Hunger in Haiti
Throughout history, misfortune has plagued Haiti. Just between 2010 and today, natural disasters and political instability have rendered it the poorest country in the Americas. As a result, the issue of hunger in Haiti has carried an overbearing toll on the country, only worsening in recent years. Political instability, natural disasters and subsequent gang violence and economic difficulties have made hunger a central threat to the livelihood of the Haitian population, and a crucial focus of relief agencies. 

Decades of Instability 

In the past 10 years alone, Haiti has struggled with at least four major political and natural disasters. Between 2000 and 2019, Haiti was the third country most affected by extreme weather patterns. Most notably, the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane resulted in countless casualties and the destruction of infrastructure. Politically, the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise has triggered a period of instability. As a result, gang activity has been at a high, seeing a surge in violence with negative spillover effects. Gangs have taken control over ports in the capital of Port-au-Prince, as well as agricultural areas, resulting in widespread hunger.

Economic Fall Out

Severe inflation has resulted in an exponential rise in hunger in Haiti. As Haiti is a country that is highly dependent on food imports given its agricultural struggles, inflation levels are volatile and particularly contingent on the global economy. Currently, inflation levels stand at 44%. This means that food prices are virtually unaffordable for much of the population, with the price of a food basket increasing by 88% in 2023 alone. The combination of gangs controlling ports and food-producing areas with the spike in food prices has left many in Haiti with limited options for survival.

Hunger Statistics

Haiti has one of the highest food insecurity levels in the world. As of 2021, its Human Development Index places it at 163 out of 191 countries. The past year has seen individuals continue to struggle at emergency levels. Almost 5 million people, half of the population, are in hunger and 1.8 million of them face severe starvation. Children are at particular risk, with 22% of Haiti’s children being malnourished, 10% underweight and 66% anemic. Experiencing hunger from such a young age places children in particularly vulnerable positions to a variety of health troubles that they are likely to experience into adulthood. 

Help is on the Way

The United Nations has identified Haiti as one of the most pressing hunger “hotspots” in the world Despite the levels of hunger in Haiti, UN relief agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) have plans in place to aid the country. The biggest food safety net in the country is in the form of school feeding plans, with approximately 300,000 children being fed a day in more than 1,000 schools. WFP has also provided emergency food assistance to more than 150,000 people, as well as cash transfers to allow for independent allocation of resources. On top of these more direct aid efforts, WFP collaborates with communities to develop emergency preparedness and new farming techniques that will allow for long-term resilience in the face of such uncertain times.

Despite the scale of this aid, funding and donations are crucial to its maintenance. Donations and an upscale of attention from governments around the world are central to developing these funds. For 2023, the WFP is helping 1.47 million people through its various aid techniques. So far, as a part of those techniques, the WFP’s emergency assistance has helped countless people on the verge of starvation. In 2022, the WFP delivered food to 723,000 people, as well as transferred $22.9 million in cash to those in need.

In addition to emergency assistance, resilience programs were successfully implemented. Such programs included road and canal building, as well as tree planting. In total, these resilience programs reached 113,000 people, and strive to reach more in the coming year. Reaching funding goals has been crucial to these successes and in the future can dramatically improve levels of hunger in Haiti, saving even more lives than before.

– Lucie Dumont
Photo: Flickr

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
Haiti has had major struggles with cholera since the devastating earthquake occurred in 2010, with minimal resources at the impoverished nation’s disposal. The cholera epidemic ended in January 2019, and by January 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Haiti free from cholera. But, in September 2022, Haiti saw a resurgence of cholera. As the cholera outbreak in Haiti continues, organizations like the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Partners in Health (PIH) are working tirelessly, offering not just medical aid but also education, a tool to empower and establish resilience.


Haiti is an unstable country, with social and political unrest, a weak economy, and a high rate of natural disasters. In 2021, Haiti had the lowest gross national income of all countries in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, standing at just $1,420 per capita. In 2021, Haiti ranked 163 out of 191 on the UN Human Development Index. Meanwhile, in 2021, an earthquake caused $1.6 billion in damage and losses, which equated to 11% of Haiti’s GDP. And, in the same region in 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused losses and damages estimated at 13% of the country’s 2015 GDP. The recurring natural disasters are constantly battering an already impoverished country.

This instability carries to Haiti’s health care system, which has faced numerous challenges, with health care workers leaving Haiti due to low wages. For the health workers remaining in the country, high fuel prices make it challenging to travel to work.

Haiti experiences shortages of essential medicine and a lack of access to facilities due to geographical and financial barriers. According to the World Bank, Haiti is the poorest country in the LAC region and one of the poorest countries in the world. As of 2023, 59% of Haitians live below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. As of 2020, about 50% of the country’s rural population lacked access to drinkable water, and about one-third of Haitians had access to basic sanitation. These statistics mean the country’s people are extremely vulnerable to experiencing outbreaks of cholera.

Haiti had been declared cholera-free on February 4th, 2022, but in October 2022, 12 years after their battle with cholera began and after three years of no reported cases, there was a new cholera outbreak in Haiti. It is currently unclear how this new wave of cholera began, but lack of health care infrastructure, lack of clean water, and extreme poverty are the primary culprits.

The Caseload

Based on the most recently published update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in August 2023, there have been 3,696 confirmed cases, with 77% of the patients being younger than 10 years old. There are a suspected 58,230 cases in the whole of Haiti, which is almost 15 times more than the confirmed cases supply. Cholera is a disease with a high rate of survival, especially outside of the younger population, so that is likely why so many of the confirmed cases are so young- they are those who have to receive professional treatment.

Many patients have to walk long distances to access care, especially with gas prices on the island skyrocketing. As of 2017, there were seven hospital beds per 10,000 people in Haiti. They also have to walk long distances to get to clean water, with access points ever-changing. People fight over water on busier days, and bottled water is not very affordable for most as a primary water source. Unclean water that has microscopic amounts of feces of a cholera carrier is how cholera spreads, and Haitians who are unable to afford bottled water, which is a majority of the extremely impoverished country, have to struggle to find water, which is largely unclean due to lack of funding for water infrastructure or reliable plumbing within Haiti.

Taking Action

Current strategies are varied. Largely, the challenge is in strengthening health infrastructure in a country facing rapid political changes. PAHO is working to provide an oral vaccination against the disease, as well as water purification tablets. The organization is attempting to teach improved hygiene practices in hospitals.

Partners in Health (PIH) is working diligently in Haiti as well. PIH opened University Hospital of Mirebalais in 2013, which has opened the door for more Haitians to get health care certifications, and 98% of the people who graduate from residency stay to work in Haiti instead of going to work abroad as Haitians with medical training often decide to do.

PAHO is training medical staff across Haiti on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) procedures, as well as evaluating communities and 14 different prisons on their WASH policies. It has been and continues to distribute supplies that will support WASH in the communities that are most harmed by the cholera outbreak in Haiti. PAHO, in collaboration with WHO, had evaluated 68 cholera treatment centers, providing training to 126 service providers, when their last report was published in August 2023. About 916 residents had received vaccinations as well.

Ultimately, the cholera outbreak in Haiti has strong links to poverty as impoverished people lack access to potable water, proper sanitation and education. The long-term solution goes beyond providing clean water to meet immediate needs. Humanitarian organizations are working to garner lasting change and build a strong, resilient health care force in Haiti. This means that even when aid organizations leave the country, Haiti’s people will have the skills, knowledge and resources to properly manage disease outbreaks.

Ren Pratt
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Haiti
In 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moise was killed in his own home in an attack planned by individuals from Columbia all the way to the U.S. The current situation in Haiti remains hostile as a result, with street gangs perpetrating intense acts of violence — violence that is only possible with consistent political instability, insecurity and poverty in Haiti.

Those factors have massive effects on its people, many of whom are living in severe poverty on top of being under constant threat. It starts from the top down; nearly 66% of the capital city of Port-au-Prince is under that threat. With no stability in the capital, the outer regions of the country can not gain a foothold themselves, and the unemployment rate rises as businesses are forced to close, driving poverty rates.

Because of the violence taking place, more than 160,000 people are internally displaced which has hindered NGO aid efforts including CARE and the International Organization for Migration, the latter being boots on the ground providing access to clean water and health services in the most dangerous regions. Change is needed at the source and both the U.S. and Ecuador are stepping up efforts to fight poverty in Haiti. Here is some information about foreign aid to Haiti.

Foreign Aid to Haiti to Help With Stability

Ecuador played a role in discovering who took part in the plot against the country’s president, offering a chance to hold those involved accountable while closing the door on a solemn time in Haitian history. It shed light on Columbia due to the perpetrators residing there but also because of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate who suffered the same fate as other armed men based in Colombia. Venezuela voiced its support for Ecuador’s claims by saying a “gang of Colombian hitmen” committed political violence outside Colombian borders. 

The United States backed support with action by signing the December 21 Accord, along with a host of other political actors and civil society groups, that aims to establish a new transitional and representative government that will lead to free and fair elections by the end of 2023. United States Ambassador Robert Wood stated the accord is “an opportunity for Hattians” to work towards bringing stability to the country by “improving governance.” Ecuador was crucial to the negotiations and drafting of the resolution that relied heavily on international support.

Foreign Intervention

In late 2022, Prime Minister Ariel Henry made a plea for armed, multinational support. Kenya stepped forward volunteering to lead such a force, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supporting the deployment, believing it needs to be both “robust” and “rapid.” The U.S. previously said it would provide foreign aid to Haiti, and with Ecuador, introduced a resolution to the United Nations that would authorize the deployment; an action that long-term, is designed to bring stability to and fight poverty in Haiti by the U.S. and Ecuador.  

The Haitian people back the force because it is a way for the country to push out street gangs, which are the root cause of much of insecurity and poverty in Haiti. Reuters reports that around 70% of people would support it in coordination with the national police

Both countries reiterated their support for Haiti at the United Nations Security Council meeting in early 2023, with the U.S. saying it is encouraged by the outpouring of support and Ecuador acknowledging the efforts of the national police under the conditions. Haiti lacks the resources to “resolve this crisis alone,” said Victor Généus, Haiti’s Foreign Affairs Minister and the security risk that Haiti is facing, is a security threat to the whole region. Stopping it at the source is mutually beneficial for many near the small Caribbean nation.

– Benett Crim
Photo: Flickr

NGOs in Haiti
The Republic of Haiti is a small country between the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Between the breathtaking shorelines and the mountainous terrain, Haiti is full of lush culture – including African, Taino and European influence. Despite Haiti’s rich environment and culture, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Haitian people are currently facing poverty rates of more than 90% in some areas, and 4.3 million Haitians are in need of immediate food assistance. Here is information about three NGOs in Haiti that are working to fight poverty.

3 NGOs in Haiti Currently Working to Fight Poverty

  1. Beyond Borders: Beyond Borders is an NGO that targets multiple facets of Haiti’s poverty problems, building movements that provide space for the liberation of the Haitian people. One of the issues it seeks to address is the lack of education among young girls. In Haiti, only a third of Haitian girls complete primary schooling. A lack of education and community support perpetuates unsafe environments for young girls as gender-based violence increases with unequal education. In Haiti, one in six young girls are forced into slavery and a fourth of young girls experience sexual abuse. The physical and mental wellness of these girls diminishes at alarming rates after these traumatic experiences, and this leads to further separation of girls from their education and opportunities. Beyond Borders’ has initiated plans to build more schools and has already empowered change in current educational programs in Haiti. The organization has trained 63 teachers in three secondary schools to integrate equality into class lessons, including gender-based violence (GBV) reduction. Power to Girls, the inclusion lesson, continues to reach more communities as support for the NGO grows. Beyond Borders, together with other NGOs in Haiti, works to improve access to school and long-term education for young women, freeing enslaved girls and preventing further enslavement. 
  2. Partners in Health: In 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing destruction across the country. Unfortunately, Haiti’s infrastructure could not withstand a natural disaster like an earthquake, causing it to crumble into rubble, while the density of people in affected areas contributed to the high death rates and chaos. Haiti is still experiencing the devastation of the 2010 earthquake. More than 300,000 people died in the earthquake and even more sustained injuries. Partners in Health is an international nonprofit that provides social and medical assistance to the Haitian people that the earthquake impacted. The organization treats all scales of harm the earthquake inflicted, and since its inception in August 2021, it has been able to receive and treat 67,658 patients. Its treatment includes psychosocial support – something it continues to emphasize in its mission statement. The earthquake led to the ruin of medical care, resulting in challenges with accessing health care. PIH provides free, quality healthcare to the people of Haiti, while also opening new hospitals and providing opportunities to lift families from poverty. 
  3. Agua Pura Para El Pueblo: Cholera, an illness from intestinal infection, is a severe issue for Haitians. Contaminated drinking water often leads to death through waterborne illness, and Cholera has caused more than 820,000 Haitian deaths in the last decade. Agua Pura Para El Pueblo is an NGO that focuses on providing potable water to South American countries that suffer from contaminated water. It has a focus in Haiti to improve its sanitation situation and increase access to clean water. The rate of Cholera in Haiti over the past year spiked to 30,000 cases, leading to 90% of patients being hospitalized. Despite political unrest challenging the distribution of life-saving materials, Agua Pura has been able to manage protective materials and volunteers in heavily affected areas, providing protection and support to those in need. It also provides water testing kits and stations that determine if a family’s water is contaminated, and should they receive a positive result, Agua Pura provides materials and assistance for affected families to ensure safe conditions. The organization has reached thousands of people, sending immediate support and protection from the deadly effects of contaminated water.

Moving Forward

Recovery in Haiti is a gradual process. The people of Haiti continue to show remarkable strength and resilience despite the devastation of their homes and the hardships they’ve faced. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are actively involved in Haiti, working to build earthquake-resistant schools and hospitals. These efforts are laying the groundwork for the nation’s recovery.

– Eden Ambrovich
Photo: Unsplash

Jane BirkinA cultural icon, Jane Birkin captured the hearts of many through her exceptional talents and distinct style. Her collaborations with the French singer Serge Gainsbourg not only redefined music but also left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape. Songs like “Je t’aime… moi non plus” became anthems of an era, showcasing her evocative voice and unique artistic expression.

She is also known for her great contributions to the world of film and fashion. She graced the silver screen in both British and French cinema and is famously the inspiration behind the ‘Birkin Bag’ by fashion house Hermes. Her beauty, grace and charisma made her a symbol of artistic liberation and creativity.

Many of the obituaries of Jane Birkin cover all of this information, remembering Birkin for her artistic achievements. While her accomplishments in the artistic world were both incredible and undeniable, her humanitarian work was also significant.  As a singer, she used her talent to bring light and hope to those who needed it most.

“Je Suis Pas d’Accord”

In the new millennium, following her rise to stardom, Jane Birkin shifted her focus to philanthropy. For example, she worked closely with Amnesty International, an organization devoted to global human rights. During the organization’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2001, which coincided with their commitment to eradicating torture, Birkin boldly tackled the uncomfortable subject. Taking to the screen once more, this time in a television interview, she addressed the issue.

Empathizing with her audience, she acknowledged that there are moments when one can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and question the impact one individual can have. However, she asserted that this is a misconception; even the smallest act of publicly condemning practices like torture, simply stating, “Je ne suis pas d’accord” (I disagree), can wield significant influence, demonstrating an unwavering faith in collective strength and the power of advocacy.

Aung San Suu Kyi

One way in which Jane Birkin demonstrated her commitment to human rights and philanthropy was by doing what she did best: music. She released a song with Amnesty International titled “Aung San Suu Kyi,” named after the Burmese political leader. The song was to shed light on Aung San Suu Kyi’s plight for democratic freedom, inspired by this woman who spent 15 years under house arrest. Birkin’s dedication to advocating for justice and freedom didn’t go unnoticed, and it led to her being denied a visa by the Chinese government ahead of an organized concert.

Despite facing obstacles, her relentless efforts in raising awareness about human rights violations and her collaboration with both Amnesty International and the International Human Rights Federation showcased her deep compassion and unwavering commitment to making the world a more just and equitable place.

Her Songs Touched Our Hearts

In addition to her advocacy endeavors, Jane Birkin displayed a strong desire to contribute more directly. Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, she joined forces with the nonprofit organization International Movement ATD Fourth World. This organization had a dedicated team on the ground in Haiti, providing assistance to families in vulnerable situations. In April of the same year, Jane Birkin embarked on a journey to Haiti, accompanied by members from the ATD Fourth World Volunteer Corps.

During her time in Haiti, Birkin engaged directly with people impacted by the earthquake. She connected with Haitian children and patients in hospitals, lending her voice to songs of hope. Through her musical talent, she managed to inspire optimism in a place where it had been scarce. The climax of her visit came in the form of a concert, where she shared the stage with local Haitian musicians. This performance is etched in the minds and hearts of attendees, many of whom still vividly recall the emotions they felt on that day. A member of the ATD Volunteer Corps, Jacqueline Plaisir, said that “her songs touched our hearts.”

Jane Birkin’s involvement extended beyond the spotlight; she actively participated in the day-to-day activities of the volunteers in Haiti. This included accompanying them on visits to families in need and ensuring that essential resources reached even the most isolated corners of the affected region.

“It May Even Be Selfish”

Upon her return from Haiti, a conference organized by ATD Fourth World was held to discuss the reconstruction of the affected areas. Birkin shared her own experiences in the country with those present, including her motivations: “It was a reward for all these years of being something that resembles a singer.”

When asked about the possibility of retiring, she resolutely declared her commitment to continue. She considered her humanitarian endeavors not as difficult tasks, but rather as experiences that consistently filled her with a sense of amazement. Even amid the direst of circumstances, she found solace in the kindness of those tirelessly striving to help and enact positive change. She even went as far as to say that her work “may even be selfish,” as she felt invigorated after her visits.


Setting aside her artistic accomplishments, Jane Birkin’s life was a tapestry of remarkable experiences. Her dedication to humanitarian causes yielded lasting memories for those who were present. This article merely scratches the surface of Birkin’s humanitarian contributions. She also embarked on journeys to destinations like Israel, Palestine and Rwanda and collaborated with organizations during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Birkin’s legacy will live on in the hearts of those she touched, such as the Haitian musician Jean-Francois Gay, who aptly expressed this sentiment by saying that in his homeland “we like to say that those who do good never die.”

– Danielle Chorley
Photo: Flickr

Economic Crisis in Haiti
Haiti is undergoing significant economic turmoil. The economic crisis in Haiti has posed challenges for families in affording essential items like food and has also affected their ability to sell crops in local markets. Political instability,
natural disasters and social unrest have worsened these challenges, further affecting the country’s capacity to attain sustainable economic growth and improve the well-being of its impoverished population.

Haiti’s Turbulent Economic History

During the past few years, Haiti’s economy has been under pressure due to several factors such as natural disasters, diseases, political instability, mishandling of humanitarian assistance and the devaluation of its national currency. The country’s previously thriving tourism industry has declined as well. In contrast to the peak of 1.3 million tourists in 2018, which brought in $620 million in revenue, Haiti only received 938,000 visitors in 2019. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic also significantly curtailed travel and economic activity.

After an earthquake in 2010, international lenders canceled Haiti’s debt; however, its borrowing has increased to around $3.57 billion since then. Additional turmoil, such as the growing protest movement, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, consecutive natural disasters in July and August of the same year and widespread gang-related violence, has further strained the nation’s economic circumstances. 

In 2022, armed gangs fueled the economic crisis in Haiti with their actions, including blocking the southern entry to the nation’s capital, which isolated four departments from the rest of the country. These areas produce consumer goods supplied to Pourt-au-Prince, and the blockade affected the country’s economy during a severe nationwide fuel shortage. This also exacerbated the hunger crisis in Haiti, with a total of 4.9 million people in Haiti experiencing food insecurity. 


The United States is the largest contributor of humanitarian aid to Haiti. The U.S. prioritizes fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, upholding human rights and strengthening democratic institutions. To combat poverty and address persistent unemployment by creating jobs, the U.S. promotes bilateral trade and investment in Haiti. The substantial Haitian diaspora in the U.S. presents a potential influential partner in the endeavor to expand business prospects and capitalize on the numerous connections that bind Haitian and American communities.

The International Development Association (IDA) supports the government of Haiti to address the ongoing economic crisis in Haiti. They participate in supporting private secret actors and removing infrastructure barriers to market access. IDA’s support centers around enhancing human capital by expanding access to education in health care. Simultaneously, the IDA assists the government in enhancing transparency, accountability and efficacy in public investment This effort also involves strengthening institutional capabilities to generate crucial data, manage sectors, establish evidence-based policy priorities and cultivate fiscal sustainability.

Looking Ahead

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), achieving lasting economic security will rely on increasing investment levels in both the public and private sectors to foster rapid and more inclusive growth. Developing infrastructure, enhancing productivity on farms, increasing manufacturing and ensuring the provision of fundamental services will have the potential to create connections that will establish are more lawful development cycle.

– Marisa Del Vecchio
Photo: Flickr

Natural Disasters in HaitiHistorically, Haiti has been one of the most vulnerable countries to natural disasters worldwide, with more than 96% of the population exposed to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and more. These natural disasters in Haiti only make living in poverty more challenging.

The State of Poverty in Haiti

Due to political, economic and social issues, the poverty rate in Haiti aligns with the World Bank’s extreme poverty line; as of 2021, 30.3% of people in Haiti live on less than $2.15 a day. The state of politics in Haiti has been particularly precarious in the 2020s due to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. Furthermore, gang violence in Haiti has increased to the point where the Mercy Corps humanitarian group has declared that the country is on the “brink of civil war.” 

The gang violence and political instability in Haiti have worsened poverty rates due to a lack of security and safety; families cannot easily access food and clean water, or go to a hospital or health clinic for fear of being kidnapped or killed by gang members. What’s more, cholera rates have shot up, with 400 weekly cases reported from July 1, 2023. 

Thus, the effects of natural disasters in Haiti have impacted already poor living conditions and increased the rate of poverty significantly. 

Rate of Natural Disasters in Haiti

The World Bank records show that from 1980 to 2020, Haiti experienced a multitude of floods, storms, landslides, droughts, epidemics and earthquakes. The most frequently occurring of these events annually are floods, with an average of 57 taking place yearly from 1980 to 2020. 

In June 2023, Haiti was hit particularly hard by a consecutive flood and earthquake. Mere days after flash floods had displaced 13,000 people and killed 50, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred and destroyed houses, hospitals and roads. According to reports, the death toll stands at four and the number of injured people is 37. Many people were unable to receive medical attention at hospitals due to destroyed roads both caused and worsened by the flood and earthquake combined. 

Dr. Didinu Tamakloe, country director for Project Hope, said to The Guardian, “Disasters keep hitting Haiti, left and right. People have not had sufficient time to recover from previous disasters…” Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is partly due to its position on a fault line between two huge tectonic plates: the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. When these plates shift, Haiti is the most susceptible to any effects it causes. The World Bank states that the frequency of natural disasters in Haiti is also due to its location in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the steep structure of its land. 

The high rate at which natural disasters occur in Haiti results in a lack of time to recover between disasters. Shortages of resources like food and water often cannot be resolved in time, and structures often cannot be rebuilt before they are affected once more. Therefore, natural disasters in Haiti are a significant driving force behind its high poverty rate. 

The 2010 Earthquake

Another natural disaster in Haiti this century was the earthquake of January 2010, where up to 100,000 people were killed. The fallout of the earthquake left many residents with no access to water, finances, food, shelter and medical equipment. Many were still digging in the rubble for missing loved ones two days after the earthquake occurred. 

Much like in 2023 and 2021, charities did whatever they could to help. For example, the U.N. raised more than £107 million in appeal donations and helped at least 1.8 million people.

What Is Being Done To Help

The Red Cross is constantly helping Haiti in many ways. As of this article’s publication, aid for Haiti is still in its early stages. NGOs are being organized to send to the country to provide assistance, and political negotiations are taking place with Haiti’s prime minister calling for troops from the U.N. to help gain control amid the rising gang violence. 

Charities including UNICEF, the World Food Program (WPF) and the International Organisation for Migration, are working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to help those affected by the earthquake and floods. The World Food Program is set to distribute 350,000 hot meals to those displaced by the disasters. 

In the aftermath of the August 2021 Earthquake:

  • Six Red Cross ambulances were deployed to transport people from affected areas to health centers. 
  • 25,000 people were provided with essentials like hygienic supplies, blankets, tarpaulins, etc.
  • 32 volunteers worked with Restore Family Links to reunite separated loved ones.
  • Volunteers continually assessed the damage and provided aid where needed. 

While the rate of natural disasters in Haiti is detrimental to the country’s stability, the assistance provided by charities like the Red Cross is what helps them to recover and persist. 

– Jess Wilkinson
Photo: Flickr

Crime and Poverty in HaitiHaiti is both the poorest and most dangerous country in the Caribbean, the World Bank says. Political instability, civil unrest and a geographic location with a high risk of natural disasters keep almost 60% of Haitians below the international poverty line. Simultaneously, Haiti ranks 58th on the Global Organized Crime Index of 2023, and the U.S. has issued a warning against travel to Haiti because of dangerous conditions related to gangs and other organized crime. In other words, crime is rampant in an already impoverished nation. The connection between crime and poverty in Haiti results in a catch-22, or vicious, cycle. In this country, crime exists because extreme poverty exists. 

Poverty as a Breeding Ground for Gang Violence in Haiti

Simply put, political dysfunction, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have ensured that as of 2023, more than half of Haitians live below the poverty line. This poor circumstance allows organized crime to thrive. A lack of jobs and government instability open space for gangs to offer the structure, stability and income that Haitians desire. Haiti has such poverty, desperation and lack of political strength that more than 200 gangs have formed in the last five years. However, gangs do not offer the social stability or solution to poverty that Haitians might hope for. 

Nearly 100 gangs, half of the gangs in the entire country, currently fight for control of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. So many rival gangs in such close proximity cause extreme danger for Port-au-Prince’s residents, but Haiti’s current government is not powerful enough to regain control of the city. 

Gangs do not lift Haitians out of poverty the way that official government action could. For instance, by building infrastructure, protecting against natural disasters, increasing education rates or developing industry. Rather, gangs introduce extreme violence and cause long-term damage to a country already ransacked by extreme poverty.

Gangs are responsible for much of the crime in Haiti; the crime rate has more than doubled from 2022 to 2023 and more than 1,600 crimes occurred in just the first quarter of 2023. These crimes, including homicides and kidnappings, impede both immediate and long-term solutions to poverty because crime wrecks stability. Children, for example, run the risk of shootings at school and in the streets, impacting their education and the chance of a prosperous future. In other words, the crime-ridden atmosphere that poverty creates guarantees that poverty will continue — the catch-22 of crime and poverty in Haiti. 

Aid to Haiti

Despite the catch-22 that encloses Haitians in an unending loop of danger and poverty, some hope remains outside the loop. The U.S. has a close partnership with Haiti and is responsible for the largest amount of humanitarian aid sent to Haiti in 2023. Since 2021, USAID has provided Haiti with a total of $278 million for humanitarian assistance, societal advancement and the development of a reliable health care system; more than $110 million of this aid has come in 2023.

In addition to USAID, many nonprofit organizations work in Haiti to promote health, development and safety despite the threat of gangs. In fact, Haiti is known as the “republic of NGOs” due to the amount of aid that has poured into the country from nonprofits since the earthquake of 2010.

Hope for Haiti is one particularly successful NGO that aims to promote education among Haiti’s children. To date, Hope for Haiti has paid the salaries of 400 teachers, which opened space for more than 4,000 children to attend school. Regular school attendance guarantees Haitian children some form of stability amid the chaos of a gang-ridden country, allowing them the opportunity of a promising future. 

Although crime in Haiti is at an all-time high, which cycles into high poverty rates, the support of the U.S. and NGOs helps millions of Haitians living below the poverty line. 

– Suzanne Ackley
Photo: Unsplash

Eliminating Food Insecurity in Haiti
In an age where technology and electronic devices are at many people’s fingertips, global inequities can appear even starker — as William Gibson stated, “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” The world’s 2 billion smartphones outnumber its hungry children by 20 to one. But apps such as Share The Meal are pioneering new ways to use the power of our smartphones to help those living in poverty and food insecurity.

Food Insecurity in Haiti

As the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti’s poverty rate reached almost 60% in 2020, and it is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world with regard to food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), almost half of the Haitian population — 4.9 million people — are underfed, and 1.8 million are at dangerous levels of food insecurity. Because of this, children are malnourished and underweight, and 66% of children under the age of 5 are anemic, affecting their early-stage development.

One of the main reasons for food insecurity in Haiti is poor agricultural performance. Although roughly two in three people in the Haitian workforce have employment within the agricultural sector, agriculture only actually accounts for 25% of Haiti’s gross domestic product.

More than 40% of Haitian land is under cultivation although only 20% of its land is even suitable for agriculture. Poor soil quality and soil erosion are among the leading problems with the land, and environmental issues such as droughts and lack of irrigation make it difficult to grow crops on land which does not have soil issues.

Haiti, therefore, relies heavily on importing food, which exposes its food market to price rises and inflation from the international market. The food insecurity situation has been desperate in recent years, but this could all change due to the development of an app eliminating food insecurity in Haiti.

Share The Meal App

The United Nations World Food Programme is helping people connect with the fight to end world hunger via a smartphone application called Share The Meal. Users of the app can support relief campaigns in poverty-stricken places all over the world at the touch of a button, whether they give one meal or one year’s worth. One meal that the WFP supplies costs only $0.80 (USD) or £0.65 (GBP), and according to WFP data, more than 150 million meals have been shared since the launch of the app in 2015.

The WFP aims to reach and support 512 million people via Share The Meal in 2023. The app allows users to choose a campaign or “goal” to donate to, which gives recipients nutrition support, agricultural support, school meals and emergency assistance depending on their needs.

Eliminating Food Insecurity in Haiti

Many people are choosing to support eliminating food insecurity in Haiti through Share The Meal’s “Improve Food Security for Families in Haiti” campaign. Haitians taking part in this poverty-fighting initiative receive cash support from the WFP donations to build protective measures for their agricultural sector, such as restoring local ecosystems to act as barriers to the climate, soil and water conservation efforts and providing local farmers with essential training on how to boost agriculture.

The WFP, with Share The Meal, is building more long-term solutions in Limbé in the Nord Department of Haiti, so people have better access to food and water, and food production is more steady and sustained. Repairing irrigation canals and planting trees such as pineapple and elephant grass are helping to reduce flooding and protect existing crops, allowing for the successful cultivation of more crops. This has promoted more sustainable ecosystems and facilitated a better standard of nutrition and is gradually eliminating food insecurity in Haiti. Funds that Share The Meal raise have also allowed for a 6,000-gallon reservoir to be built, which is providing locals with access to clean drinking water, as well as a reliable source of water to tend their crops.

The Haitian government is also working with WFP to provide school meals from local agricultural produce. This system involves the procurement of rice, fruit and vegetables from smallholder farmers, which gives them not only a more stable market for their goods but allows them to contribute to the nourishment of local children and help with eliminating food insecurity.

Overall, Share the Meal is working not only to improve food security, but it is equipping Haitians with the tools they need to strengthen their agricultural knowledge and resources, which is eliminating food insecurity in Haiti due to the shortcomings of the agricultural sector. The success of this Share The Meal campaign is a reminder of how impactful our decisions as smartphone users can be, and how technology can help in the fight against global poverty.

– Molly Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Social and economic progress in Haiti has suffered negative impacts from factors such as natural disasters, political unrest and violence. According to the World Bank, Haiti ranks as the poorest nation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. Due to high levels of poverty and food insecurity, international aid efforts have not yet yielded desired results. However, agroecology seems to be steering Haiti toward the direction of progress.

Haiti’s Problems

The political landscape in the country has been tumultuous. After years of dictatorship since the late 1950s which drained Haiti economically, it had its first democratically elected leaders in the 1990s. Nonetheless, prevalent corruption and multiple coupes prevented the national government from bringing positive change to Haiti. More recently, in 2021, the country’s former president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated. Gang-related violence has also been a threat in many parts of the country.

On top of these struggles, Haiti is vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. The World Bank reports that “more than 96% of the population is exposed to these types of shocks.” A devastating earthquake struck the country in 2010, killing 220,000 people and causing significant damage. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “at $8 billion, basic reconstruction costs surpassed the country’s annual GDP.” In 2021, an earthquake struck the country and caused more than 2,000 deaths.

All these challenges have contributed to a rise in poverty in Haiti. According to the World Bank, the nation had a Gross National Income (GNI) of $1,420 in 2021. This was the lowest in the LAC region which had an average GNI of $15,092 around the same period. The World Bank’s reports suggest that Haiti’s economy has been in decline since 2019.

Past Aid

Haiti has received aid from the global community in times of need. For example, the U.S. has been providing much of its aid through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In January 2023, USAID pledged $56.5 million to fight the current cholera outbreak in Haiti. Also, since 2010, the U.S. has provided more than $5.6 billion to support the country.

The European Union also assists Haiti in times of vulnerability, and this was the case during the 2010 and 2021 earthquakes. Since 1994, the EU has spent €471.5 million in aid to Haiti. Other organizations like the British Red Cross also provide vital support during natural disasters.

While these efforts have evidently helped Haiti achieve results in difficult times, the issues of poverty and food insecurity still remain in the country.

Agroecology in Haiti

Agriculture is a major part of Haitian people’s lives, with around 30% of Haiti’s workforce depending on it. In response to this, organizations such as Partenariat pour le Développement Local (PDL) are exploring agroecology as a potential solution to poverty and food insecurity.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “agroecology is an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.” It explores the interconnectedness of the various elements of an ecosystem and utilizes it to increase agricultural productivity.

The Haiti Center for Agroecology (HCA) aims to utilize this unique aspect of agroecology to boost the agricultural productivity of local subsistence farmers. The HCA believes that industrial agriculture and mass production can push nations like Haiti into depending on international support. For this reason, the organization works toward educating and supporting farmers through the principles of agroecology, while strengthening the local economy and environment. It offers various on-site research and educational opportunities that focus on improving food security and self-reliance.

As an NGO and member of Groundswell International, PDL plays a significant role in advocating for agroecology in Haiti. Groundswell International is a coalition of organizations promoting agroecology in the Americas, Africa and Asia. PDL’s mission includes empowering local communities and farmers to sustain themselves.

Haiti Agroecology Reports and Policies

A report by the Economic of Land Degradation (ELD) states that PDL endorses “the 13 agroecological principles consolidated by the international High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition in July 2019, based on the 10 elements proposed by the FAO in 2018, as well as the gradual transformation of agri-food systems from farm to wider societal levels.”

Since government programs that support agriculture in Haiti are minimal, PDL aims to decrease the reliance of local farmers on external support by creating farmer communities and associations and teaching them self-reliance.

Typically, PDL organizes up to 15 people into small groups called gwoupman. Each group comprises people working toward shared interests. Having multiple gwoupman within a village allows farmers to share agroecological concepts and resolve any issues by themselves. In essence, gwoupman groups enable easy connection or communication between communities across several villages.

The ELD Initiative released a policy brief based on a study in which PDL and Groundswell International took part. It showed that embracing agroecology leads to increased productivity, water retention, carbon sequestration and food security, along with reduced topsoil loss and mudslides.

The study revealed the economic benefits of agroecology over conventional farming. According to the study, conventional farmers make only half as much income as farmers that implement agroecology.

What’s Next?

Several studies have shown that agroecology can help in alleviating food insecurity in Haiti. While the country’s poverty issues persist, organizations like PDL and Groundswell International continue to make progress in getting local farmers to adopt agroecology. With more progress, there may yet be hope for economic prosperity in the future.

Siddhant Bhatnagar

Photo: Flickr