Female Empowerment

Female empowerment was crucial to the program’s success. Kore Lavi engaged female volunteers called Lead Mothers and offered them the opportunity to teach health training within and around rural communities. Lead Mothers traveled household-to-household discussing sensitive topics with fellow mothers, such as child nutrition and development.

Microfinance

Kore Lavi also identified microfinance as an additional means to improve food security in Haiti. For example, participating communities developed their own Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). VSLA’s provided members access to loans and personal savings accounts and maintained a central focus on serving women.

These aspects allowed women more financial independence and the means to take care of their family in times of crisis. In 2017, there were more than 25,000 members in 1,000 VSLA groups.

Successes

Great strides have been made in enabling vulnerable households in Haiti to feel a sense of security because of Kore Lavi. USAID reports in 2017 that Kore Lavi, over the four years of its existence, provided treatment and prevention methods to more than 83,000 children under the age of five suffering from malnutrition. Women are finding their own voice within their communities, and families can finally save for their future while having a sense of food security

As volunteers, like the Lead Mothers, continue to tell their story and help others, the social benefits for women will continue. As vendors continue to sell their produce locally and save their money, the hope is that increased food security in Haiti will continue. These cyclical changes have the power to continue “supporting life,” or Kore Lavi, in the country of Haiti.

– Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in HaitiMisconceptions about life in Haiti reach all around the world. After the devastation of the island in 2010 due to a magnitude seven earthquake, many citizens were killed or left homeless and scared. The image of Haiti in the eyes of the world has become that of a poor country stuck in a cycle of poverty. But, what are the living conditions in Haiti actually like? Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Haiti.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Haiti

  1. Rural life is much more difficult – A lot of attention is given to the capital city of Port-au-Prince in the news, but the living conditions in Haiti in rural areas show higher poverty rates than in the city. In the city, poverty rates declined between 2000 and 2012; however, they remained the same in rural areas, which often receive less help rebuilding after natural disasters and have less access to basic necessities.
  2. Tropical storms disrupt life – The major recurring disasters that strike Haiti are tropical storms. Because of its position in the Caribbean, hurricanes and other storms can often cause problems, destroying property as Haitians are trying to rebuild and contaminating water sources.
  3. Drinking water can be unsafe – Cholera is very common in both rural areas and cities due to contamination in the water. At most, 48 percent of the population has access to safe sanitation, but that is only in urban areas. In rural areas, fewer than 20 percent have access to clean water and sanitation. Malaria also poses a risk to many. These diseases can be fatal without access to healthcare.
  4. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 continues to affect crops and housing – Hurricane Matthew affected 2.1 million Haitians with the elderly being hit the hardest. Habitat for Humanity has provided housing kits and building materials to help elders rebuild since they often are responsible for other family members and have greater difficulty finding work. Additionally, since Haiti imports most of its food, the few crops that are grown are often destroyed in natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew, which has a strong impact on the elders who require good nutrition and better living conditions in Haiti.
  5. Environmental concerns affect the people – According to Human Rights Watch, “As of September 2017, authorities had failed to assist many of the nearly 38,000 individuals still living in displacement camps since the 2010 earthquake.” These people have neither been resettled nor allowed to return to their original homes. The living conditions in Haiti for these individuals are most threatened by widespread deforestation, pollution and limited access to safe water.
  6. Housing shortages are a big problem – Even before Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 earthquake, overcrowding and lack of housing were major issues, mainly in Port-au-Prince and other cities. Destruction has exacerbated this, forcing many into more cramped and unhealthy conditions, often living in tents and makeshift houses.
  7. Habitat for Humanity has made great strides in helping rebuild – Right now, Habitat for Humanity, in addition to sending supplies and volunteers, has been focusing on creating long-term renewal in Haitian housing. In 2014, they launched The Canaan Project, which focuses on community development and working with families to rebuild their homes.
  8. Tree planting offers hope against deforestation – Deforestation has been a big problem for Haiti, especially when it comes to using wood for fuel and cooking. It is being combated by government efforts to stop illegal deforesting and a plan to plant more than 10,000 hectares of land, which was implemented in 2013. The increase in trees is also expected to help lessen the effects of natural disasters by decreasing mudslides and helping protect water sources.
  9. Poverty has decreased – While almost 60 percent of people in Haiti were still living below the poverty line in 2012, this number is still an improvement on the estimated 80 percent living in poverty in 1999. This rate of improvement is promising to Haitians, and if it continues over the next decade, Haiti may no longer be considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
  10. Literacy efforts are helping to educate Haitians – The key to lifting Haiti out of poverty is educating the workforce since there is a severe lack of skilled laborers. The labor force consists of about 4.6 million people, but most of these are unskilled laborers. Haiti’s literacy rate is currently only 61 percent, but charities like World Renew are working to help adults learn to write and read competently in order to find better jobs and improve the education of the younger generations.

Haitians have a long history of surviving repeated setbacks. In spite of some of the negative facts about living conditions in Haiti, many charitable organizations are working on the ground to change the status quo. Haiti is seeing improvement and has a real chance of overcoming some of the adversity it has seen and growing into a strong nation.

– Grace Gay
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in HaitiAfter the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world, including the U.S., sent a great deal of assistance to the devastated country. The U.S. has given about $13 billion to Haiti in foreign aid. Despite these efforts, the people of Haiti still face elevated poverty and hunger levels.

In October 2016, Haiti faced one of its worst hurricanes to date. Hurricane Matthew was a category four storm that caused severe damage and killed approximately 600 people. Many organizations continue to help repair the damage Matthew and earlier storms brought to Haiti. To understand the severity of the crisis, look below for the top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti:

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Haiti

  1. In April 2017, Haiti had the lowest food availability in the world. The Dominican Republic was the second lowest with Chad following in third. In the U.S., food availability is measured to be about 3,750 calories per person each day. In Haiti, there are about 1,976 calories per person available each day. This does not mean that each person has the opportunity to consume these many calories. Some Haitians consume far above this number while many consume far below it.
  2. Roughly 50 percent of Haiti’s population is undernourished. Even before the 2010 earthquake, 40 percent of households were undernourished. The already high number has risen as a consequence of repeated natural disasters in the country, like Hurricane Matthew.
  3. One-in-five Haitian children are malnourished. One-in-10 Haitian children are acutely malnourished. One-in-14 will die before age five.
  4. Haiti is the poorest country in the Northern hemisphere. Two out of three Haitians live on less than $2 per day. In comparison, the average American spends around $140 per day.
  5. Haiti’s main staple food is rice, importing 80 percent of it, despite the fact that 50 percent of the jobs in the country are related to agriculture and 25 percent of the country’s GDP comes from agriculture.
  6. Only 10 percent of Haitian agricultural lands are irrigated, which leaves the country extremely dependent on rain. This makes the country especially vulnerable as droughts can have an amplified impact on the population’s health and well-being.
  7. Haiti is the third most affected country by extreme weather. The weather has a severe impact on food resources available to Haitians because it can destroy crops and land. Haiti’s hunger and poverty levels are repeatedly exacerbated by cases of drought and hurricanes. Though these events are extremely tragic, the relief efforts that have followed such disasters have allowed other countries to see exactly how bad the hunger and poverty crises are. This has sparked an increased effort to provide aid and growth initiatives to Haiti.
  8. Fifty-nine percent of Haitian people live in poverty and almost 25 percent live in extreme poverty. The poverty rate in the U.S. fluctuates between 10 and 15 percent.
  9. Fewer than 50 percent of households in Haiti have access to clean water. Only 25 percent of households in Haiti have access to adequate sanitation. A lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation make the population more prone to diseases.
  10. A third of all women and children in Haiti suffer from anemia. Anemia is a condition that arises when a person does not have enough red blood cells. The disease often results when one faces deficiencies of particular nutrients – especially iron. It is particularly common in women because they lose blood at high rates through menstrual cycles. Anemia can cause severe organ damage if left untreated.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Haiti highlight the dire conditions in the country. Though the hunger crisis persists, there are organizations working tirelessly to help the country and its people. An example of this is an organization called Action Against Hunger. This organization seeks to provide families in Haiti with agricultural training. This gives them not just short-term food relief, but also a long-term source of food and economic growth.

Natural disasters are inevitable and one cannot be sure when Haiti will face another great set back. However, if more is done to amplify the country’s growth now, Haiti will be better prepared to face such disasters and avoid some of its devastating consequences.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr