poverty relief in haitiPlagued by historical political oppression and a series of recent natural disasters, Haiti is among the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere today. An estimated 8.5 million Haitians live below the poverty line, 2.5 million of whom survive on $1.12 a day. Thus, it is not surprising to see an influx of immigrants from the country. According to the activist organization RAICES, Haitian immigrants make up nearly half of families detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Immigration policy must consider the origin countries of migrant families and why they chose to migrate in the first place. Though the U.S. has prioritized harsh security measures at the border, investing poverty relief in Haiti may improve the situation.

Haiti’s History of Poverty

Haiti’s ongoing economic crisis stems from a long history of political unrest. From national corruption to human rights violations and the damaging effects of colonialism, Haiti’s economy has never fully recovered. After regaining independence from France, the small country owed 150 million francs to the European nation. Haiti finally finished paying off this debt in 1922.

A World Bank report estimated that 6.3 million Haitian citizens could not afford certain consumer goods in 2012, while another 2.5 million struggled just to buy food. Additionally, despite some poverty relief in Haiti, about half of the population cannot access public services. From 2001 to 2012, Haiti saw improvements in tap water, energy and sanitation accessibility, but coverage rates remain well below 50%. Furthermore, recent statistics from the World Bank claim that Haiti’s GDP per capita was only $756 in 2019. This poverty, along with a particular susceptibility to natural disasters, creates incentives for mass migration from Haiti.

The Price of Immigration Enforcement

When it comes to immigration enforcement, the U.S. spares no expense. The American Immigration Council found that, since 2003, the federal government has spent approximately $381 billion on immigration control. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE  have grown, with nearly triple their original budgets today. In 2020, federal spending was $8.4 billion for ICE and $16.9 billion for CBP.

Despite the generous contributions to these enforcement agencies, immigration issues have not necessarily disappeared. Instead, this tough approach at the border has created a new set of problems. Claims of trafficking, abuse of power by enforcement officials and poor conditions in holding facilities have surrounded the departments. Specifically, RAICES found that Haitian and other Black immigrants face discrimination and mistreatment while under ICE custody.

With an estimated 40,000 Haitians making up a large portion of border detainees, some government officials are proposing investing in poverty relief in Haiti. Politicians, such as Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), are fighting to restore stability in Haiti during the pandemic. Wilson and some of her colleagues believe that this will have a slowing effect on migration.

Poverty Relief in Haiti Shows Promise

The World Bank has demonstrated the benefits of investing in poverty relief in Haiti. From 2000 to 2012, extreme poverty decreased by 7.4% largely due to economic progress in Haiti’s big cities. Similarly, poverty rates in rural areas reached 74.9%, while the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, only had a rate of 29.2%. By increasing and distributing aid, the rest of the country can achieve poverty reduction rates similar to those in urban regions.

The same report details how, with the help of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, Haiti eliminated a large part of its public debt. This in turn increased the economy by 2.3% annually from 2005 to 2009. The financial help also “contributed to the generation of optimism in the country and among the country’s partners.”

Researchers urge U.S. policymakers to begin looking at remittances as having investment returns. For example, temporary work visas significantly bolster Haiti’s economy and raise the quality of life for Haitian households. This lessens the need for migration. If the U.S. changes its perspective on immigration, it could begin developing a mutually beneficial relationship with Haiti while decreasing emigration.

Lizt Garcia
Photo: Flickr

 

BGMIn March 2020, the world entered a time of pause. For some people, the earth seemed to echo a sigh of relief. But stomachs continued to grumble, rain steadily beat down upon roofs made of mud or junkyard scraps and pill bottles drained empty. Galette Chambon and Thoman, two Haitian communities, were no exception to the landslide caused by COVID-19. Thankfully, these two poverty-ridden places’ retaining wall halted the landslide. For nearly ten years, But God Ministries (BGM) has provided Galette Chambon and Thoman with sustainable resources. These resources include water wells, medical and dental clinics, schools, housing and various job opportunities to support the local community. Unfortunately, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these resources have not been readily available.

Food Insecurity in Haiti

One of the major needs plaguing the six million Haitians who live below the poverty line is a lack of food. During the school year, BGM feeds 16,000 children each day. Once schools shut down, food was no longer accessible to these children. Additionally, the country was in a state of civil unrest and facing a drought, worsening the situation. Since 2015, Haiti has faced the onset of economic blows including a decrease in foreign aid, depreciation of the national currency and the natural disaster of Hurricane Matthew. However, the cherry on top was the closure of local markets due to the pandemic, which heightened the crisis. Rather than sit back and watch the nation plummet, BGM took action by conducting a Food For Life campaign. Stan Buckley, the founder of But God Ministries, spoke with The Borgen Project about the campaign’s success. He said, “We raised $90,000 in a week. So far, we have given away $75,000 in food distributions.”

But God Ministries’ Response to the Pandemic

A major source of revenue for But God Ministries came from American teams who partnered with the ministry. Without funding from visiting groups, BGM had to cut back on the salaries of their Haitian employees. A positive outcome, according to Buckley, is the number of houses BGM has the opportunity to build in the community during this time. A portion of the people who planned on spending part of their summer in Haiti chose to donate the money they would have spent on travel to the organization’s housing fund. Buckley said, “We have the funds in place for 16 houses, and we have built around five so far.” He also noted that the civil unrest has died down due to the coronavirus. If this trend continues, the country will be on an uphill climb toward a successful economic and sustainable future.

Haitian Economy

Self-sufficiency is contingent upon the physical state of the nation. Unfortunately, over 96% of Haitians experience natural disasters. In 2010, Haiti’s economic and concrete landscape was shaken to the ground by an earthquake. Many countries forgave Haiti of its debt. However, the country’s clean slate quickly became tainted. By 2017, Haiti had accumulated $2.6 billion in debt. In concordance with the national debt, Haiti’s clothing export rose to new heights. As of 2016, the apparel register accounted for more than 90% of Haiti’s exports, further sustaining the nation.

Sustainability is But God Ministries’ overarching goal. “One of our goals is to have Haitians leading in every area …, and that’s a process. We have a Haitian preacher, Haitian principals and teachers, Haitian builders …, and the list goes on,” said Buckley. Right now, Thoman produces electricity through sustainable solar panels, which happened through a partnership with Georgia Tech. Hopefully, Galette Chambon will follow this precedent. Electricity is a major barrier standing in the way of Haiti’s progression. According to the CIA, investing in Haiti is difficult due to the lack of electrical reliability and weak infrastructure.

Without financial and resourceful investment from neighboring countries, it will be exceedingly difficult for Haiti to enter a state of self-sufficiency. However, the work of organizations like But God Ministries provides an example for others who wish to help the country emerge from the pandemic better than it was before.

Chatham Rayne Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in Haiti
In the poorest country in the western hemisphere, women in Haiti have long been subject to exorbitantly high rates of gender-based violence. In addition, the Haitian judicial system often leaves them without anywhere to turn and there is insufficient access to education across the country.

However, women are integral to local economies and to Haitian society. Women head approximately half of Haitian households. Street vendors, a key element in the Haitian economy, tend to be largely female. Additionally, many women own small farms, making them vital to the agricultural chain.

Moreover, Haiti’s Constitution guarantees women the right to participate in politics, protects women from workplace discrimination and claims to protect them from physical and sexual abuse. Nevertheless, the state of women’s rights in Haiti remains wanting.

Gender-Based Violence

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and civil unrest, lack of infrastructure, poverty and general political instability plague it. This creates structural inequalities that put Haitian women and girls at heightened risk for gender-based violence. According to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) definition, gender-based violence includes violence towards a woman simply due to being a woman or violence that disproportionately harms women. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), “one in three Haitian women, ages 15-49, has experienced physical and/or sexual violence.”

The inequalities inherent in Haitian society have left women particularly vulnerable. In fact, lack of adequate food, housing, sanitation, clean water, medical attention and protection make them open pray in a society where misogyny is common and the majority of people live in poverty.

Inadequate Access to Judicial Systems

In addition to facing remarkably high rates of sexual violence, women also receive inadequate support from the judicial system when it comes to prosecuting perpetrators of gender-based violence. Social barriers discriminate against women at every step of the process while structural issues, including corruption, lack of resources and lengthy procedures make it nearly impossible to even bring a case to court.

As 59% of the Haitian population lives below the poverty line and 24% live in extreme poverty, prohibitively high legal fees make the formal justice system inaccessible for the majority of the population. For women especially, incumbent misogynistic norms result in administrators overlooking cases of violence against women, brushing them off as not being serious, failing to acquire adequate evidence or displaying a general disregard for victims and their families.

Nevertheless, there have been some developments that have facilitated an improvement in women’s rights in Haiti. These developments have aided in women’s access to the legal system and their ability to report accounts of rape or abuse. In 2005, rape was officially criminalized, accompanied by higher rates of sentencing perpetrators. The country has also introduced other legislation that focuses on Haitian women’s rights, including improved training and accountability standards for the judiciary and legislation addressing gender-based violence across sexual, criminal and domestic contexts.

Still, the lack of legal support for women often makes simply reporting rape a futile practice. Prejudices against female autonomy and preconceived ideas of women’s behavior can result in instances of victim-blaming. It is not unusual for police officers to question the victim’s actions as inviting the violence or point to their choice of attire as prompting the assault. This type of verbal abuse discourages women from reporting violent instances and further normalizes violations of women’s rights in Haiti.

Lack of Safe Learning Environments

Globally, girls are already at a disadvantage in terms of accessing and receiving a quality education. In Haiti, classes usually occur in French while most of the country speaks Creole. Additionally, private organizations often run schools that charge tuition families cannot pay, subsequently making access to education particularly challenging. In 2015, the UN Development Program found that Haitians of 25 years or more were recipients of an average of 4.9 years of schooling. Save The Children, a humanitarian aid program estimated that Haitian girls attend school only until age 7 on average. Many leave school due to high tuition or to provide an extra set of hands at home, a direct result of the high rates of poverty.

Gender-based violence, poverty, child marriage and pregnancy, all issues that disproportionately affect girls, are common factors impeding access to education. According to a USAID study, school was the second-most common place for “unwanted touching.” The lack of safe learning environments correlates with a high drop-out rate for girls.

This drop-out rate results in a productivity loss in the labor market and an increase in costs associated with women’s health. Additionally, social costs include high infant mortality for children of adolescent girls, less social empowerment and reduced skill sets in unemployed females.

Furthermore, girls who have limited education are more likely to remain poor, experience violence and carry more children, a cycle that continues into future generations. According to WomenOne, a nonprofit promoting girls’ education, a woman’s children are twice as likely to attend primary school if she did. In 2015, WomenOne worked in Haiti to build a school in the village of Berard in partnership with LinkedIn and BuildOn. It intended this school to educate an equal number of girls and boys. 

Because Haitian women have an important role to play within their communities, families and the workforce, prioritizing education for girls by creating safe spaces to learn is critical to both propel development efforts and elevate women’s rights in Haiti.

 – Samantha Friborg
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in Haiti
Haiti has struggled with a copious number of natural disasters in the past. These natural disasters tend to exacerbate the effects of poverty, including the lack of proper sanitation. Among rural citizens in Haiti, only 20% of the population has the resources to sanitize properly. A lack of sanitary water plays a significant role in the quality of life in Haiti. Luckily, organizations are working to provide aid for clean water in Haiti and increase access to sanitary water for all citizens.

Pure Water for the World

Pure Water for the World started more than 15 years ago. Since then, this organization has made a significant impact on the access to clean water in Haiti among other countries. The program primarily assists Honduras and Haiti; it has positively impacted the lives of over 750,000 people.

Pure Water for the World dedicates itself to several solutions through its WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) program. Its goal is to work alongside the public to devise a solution that is the best fit for their communities. Pure Water for the World uses four main strategies. These include water technologies, sanitation technologies, education and training, and sustainability measures.

Water technologies may include installing a pipe that can bring water to a school, collecting rainwater to use or creating filters for communal use. One of the program’s goals is to add handwashing stations, which would help to lower the risk of disease spread. Additionally, the program attempts to educate everyone on proper sanitation and get classes in schoolrooms to discuss hygiene. The WASH program also checks up with regions that it has previously helped to make sure that their chosen method is a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix.

Pure Water for the World has been a successful program so far. In northern Haiti, filters were put into people’s homes to help with water purity. When a group of families was visited for a filter check, the results were fantastic. All of the filters were working well. That leaves a likely high success rate in the 100 homes where the filters are working to maintain access to clean water in Haiti.

The Road to Hope

In addition, not only is Pure Water for the World pursuing changes in Haiti but so is The Road to Hope. The Road to Hope acknowledges that not all of the numerous projects and plans to help Haiti are in line with individual communities’ goals. The organization seeks to work alongside Haitians to ensure successful strategies.

The Road to Hope’s goals is primarily to educate and to end poverty in Haiti. These accomplishments would help improve overall access to sanitary water. An overall increase in wealth would result in the availability of more expensive materials to provide purified water throughout Haiti.

Overall, water-related illnesses have caused children to miss school 443 million times. This demonstrates the broader social implications of lacking access to clean water. The Road to Hope provides the people of Haiti with community centers to give them a place where they can get proper sanitation and safe water.

Global Environment Facility

Furthermore, on June 3, 2020, the Global Environment Facility approved a five-year, $4.5 million water project in Haiti.  The project hopes to be able to make clean water available to 90,000 Haitians. If the project is successful, it will make quite an impact on the quality of life for many Haitians.

In conclusion, Pure Water for the World, The Road to Hope, and the Global Environment Facility are providing promising solutions to unsafe water. The lack of sanitation and pure water is a threat to Haiti, but these organizations have proved to be successful in providing clean water in Haiti.

– Hailee Shores
Photo: Flickr

poverty in haiti
Haiti is known for its need for foreign aid. Not only do its citizens suffer at the hands of their own government, but natural disasters caused over half of Haiti’s population to fall into poverty, as of 2012. Project Esperanza, an NGO based in the Dominican Republic, is working to help immigrants escaping poverty in Haiti build new lives for themselves and their families.

Causes of Poverty in Haiti

Haiti is classified as a Republic. It has an executive, legislative and judicial branch. Citizens vote for their president and prime minister (who each serve a five-year term). Though the nation is in dire need of aid for its citizens, the International Monetary Fund was on the fence about giving aid to the government in 2019. After the IMF struck a deal with Haiti to give the country $229 million, there was a significant governmental change when they switched prime ministers. This untimely decision, halting the exchange of the funds, had a negative outcome, as Haitian citizens needed that aid.

Poverty in Haiti is accentuated by the government’s lack of cooperation, but one of the main causes of poverty in Haiti recently is the economic downturn in 2019. Haiti closed its borders completely for almost half of 2019 because of fuel shortages. Venezuelan gas providers cut Haiti off due to unpaid debts and a fuel crisis also in Venezuela. With essential services like hospitals unable to operate, the need for foreign aid increased. Without access to proper health care, poverty in Haiti increased.

Project Esperanza Aids Haitian Immigrants

A common way of escaping poverty is immigration. Many Haitians find refuge in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Immigrants make the difficult decision to leave their entire lives behind and start fresh. Approximately 800,000 Haitian immigrants have settled in the Dominican Republic.

Fortunately, there are people willing to help these immigrants build a better life for themselves and their families. Project Esperanza is an NGO that helps give Haitian immigrants the tools that they need in order to survive outside of their country of origin. The organization recognizes that Haiti is a well-known crisis zone in constant need of humanitarian aid, with one of its main concerns being poverty among its citizens. Therefore, it works to ensure that Haitian immigrants receive the support they need to rise out of poverty once they reach the Dominican Republic.

One of Project Esperanza’s initiatives has employed Haitian artists in a free trade art shop so that they can make a living in their new home. The organization also runs a boys’ home for immigrant youth without familial support, and sponsors schools across the country. Project Esperanza’s primary focus is providing educational and social opportunities for immigrants, adapting to their needs.

Moving Forward

Rising poverty in Haiti has caused an increase in Haitian immigrants. Moving forward, it is essential that the Haitian government and international humanitarian organizations address the causes of poverty and provide much-needed aid. The work that organizations like Project Esperanza are doing is also essential, helping immigrants build successful and prosperous lives.

Moriah Thomas
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty Eradication in HaitiHaiti has experienced a long history of natural disasters and extreme poverty. Despite these challenges, Haiti could eventually thrive through technology and innovation. Technology and innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti have set the stage for new products and ideas, but expertise and transformation have also allowed the country to improve on assets that already exist.

Foreign Direct Investment

Digicel, a communications and entertainment company headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, set up its mobile phone venture in Haiti in 2005. Until its arrival, operators Comcel-Voilà (now Voilà) and Haïtel controlled the mobile phone market. When Digicel entered the Haiti market, its economic impact was almost immediate. Within two years, Digicel contributed to more than 15% of the Haitian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Meanwhile, paired with its two competitors, the contribution of all three was more than 25% of the GDP.

During the years 2005-2009, Digicel invested more than $250 million in Haiti’s economy which led to more than 60,000 jobs. Not only had Digicel poured into Haiti’s bottom line with job creation, in a market with two telecom competitors, but it was also able to account for almost 30% of tax revenue. The company has definitely been working on poverty eradication in Haiti.

In 2012, Digicel acquired Voilà, which substantially increased its market share penetration and helped maintain its presence. All of this occurred despite the fact that Haiti had experienced a major earthquake that displaced 5 million people and killed 250,000 people in 2010 on top of the devastation of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy that occurred in 2012. Those setbacks have not derailed Digicel as of 2020. The company is still strong as it continues to provide innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti by keeping the country connected.

Education: Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Many have proven and echoed that children are the future and that they need to have exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to keep pace with the future innovative job market. Haiti’s challenge is that it lacks some capabilities and resources as an underdeveloped country.

Enter the NGO, Pennies for Haiti. This NGO’s long-term goal is to end Haiti’s series of poverty by providing sustenance and educating the country’s children. Meanwhile, its short-term objective is to equip Haiti’s children through education as a means to help them rise above their current situation. While Pennies for Haiti has several ongoing projects that serve 200 people a year, two of the projects focus on education.

The first is Haiti STEM Alliance, which is open to both boys and girls. The second is STEM 4 Girls, which places emphasis on girls. While both of these projects pour their energies into helping each participant achieve higher education and realize the vast employment opportunities in STEM, the difference is that STEM 4 Girls delves into personal growth and the benefits of higher learning. Pennies for Haiti hopes to instill in young women how STEM jobs can open the door to economic freedom.

In addition, the organization visualizes engaging an abundance of youth in the STEM industry as it will create more opportunities for technology and automation careers in Haiti. Pennies for Haiti is counting on the success of both of these programs with a focus on poverty eradication in Haiti and to boost Haiti’s image to the world and make them attractive to those companies who are looking to subcontract jobs as well as showing that they are a leader in gender equality and STEM careers.

Entrepreneurs

People may not know Haiti as a startup oasis, but over 75% of its residents operate some type of business to supplement their income. As a result, it is evident that Haiti is full of citizens who have demonstrated they can build, operate and sustain their own companies. Their startups range from fresh markets to tech platforms, and these enterprises are redefining the Haiti business culture.

One citizen, Christine Souffrant Ntim, who founded the Haiti Tech Summit (2017), has firsthand experience. She answered her entrepreneurial call as a youngster by helping her grandmother and mother sell goods in the streets of Haiti.

The Haiti Tech Summit brings together entrepreneurs, stakeholders, superstars and visionaries to address humanity’s extreme difficulties via tech and entrepreneurship. It has generated tangible results in its short existence such as helping an Airbnb sign a five-year multiple year contract with Haiti’s governmental branch that specializes in culture, tourism and the arts. Also, Facebook launched Haiti’s initial globally recognized grassroots pioneer group in 2017.

The Haiti Tech Summit’s success is based on the Ecosystem Map methodology, a vigorous arrangement of unified organizations that rely on each other for shared survival. As the Summit gains more energy and notoriety across the globe, Ntim’s focus is for the association to become the world’s next major tech innovation hub by 2030.

Poverty eradication in Haiti has made positive headway as it continues to rebuild its community and successfully learn how to navigate a technology-driven society. It has the existing tools to help bridge the gap with the main ingredient, being themselves. With the assistance of foreign aid, continued support of educational equality, especially among girls and entrepreneurs mobilizing the next generation, Haiti should be ready to move into the future with momentum.

Kim L. Patterson
Photo: Pixabay

the Marist Brothers
Saint Marcellin Champagnat formed the Institute of the Marist Brothers in 1817 with the mission of helping poor and marginalized children around the world. The community of Marist Brothers has now grown to include almost 3,000 members. In 2007, in the spirit of Champagnat’s vision, the Congregation of the Marist Brothers of the Schools established the Marist International Solidarity Foundation (FMSI) in Rome. Its mission is to provide quality care and education for all children. Today, the foundation directly improves the lives of more than 650,000 youth around the world. It does so through its presence in educational, social and youth centers. Three of FMSI’s important mission projects are in Ghana, Haiti and Lebanon.

Ghana: Marist Junior High School

With a fast-growing youth population, experts claim that Ghana has a unique opportunity to utilize its “demographic dividend” as a positive force for its society and economy. Without a strong educational system, however, the growing demographic could exacerbate the country’s poverty. Problems in the Ghanaian educational system, especially in rural settings, include shortages of qualified teachers, adequate teaching spaces and school materials. Additionally, literacy and learning standards are low. Educational institutions struggle to provide quality, inclusive teaching across gender and socioeconomic disparities. Thousands of children drop out of school because their families cannot afford the economic burden.

Fortunately, the Marist Brothers have been quietly contributing to the betterment of Ghanaian education. In 1998, the Marist Junior High School emerged in Sabin-Akrofrom. In this rural area, families cannot afford the transportation costs to send their children to city schools. Since its establishment, the Marist Junior High School has taught more than a thousand students who would have not received schooling otherwise. Its students meet high academic standards, and the facility is now prominent for its effective, inclusive and quality education for children living in remote areas of Ghana.

Haiti: the Collège Alexandre Dumas

In Haiti, thousands of children do not receive an adequate education because families cannot afford to make such financial sacrifices. Because of this, child labor is widespread in Haiti. As of 2019, more than 34% of children between the age of five and 14 were in the labor force. Child labor drastically reduces children’s opportunities to go to school. The government is unable to enforce a minimum age requirement for its workers or prohibit the use of children for dangerous work. Children left at orphanages also often work in hard domestic work.

The Marist Brothers have taken action to advocate for child rights and reduce child labor in the region of Latiboliere. The mission of the Collège Alexandre Dumas secondary school is to improve the lives of children who are vulnerable to exploitation. After successful negotiations with children’s families, the Marist Brothers are now able to host 100 boys and girls per year. In addition to providing basic schooling, this program offers nutritional meals, medical care, and recreational activities like sports and arts. These activities contribute to the Haitian children’s academic, emotional and social advancements. Overall, the school reduces the labor exploitation of minors by educating their families on the importance of schooling.

Lebanon: the Fratelli Project

Lebanon also faces the issue of widespread child labor, which impedes youth access to school. Immigrant children, whose parents experience exclusion from the Lebanese labor market, are especially vulnerable to labor trafficking. They can receive less pay and employers do not require identification papers. However, Lebanese families living in the poorest areas of the country face similar problems to those of immigrant families. Thus, Lebanese child labor is also on the rise. This cycle forces children to become the only source of income for many poor families who cannot afford to lose their support by sending them to school. Consequently, even the children enrolled in an educational institution have poor levels of attendance when due to seasonal labor.

The Marist Brothers’ school, Les Frères, has been helping children in Lebanon since before the Lebanese civil war. Now, in cooperation with the La Salle Brothers, the Marist brothers in Lebanon have introduced a new educational project called Fratelli. The Fratelli project supports hundreds of Lebanese and refugee children who have fallen behind in school. It incorporates socio-academic and vocational training to help them reintegrate into the Lebanese education system. FMSI provides funds to buy school materials, pay activity costs and finance the enlargement of buildings to make Les Frères accessible to more children.

Ghana, Haiti, and Lebanon are just three of the 81 countries around the world where the Marist Brothers have improved children’s lives. By protecting the world’s children, the Marist Brothers are effectively protecting the world’s future.

– Margherita Bassi
Photo: Flickr

WASH in HaitiPost-colonial social, political and economic insecurity, coupled with Haiti’s susceptibility to extreme weather events, has led to inadequate access to potable water and proper sanitation in the country. Consequently, 80% of rural Haitians lack direct access to sanitation facilities. In addition, only 40% have access to an improved water source. This has left many people living in Haiti vulnerable to a variety of waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhea. It is estimated that one in six Haitian children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea. While access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), is still a substantial issue, the good news is that many efforts are being made in recent years to improve WASH in Haiti.

5 Organizations That Are Working to Improve WASH in Haiti:

  1. Promises for Haiti aims to “demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ” by empowering Haitian governmental leaders to effect change for vulnerable populations. Founded in 1981, the organization works to improve WASH in Haiti specifically through their agronomy program to eliminate Haitian citizens’ susceptibility to waterborne illnesses. Accomplishing this action involves allowing people further access to WASH facilities. The organization partnered with Comite Bienfaisance de Pignon (CBP) to maintain over 2,000 wells in and around the Pignon area. Additionally, they have built wells in each of the nine Christian schools founded in the region. The organization sustains its agronomy program through online donations by visitors to the website that are passionate about the cause.
  2. Founders, Dick and Barb, established Friends of the Children of Haiti (FOTCOH) after taking a medical mission trip to Haiti. The organization, founded in the 1970s, completed its first clinic in Cyadier, Haiti, in 2000. Through their program, FOTCOH WASH, it aims to teach the importance of maintaining hygiene and the proper methods of storing water. This program enacts an array of activities dedicated to the betterment of WASH in Haiti. This includes building latrines, testing household water quality and distributing hygiene and personal care kits. Through their education clinics, FOTCOH demonstrates that the key to creating change in WASH is education coupled with actionable initiatives. The clinic treats over 15,000 patients a year
  3. Haiti National Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy (HANWASH) is a national initiative in Haiti. It is a collaboration between multiple organizations: The Haiti National WASH, DINEPA and other non-governmental organizations. The organization’s main objective is to obtain sustainable WASH for all Haitian citizens by 2030 through a systemic approach. This means establishing efficient infrastructure and ensuring that community leaders have the means to sustain these facilities in the long-term. Fulfilling the objective requires promoting accountability and establishing clear lines of authority. Although the program is still in the pilot stages, they aim to establish their second $300,000 grant through rotary and pledge donations.
  4. Hope for Haiti projects that, in the face of adversity, there is hope for improvement through resilience, empowerment, accountability and collaboration. Since its founding in 1990, the organization has implemented WASH programs in 24 communities. These programs work to provide clean water to Haitian citizens and conduct public health sessions to educate on the merits of basic hygiene practices and methods to avoid waterborne illnesses. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has been working ceaselessly to respond to Haiti’s needs. To date, they have distributed $10 million in medical supplies and 5,450 Sawyer Water Filtration Systems. These actions allow for safe drinking water. Their goal in the coming months is to distribute 7,300 more hygiene kits and 550 Sawyer Water Filtration Systems.
  5. Following the example of Mother Teresa, Health Equity International founded St. Boniface Hospital in 1983. St. Boniface Hospital is now the largest and only tertiary care center in southern Haiti. Their main efforts are to maintain the hospital’s access to clean drinking water while working in the surrounding Fond des Blancs community and to provide water tablets and hygiene education to prevent waterborne illnesses. The organization also recognizes the importance of tackling future issues as evidenced by their coronavirus response. Over the last three months of COVID-19, they have provided the Triage and Treatment Center and handwashing stations.

 There is still much work to be done in order to ensure that everyone in Haiti has access to adequate water and sanitation facilities. However, these organizations demonstrate that there is hope for WASH in Haiti through passionate humanitarian efforts.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Haitian Water CrisisHaiti is currently managing an outbreak of the pandemic virus, COVID-19. Amid a highly contagious virus, Haiti’s water and sanitation facilities are of the utmost importance in containing mass contagion. However, millions of the Haitian population do not have access to clean water and sanitation facilities essential in combating viruses. The Haitian water crisis is complicating the response to Covid-19.

On March 19, Haiti’s government declared a state of emergency wafter confirming its first COVID-19 case. Haiti has confirmed over 6,000 cases of COVID-19 since then. Fortunately, Haiti has seen low death rates reported at less than one percent and, despite experiencing some case spikes, Haiti’s COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend since the beginning of June. However, without proper precaution, COVID-19 death rates could easily be back on the rise in Haiti.

Covid-19 and Water

According to a public health announcement issued by the World Health (WHO) Organization, one of the most effective ways to avoid COVID-19 contagion is to wash your hands regularly. WHO also recommends frequently cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and everyday objects.

Any WHO-advised COVID-19 prevention measures that require increasing sanitation practices pose a problem for Haiti. Only about half of the Haitian population has access to clean water, and only one-third of the population has access to basic sanitation facilities. The Haitian water crisis is making it difficult for citizens to take precautions. Water resources and sanitation facilities are particularly inadequate in rural areas of Haiti. Lacking the resources to combat COVID-19 will only increase the probability of contracting the already highly contagious virus.

Along with the pressure of a worldwide pandemic, Haiti is still dealing with the effects of a devastating natural disaster. In 2010, an earthquake decimated Haiti destroying essential infrastructures in Port Au Prince, Haiti’s Capital city. The earthquake caused mass displacement and migration to rural areas of Haiti. These highly populated rural areas are now struggling to contain COVID-19 contagion without the necessary resources to prevent widespread contamination.

Another challenge rural Haitians face is the lack of communication with the government about COVID-19 prevention methods. Because rural areas host almost half of the population in Haiti, many Haitians are unaware of the need for proper sanitation. PureWaterfortheWorld.org is working along with the Centre of Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology to get radio and virtual COVID-19 prevention sanitation methods to rural areas of Haiti that experience government communication issues. The PWW proposes driving trucks through rural areas while blasting sanitation messages through loudspeakers.

The Way Forward

While the PWW focuses on the dissemination of information, many are working to provide better sanitation in rural communities. These organizations aim to provide clean water and hygienic sanitation facilities to curb the spread of COVID-19. An organization called Charity:water.org establishes long-term water solutions in rural Haiti. Charity:water.org uses hydrologists and engineers to design wells and pumps that extract water from natural resources in mountains and springs. Up to now, Charity:water.org has invested in 40 water projects in Haiti and over 50,000 all over the world.

The organizations working to provide better and more accessible water resources to rural Haiti will significantly impact the prevention of COVID-19 through sanitation practices. Along with the efforts to advertise the importance of sanitation, the western hemisphere’s poorest country can manage COVID-19 amid a water crisis.

– Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

fight child povertyToday, about 385 million children worldwide live in extreme poverty according to UNICEF. These three organizations fight child poverty through child sponsorship programs. By pairing a child in poverty with a monthly financial donor, these programs work to ensure children receive necessary medical and educational resources to end the poverty cycle.

3 Organizations Fighting Child Poverty

  1. Restore Haiti: Restore Haiti is a non-profit that works to fight child poverty in Haiti. This organization was started in 2005 by Philip Peters and Gerald Lafleur after Peters visited Lafleur’s homeland of Haiti. Peters saw “the need and knew that the little [he] had and the resources [he] had were something that could be used, and a long-term commitment was born.” The organization focuses efforts on three main communities: Morne Oge, Matador and Carrefore.

    Morne Oge, the community where Restore Haiti began, partners with Restoration Ministries. Today, they serve over 700 elementary, secondary and university/trade school students and their families. Children in the sponsorship program receive meals, education and basic health needs through the help of a monthly donor.

    In Matador, Restore Haiti provides tuition assistance and one daily hot meal to students. They also plan to fund new, sanitary bathroom facilities and a satellite kitchen for the 240 children attending the elementary school.

    Carrefour began as a satellite program in 2014. Today, Restore Haiti assists with educational expenses and two meals a week to children. On their website, they note that “In the Carrefour community, many youths end up joining gangs and living troubled lives, so the food, education, and life skills being imparted to them are key to seeing change come to this community.” In addition to the school costs and meals, Restore Haiti’s community-based staff provides mentorship, training in life skills and character building to the children in Carrefour. 

  2. Compassion International, Inc.: This organization advocates for children and is the world’s leading authority in holistic child development through sponsorship. They were founded in 1952 when Reverend Everett Swanson flew to South Korea. He was there to minister to American troops but felt compelled to help the orphans there reach their full potential. Together, Compassion and local churches provide whole life care – holistic, comprehensive care to help children “fully develop and become responsible, fulfilled adults.”

    Children enrolled in Compassion programs are 27-40% more likely to complete a secondary education, and 20% more likely to have a higher income as an adult. Compassion aims to fight child poverty through a direct partnership between a child and the sponsor. This is done by cultivating a meaningful relationship between the sponsored child and the sponsor through letter writing and emails. In 2019, more than 2.1 million children were sponsored. Today, in addition to child sponsorships, Compassion provides mother and baby care and health resources. They also work to meet critical needs such as providing clean/sanitized water, treatment for HIV infection, access to medical treatment and disaster relief in their efforts to fight child poverty.

  3. World Vision: Started in 1950 when Bob Pierce helped one little girl, this organization now helps more than 3.5 million children in nearly 100 countries. They fight against child poverty through sponsorship programs, health and economic empowerment, child protection, disaster relief, education and food security. World Vision uses a child sponsorship program where a sponsor’s commitment helps the sponsored child and community overcome poverty. According to World Vision’s reports, “over a five-year period, 89% of the children who were severely malnourished in severe relief areas were treated and made a full recovery.” Typically, sponsorship lasts 10-15 years.

    World Vision’s work extends to the next generation of children. The organization’s influence in Bangladesh improved reading comprehension. Students who used the literacy programs measured at 68% reading comprehension compared to those not using the literacy program, who measured at 4% reading comprehension. In Zambia, moms located where this organization runs health and nutrition programs were six times more likely to receive healthcare designed to boost newborn survival compared to mothers in areas where these resources are not available.

    In addition to funding education and health needs for the sponsored child, funds go to make necessary changes in the community. World Vision meets with local community leaders and, after developing a plan, addresses things like “improving water, sanitation, health and nutrition, education and child protection.” The organization’s effects are lasting. Eight out of ten World Vision wells are still functioning at high levels in Ghana after being drilled nearly twenty years ago. The improvements made through World Vision’s child and community sponsorship programs provide the necessary health and educational experiences to fight child poverty.

– Danielle Beatty
Photo: Flickr