Fighting Poverty in Haiti
Haiti is a country among the most struggle-filled in terms of development in its personal history. With a long history of changing its rule, sociopolitical instability and copious natural disasters, Haiti faces one of the tallest uphill battles of any country. The country is one of the United States’ top trading partners and there has been a solid, though rocky, history between the two nations. The following will describe some of the struggles the country faces in developing its infrastructure, as well as a quick look at how the United States and other nonprofit groups are fighting poverty in Hati.

The Challenges of Infrastructure

Developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti is no small task, but Haiti has a history and a geographical position that makes it even more challenging than many other developing nations. Economically, Haiti has faced a depreciation of value in its currency and a heavy reliance on foreign aid that composes 20 percent of its overall annual budget. It also has faced a long history of dictatorships or otherwise corrupt government officials, which creates difficulty in achieving political stability even today. The most damaging factors to Haiti’s infrastructure, however, come from the natural world.

Haiti faces more natural disasters than any other Caribbean nation. Positioned on a fault line and directly in the path of most hurricane formations through the Gulf of Mexico, the nation suffers earthquakes, extreme flooding and wind damage. Though these are difficult enough to face on their own, a lack of city planning or rapid response to infrastructure damage leaves Haiti recovering for a lengthy time period after such disasters. In 2010, there was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that displaced many Haitians from their homes; from 2015-2017, there was a massive drought leading to losses of 70 percent of crops; and in 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to infrastructure and housing. Haiti faces a number of rapid-fire disasters and it does not have the economic resources nor the political responsibility required to recover.

There are other infrastructural systems that face significant issues in Haiti. Aside from damages to roads and buildings, there are many cities in Haiti without a central sewage system. Port-au-Prince is among the largest cities in the world without such a system, causing over 3 million people to use outhouses. The lack of improved sanitation systems leads to water contamination and outbreaks of diseases such as dengue, malaria and cholera. Internet access and electricity is also improving, but at a very slow rate – only about 12 percent of Haitians have access to the internet and roughly 44 percent have access to electricity.

Solutions

In order to assist with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti, organizations like the World Bank and USAID, and nonprofits such as HERO and Hope for Haiti, are coming together to provide assistance to Haitians both directly and through funding. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) rehabilitated over 100 kilometers of roadway, set up a debris processing facility and provided recovery kits to 50,000 people following the 2010 earthquake – all the while employing Haitians for such recovery projects and providing them a source of income.

The nonprofits HERO and Hope for Haiti are also helping with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti. HERO provides 24/7 medical emergency response, as well as other important health services, in Haiti. This means that when such disasters occur, there will still be emergency relief aid. Hope for Haiti is also assisting with education and water-based infrastructure – providing education for over 7,000 students, and 1.7 million gallons of clean water annually to families in need. The assistance of these organizations is integral, and with their help alongside national organizations and a potential increase in aid from the United States, Haiti can overcome its struggles for infrastructure.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Defense.gov