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

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

Poverty in Haiti

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

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

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

Program Design

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

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

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

Program Reach

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

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

Female Empowerment

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

Microfinance

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

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

Successes

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

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

– Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

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

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Haiti

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

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

– Grace Gay
Photo: Flickr

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

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

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Haiti

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

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

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

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr

food insecurity in Haiti
Since 2011, Oxfam Livelihoods Program has been influential in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley, working with rice farmers in the region. Due to extreme food insecurity, a vast majority of families in Haiti rely on local agriculture for survival. Oxfam’s Haiti Livelihoods Program aims to increase rice production, improve production techniques, empower local farmers and decrease food insecurity in this small country.

The poverty rate in Haiti falls just below 60 percent, with 24 percent of Haitians living on less than $1.23 per day. Only 6 percent of the Artibonite Valley’s inhabitants are unaffected by hunger, and 43 percent are extremely food insecure.

The Program

This is in large part due to the natural disasters that plague the country. Within the last ten years, Haiti has experienced hurricanes, floods, droughts and an earthquake, ranking fifth among countries most likely to have a natural disaster. Approximately 98 percent of the nation is at risk to experience one or more of these disasters, as well as epidemics. A lack of sanitation and health services increases the risk of fecal waterborne diseases, including cholera.

Oxfam began its Artibonite Valley Livelihoods Program in 2011 following the earthquake that struck the country the year before. Up to 80 percent of the nation’s rice is produced in this valley, making its success and growth crucial to reducing food insecurity in Haiti. Additionally, food production, processing and marketing are essential components of Haiti’s economy, employing more than 70 percent of the population. Oxfam states that they are helping Artibonite’s residents to “overcome barriers and realize the potential of the valley.”  

The program relies on partnerships with local organizations, including government agencies, NGOs and microfinance institutions. Oxfam has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that program accomplishments have long-lasting effects.

On a local level, Oxfam works with local farmers groups, women’s associations, water users organizations and training centers. The process of improving systems of agricultural production, processing and marketing includes upgrading irrigation and drainage canals to decrease flooding, training youth in the mechanical skills needed for agriculture, helping farmers expand and diversify their sources of income, improving access to agricultural credit and promoting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).

The System of Rice Intensification

The SRI is a critical component of improving farming systems around the world, enabling farmers to produce more food in a way that is cost-effective and sustainable, using less water, seeds, fertilizer and labor. This increase in production helps meet local food needs, helping to reduce food insecurity in Haiti. SRI also decreases pollution and the negative effects agriculture can have on the environment. Farmers in Madagascar, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Mali have adopted SRI methods.

Recommended SRI practices include spacing rice seedlings farther apart and transplanting them when they are young to reduce crowding and strengthen root systems, using integrated pest management instead of herbicides, applying water intermittently rather than continuously, using organic matter to enrich the soil, aerating the topsoil and removing weeds with manual weeders.

As SRI requires no additional machinery and farmers can easily make site-specific adaptations that will meet their needs, SRI is affordable for small-scale farmers, in addition to being environmentally friendly and aiding in the reduction of food insecurity. An evaluation of the Livelihoods Program from 2011 to 2014 found that SRI had succeeded in more than doubling rice production in some farms.

Program’s other methods

The Artibonite Valley Livelihoods Program also employs other methods for transforming Haiti’s environment and improving conditions for its inhabitants. Oxfam has been facilitating networking across geographic areas to improve cross-learning and coordinating, improving the technical, business and administrating capacities of community organizations, raising awareness among Haitian consumers on the importance of local production and supporting the newly developed National Federation of Haitian Rice Producers.

Oxfam also addresses gender inequality in Haitian agriculture by ensuring women are participating in all activities and by holding workshops on gender issues, advocacy and campaigning. In 2014, the program was found to have improved women’s roles in the public and economic spheres and increased their decision-making within their households.

Possible improvements of the Program

The 2014 evaluation of the Livelihoods Program did, however, note a few areas in need of improvement. First, the program did not help increase the competitiveness of the goods produced, causing farmers to have continuing difficulties selling their products. The program also did not provide solutions for access to fertilizers, seeds and irrigated water.

Recommendations for program improvement include ensuring all projects are locally-appropriate, increasing the adoption of SRI by working with the Ministry of Agriculture and distributing data on SRI techniques, creating a reliable system to monitor crop yield and looking for more efficient and affordable farming equipment.

Overall, Oxfam’s Artibonite Valley Livelihoods Program has made great strides in improving rice production and continues to be an integral part of decreasing food insecurity in Haiti and improving the overall livelihoods of its residents.

Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Pneumonia in Haiti
Pneumonia is lung inflammation caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide for children under the age of five. The issue is exacerbated by environmental and economic factors. Malnutrition weakens the immune system, especially in young children, and leaves people more susceptible to disease. Poverty and inadequate public infrastructure lead to poor access to medical care, affecting both those who are already sick and those trying not to contract an illness. By nearly every metric, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and this is further illustrated by the country’s high rates of pneumonia.

Vaccination Efforts in Haiti

According to a study conducted by Albert Schweitzer Hospital, pneumonia in Haiti is responsible for close to 40 percent of all deaths in children under the age of five. In response to the epidemic of pneumonia in Haiti, the Haitian government has focused on vaccinating more people. However, the country still lags behind the rest of the world in vaccination rates; according to a 2012 study, only 45 percent of children between one and two years old have been satisfactorily vaccinated.

The Benefits of Foreign Aid

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, also known as the GAVI Alliance, has helped the Haitian government in reaching its vaccination goals. In a 2012 press release, the GAVI Alliance announced a nationwide vaccination campaign that would utilize both the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which would target the primary causes of pneumonia and diarrhea. The organization has also pledged $9.2 million in total support to the people of Haiti. The funding has gone toward immunization, injection safety and medical training.

Other organizations have attempted to address the problem of pneumonia in Haiti. In conjunction with USAID, the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) runs 60 mobile health clinics that visit villages around Jérémie, a coastal town in southwestern Haiti. USAID also leads a team of health agents, who provide life-saving medical knowledge and doctor referrals so that victims of pneumonia can find the help they need. Within Jérémie, the Haitian Health Foundation runs a 27,000-square-foot outpatient clinic which serves more than 120,000 patients per year.

The Future of the Fight Against Pneumonia

However, the fight against pneumonia in Haiti is far from over. There are still massive regional disparities in vaccinations in Haiti which result in disparities in instances of pneumonia. For example, a study of vaccinations in Haiti found that western Haiti, as well as parts along the eastern coast, had a vaccination rate between 55 and 65 percent. In contrast, large swathes of central and southern Haiti had a vaccination rate of less than 35 percent.

The work of organizations like the GAVI Alliance, the Haitian Health Foundation and the government of Haiti has produced positive results in alleviating pneumonia. In southwest Haiti, child deaths from pneumonia have been cut in half. As a whole, Haiti’s mortality rate for people afflicted by pneumonia has plummeted since the ‘90s, despite the spike in pneumonia cases that occurred between 2004 and 2013. The fight is not over, but important battles are being won against pneumonia in Haiti.

-Peter Buffo
Photo: Flickr

Trades of Hope Addresses Haiti’s Orphan Crisis Sustainably
Haiti currently ranks as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With a population of 10 million, almost 60 percent of Haitians live under the national poverty line, which acts as a huge contributor to Haiti’s orphan crisis.

Conditions on Haiti

The country’s location on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean has also served as a large contributor to the nation’s extreme poverty. Hurricanes regularly blaze through this portion of the Atlantic Ocean, and the subsequent hurricanes that hit Haiti in August and September 2008, Gustav and Ike, killed nearly 800 Haitians and destroyed crops, making Haiti dependent on international relief efforts.

Only a year and a half later, another natural disaster struck the country. The January 2010 earthquake destroyed more infrastructure, ravaging the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and its surroundings, further harming Haiti’s functionality and increasing foreign aid dependence.

Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October 2016. This time the south was particularly ravaged, as the natural disaster damaged homes, infrastructure, more crops and livestock.

Orphans and Natural Disaster

The devastating consequences of natural disasters on the country’s resources and economy led to Haiti’s orphan crisis — currently, about 500,000 children are considered orphans. Interestingly, the Haitian government estimates that about 80 percent of these children have at least one living parent.

This confusing discrepancy seems directly linked to the series of natural disasters. For instance, the 2010 earthquake left more than two million Haitians — a fifth of the country’s population — homeless and caused many Haitian parents to believe their children would be better off in orphanages that would at least provide shelter.

Orphanages appear to have the resources to feed, educate and care for children whose parents struggle to combat the effects of natural disasters. This is an idealized view exacerbated by many orphanages who send employees into the community to encourage parents to send their children into the “shelters” for care.

Orphanages perform this reconnaissance as many shelters are not regulated and do not actually adopt children and instead exploit them as laborers. About 300,000 children work as servants in private residences in Haiti, and according to UNICEF, many children are also sold into the sex trade.

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has become a major market for Haitian child trafficking, with an estimated 2,000 children sold there each year. This abusiveness and corruption by some orphanages have created Haiti’s orphan crisis.

Combatting Corruption

Trades of Hope, an ethical jewelry company, seeks to treat Haiti’s orphan crisis at its root of poverty, instead of treating the symptoms. Co-founder Gretchen Huijskens already had a nonprofit in Haiti, with an orphanage, school and medical clinic, but while providing safe places for the orphans generated by natural disasters was important to her, Huijskens saw a need to help children by keeping them with family members. Such a goal requires parents being able to afford their children.

At the same time, co-founder Holly Wehde realized the effectiveness of the home-party method for sales, and Trades of Hope was founded in June 2010. These two influential individuals believe sustainable business provides a long-term solution to poverty. Therefore, Trades of Hope provides a platform for local artisans to sell their products.

Trades of Hope finds these artisans through nonprofits and co-ops in Haiti, that they verify through English speaking Americans in Haiti and with a Fair Trade Principles Agreement. Through these means, Trades of Hope helps artisans earn $15 a day, when the minimum wage in Haiti is about $5 a day. By their estimates, this money can provide adequate resources for two and a half children, enabling families to keep their children instead of fueling Haiti’s orphan crisis.

Fostering Global Involvement

The founders invite American women to partner in creating this sustainable business, through selling products as Compassionate Entrepreneurs and buying their goods through home parties and their website. Trades of Hope also eases the way for American women to make a difference in Haiti.

While assisting in alleviating the orphan crisis by adopting a child costs around $25,000, buying jewelry and other products from Haiti provides a cheaper alternative. One of the more expensive products is still only $80, and consumers receive a chocolate goat leather and cream canvas crossbody bag, called the Chandler Bag.

Sustainable Solutions

Even less expensive and more sustainable options exist such as the Revive Necklace, a long silver pendant with pink tassels priced at $33. The steel for the pendant comes from recycled steel oil drums, a source that allows more money to go directly to the artisans instead of materials.

This model of selling beautiful products to American consumers who want to support local artisans and their children has proved extremely lucrative and effective. Trades of Hope claims that 1,183 Haitians have been positively impacted.

The company has expanded to 17 countries since 2010 and has 9,440 full-time employees. This substantial group fosters the environment and provides the solutions to combat Haitian poverty at the root, and thereby reduce corruption and struggle as in Haiti’s orphan crisis.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Haiti
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti. In the aftermath, 200,000 people were left dead and 1.5 million homeless. Homes, hospitals and government buildings crumbled, leaving communities scrambling for essential resources and shelter.

Volunteers and relief organizations across the globe swarmed with aid. Most aid groups from the earthquake have since left and the rebuilding process now lies in the hands of Haitian community members and scholars. Eight years later, many still live without basic services (clean water, plumbing) or health resources.

Citizens agree that girls’ education in Haiti and community development need to improve before the country can truly recover. A recent study using World Bank data has listed Haiti as a nation significantly below global enrollment rates for girls in schools.

World Bank data from 2014 states 15 percent of girls 12 to 18 are no longer in school, compared to 11 percent for boys. Only 45 percent of Haitian women over 15 are literate, compared to 53 percent for men over 15 years old. For effective redevelopment, the trends for girls’ education in Haiti are something both locals and researchers agree need to change.

In response to lower female community involvement and enrollment in schools, many research and educational programs focused on girls’ education in Haiti have started gaining popularity throughout the island nation.

Jayne Engle, a doctor of participatory community development in post-earthquake Haiti, conducted a post-earthquake study focused on effective and sustainable community development in Bellevue-La-Montagne, a small community near Port-au-Prince. She prioritized the rebuilding process by the following “levers of transformation:”

  1. Education (for all)
  2. Place identity, networks and research
  3. Social entrepreneurship and social innovation
  4. State-society trust and accountability

Engle worked extensively with community leaders to develop educational programs concerning social entrepreneurship, healthcare, environmental stewardship, community agriculture, planning and construction. As a result, the community has made significant progress in its infrastructural recovery and social equity. Engle believes her framework could be effective on a nationwide scale.

The Days for Girls (DfG) International program teaches Haitian seamstresses to produce DfG hygiene kits for distribution to women across Haiti. Each kit contains valuable information concerning female hygiene as well as safe, clean female hygiene products. During the two-month trial program, 90 percent of participants agreed the kits were easy to use and clean.

The Haitian Health Foundation’s (HHF) GenNext program combines a youth soccer league with “female sexual reproduction health” classes taught by nurse educators. The league is for girls only, as well as the classes. A three-year study of league participants compared to peers not in the soccer league showed significantly fewer pregnancies for league participants.

These programs and others continue to educate a generation of Haitian women eager to propel their
nation from poverty and hardship. As these efforts and more continue, girls’ education in Haiti is sure to only improve over the coming years.

– Charles Metz
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in HaitiAs the poorest country in the western hemisphere, citizens of Haiti suffer many hardships. Here are 10 of the most important facts about poverty in Haiti.

Facts About Poverty in Haiti

  1. Haiti has high poverty rates.
    The first of the 10 facts about poverty in Haiti is in regards to the rate of poverty in the Caribbean nation. According to United Nations Development Program, 24.7 percent of Haitians live in extreme poverty, which is less than $1.25 per day. Even more, approximately 59 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. However, the rate of extreme poverty has started to decline since 2000.
  2. Haiti has a large wealth disparity.
    Haiti is ranked fourth on the CIA World Factbook for income inequality. This measurement is based on the Gini coefficient, a ratio of highest to lowest incomes. For Haiti, this means that the top 20 percent of households hold 64 percent of the total wealth in the country.
  3. Haiti is prone to natural disasters.
    Haitian residents are all too familiar with natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm which struck Haiti in October 2017, killed 546 people and affected two million more. However, the consequences of the hurricane spanned over many months. In turn, the destruction of buildings and crops, a major source of income for Haitians, cost the country greatly.
  4. Haiti’s GDP growth has slowed.
    Haiti’s GDP growth slowed from 1.5 percent in 2016 to 1.2 percent in 2017. This is largely due to crop loss following Hurricane Matthew.
  5. Haitians suffer from energy issues.
    Haitians suffer from lack of or unreliability of electricity. According to USAID, the two key energy issues for Haiti are a broken electricity sector and a dependency on charcoal. This means that a large percentage of the population is without power and those who do have it have unreliable power. The issue remains at a standstill as a quarter of the population did not have power before the 2010 earthquake and that figure remains the same to this day.
  6. Haiti has poor leadership.
    Haiti has been led by a poor line of leaders since gaining independence from France. Pierre Esperance, director of the National Human Rights Defense Network in Haiti, said of the leaders in the L.A. Times, “They don’t really want to work for the Haitian people, to improve them. They work for themselves once they get to power. They want to steal money.”The country will need strong, dedicated leaders to better conditions, which it has never had before. However, the current president, Jovenel Moïse, has vowed to do just this. His plans include streamlining agriculture and addressing corruption.
  7. Many Haitians are malnourished.
    Approximately 100,000 children under the age of five are malnourished, while 30 percent of the overall population is considered food insecure. This means that citizens do not have ample access to nourishing food.
  8. Many Haitians do not have access to clean water.
    About one in two Haitians use unsanitary water, which has been proven to cause illnesses. In fact, about 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries are due in part to unsanitary water.
  9. Many Haitians lack an adequate education.
    Only 50 percent of children in Haiti attend school, making it more difficult to find employment in the future.
  10. Haiti has a large unemployment rate.
    In part due to the lack of education, many Haitians, about two-thirds, do not have formal jobs, resulting in unsteady incomes.

These important facts about poverty in Haiti have been prominent in Haiti for many years now. Though these issues are still severe, improvements have been made, including a leader who seems determined to better the lives of his citizens and a slowly declining poverty rate.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

media misrepresents Haiti
In recent years, the typical media portrayal of Haiti has consistently conjured up a static image of a beleaguered nation where visible indicators of natural disaster, political instability and extreme poverty abound. Though this representation is not entirely false, it is incomplete. Haiti is well-deserving of a more fitting image that conveys its dynamism and development.

Withstanding trial and tribulation, Haiti is among the most resilient nations in the world. Like any other developing country today, Haiti is continuing to make progress despite setbacks along its way. The media misrepresents Haiti to be a place that is completely devoid of progress, forever stifled by unfortunate issues of circumstance. To the contrary, Haiti enjoys a stunningly beautiful landscape and is inhabited by hardworking, happy people with the resolve to pursue better lives for themselves and a better legacy for their country.

Education Reforms

Ensuring that children have access to quality education is an important investment in the development of any nation. Elizabeth King, former Director of Education for the World Bank, said it best: “The human mind makes possible all development achievements from health advances and agricultural innovations to efficient public administration and private sector growth. For countries to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. And there is no better tool for doing so than education.”

To this end, Haiti has made quality education a top policy priority over the last decade. The Global Partnership for Education granted $24.1 million in funding to improve primary education access, school performance and enrollment in Haiti.

In the last four years, Haiti has enrolled more than 73,000 students in primary education, built six additional classrooms, developed and employed more than 3,500 qualified teachers at the primary level and implemented a learning assessment system for primary education. Furthermore, the grant has helped increase student attendance to 83.5 percent in disadvantaged areas and made nutrition and health programs accessible to more than 100,000 children.

Agriculture

Suggesting that there is a dearth of economic stimulus is a particularly damaging way that the media misrepresents Haiti. It is true that many Haitians live on less than $2 a day, but economic opportunity continues to develop in the country to counteract extreme poverty.

With a climate that supports the cultivation of important cash crops like cacao and mango, as well as several staple crops, Haiti has a promising agricultural sector. USAID has worked with the country to develop sustainable agricultural techniques that increase production, improve food security and strengthen agricultural markets, ultimately increasing agricultural incomes and helping to develop and support small and medium enterprises to spur investment opportunity in the country.

Tech

Much of the media misrepresents Haiti by failing to cover recent tech advancements at work within the country. Surtab, Haiti’s answer to Apple and Samsung, has become a shining example of successful tech innovation in the country. Surtab develops and delivers a range of electronic mobile devices throughout the Caribbean and the African continent. The company employs a highly-skilled workforce, many of whom are women, and is helping to drive private sector development.

In June, Haiti will host its second annual Haiti Tech Summit, which will be attended by local and international industry leaders, digital marketers and innovators. Keynote speakers include lead developers from Facebook and Google as well as several notable figures from around the world. Aggregating some of the best tech thinkers and creators in the industry, the Haiti Tech Summit aims to accelerate local entrepreneurship and to bring global attention to Haiti’s emerging markets.

Tourism

The media misrepresents Haiti by suggesting that the country is too poor and too battered by earthquakes and hurricanes to be beautiful. The Dominican Republic and Haiti are co-located on the island of Hispaniola. They both boast beautiful beaches with glittering turquoise waters, rolling mountains and temperate, tropical weather, but only the Dominican Republic is celebrated as a place that’s worth visiting.

Despite unfair media portrayals, Haiti has been gaining traction over the last five years as a tourist destination. Haiti offers potential travelers breathtaking landscapes, complicated history and rich culture. Resort towns like Jacmel and Cap Haitien boast scenic coastal views, opulent dining and luxe accommodations that rival those of top beach communities around the world.

According to MSN, expatriate designer Victor Glemaud recently returned to Haiti after having left more than a decade ago. The country he came back to shattered his expectations: “What I was expecting from the media, and all the perceptions around the world about Haiti, were nonexistent. I saw the same vibrancy, the same resilience I remember from growing up. . . I was expecting devastation, and I didn’t see that.” Contrary to popular portrayals of the Caribbean nation, Haiti is a beautiful, thriving country.

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Flickr

What is the Current State of Poverty in Haiti?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the developing world. Despite this, the Trump Administration is abruptly ending the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. The humanitarian program allowed about 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake which killed 150,000 people.

Haitians will be expected to leave the U.S. by July 2019 or face deportation. This is devastating news for Haitians who earn money in the U.S. to send to their families and for those receiving an education.

Poverty in Haiti

According to the World Bank, life expectancy for Haitians is only 57 years. Less than half of the population is literate and only about one child in five of secondary-school age actually attends secondary school.

Health conditions are poor and about one-fourth of the population has access to safe water. The population continues to grow at a high rate, estimated at almost 200,000 people per year, with the overwhelming majority living in extreme poverty.

Key factors of poverty in Haiti include political instability, inadequate growth in private investment, underinvestment in human capital, and poverty traps including environmental degradation, crime, systematic human rights violations, and outward migration.

Steps to be taken

  1. Strengthen essential public sector institutions, improve coordination and consultation within government, and re-establish and consolidate political stability.
  2. Strengthen macroeconomic stability and reduce distortions in order to encourage private sector investment and increase productivity.
  3. Improve the quality of government spending, invest in the provision of basic human needs, and raise the level of human capital.
  4. Ration the assistance provided by external donors.

There is clearly a lot of work to be done, but instead of abandoning Haitians when they need help the most, the U.S. needs to directly help with overturning their situation of dire poverty.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr