On September 28, 2018, the poverty-riddled country of Indonesia experienced a deadly natural disaster. A 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami that produced waves of up to 6 meters tall hit the city of Palu killing hundreds. As search efforts to find survivors continued, many news outlets have called into question the effectiveness of Indonesia’s early disaster warning system.

The Tsunami in Indonesia

BBC News reported that a system of 21 buoys used to trigger the warning system based off of the data that they receive was inactive during the time of the tsunami. Gifted to Indonesia by a few generous countries after the last natural disaster, the buoys had either been vandalized or stolen. With a strict budget in place, Indonesia hasn’t been able to afford the cost of replacing the buoys or maintaining the remaining system they currently have in place. As a result of the unreliable warnings in regards to the size of the waves, many have perished.

When a natural disaster hits a country that already has problems with its infrastructure due to poverty, like Indonesia, it often causes far more deaths and inflicts a lot more damage. BBC News compared similar natural disasters in three countries and found that impoverished areas are more susceptible to the effects of natural disasters.

The Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

In 2017 Puerto Rico suffered back to back hurricanes that left the country with even fewer resources than it had before. With 40 percent of its population living below the poverty line, the ailing country was already crippled by debt, experiencing a lack of electricity and facing school shutdowns. Given the state of Puerto Rico’s poverty crisis prior to the disaster, the country was ill-prepared for the effect the hurricane would have on its crumbling infrastructure.

Puerto Rico’s disaster relief efforts have been both challenging and expensive given its previous state of affairs. The U.S. has offered $2 billion to fix Puerto Rico’s electric grid, but in order to fix the damage done before and after the hurricane, it would take $17 billion. Further financial resources would have to be given to restore Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and help it to withstand natural disaster threats in the future.

The Earthquake in Haiti

Before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake disrupted Haiti back in 2010, 72.1 percent of the Haitian population was living on $2 a day in cities with poorly constructed cramped housing. Dwindling funds in Haiti were met with cost-cutting measures that led to faulty building codes. The soil-based land on which Port au Prince was built was at the epicenter of the earthquake, which also contributed to the city’s imminent collapse. With a stronger magnitude earthquake than Haiti, China lost 87.5 thousand people while Haiti lost 230 thousand citizens.

The earthquake in Haiti made quick work of the poverty-stricken area of Port au Prince. Haiti received $13.5 billion in aid relief after the earthquake, but with the money, came the unforeseen side effect of disease. After stationing soldiers on the ground to provide relief after the earthquake, toxic waste was spilled into a Haitian river causing a severe outbreak of Cholera which has killed an additional 9,000 people over the last four years. Additional relief funds will need to be provided to treat the epidemic.

When natural disasters strike areas that have been weakened by poverty, it leads to more damage, more lives lost and far more money needed to fix the situation. In many of these instances, measures could have been taken to prevent mass casualties, especially in areas where natural disasters pose a significant threat. Investing in long-term infrastructure solutions and natural disaster prevention instead of just throwing funds at a problem for an immediate fix in poverty prone areas will save more lives.

Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

affordable housingMakeshift tent communities become semi-permanent homes for those who have lost everything to natural disasters. Though housing charities like San Francisco-based New Story have built 850 houses for those affected by natural disasters since 2015, the cost and time it takes to build these houses are hindering the progress.

With plans to build an entire 3-D printed community in earthquake-prone El Salvador by the end of this year, New Story is partnering with ICON to print affordable housing for those that have no choice but to live in tents. Of the 850 houses built so fair, New Story has raised funds for 1,600. Solutions like the 3-D printed house will ensure that available funds are utilized efficiently, transitioning more communities from tents to secure shelters sooner.

Printing 3-D Affordable Housing

The current cost for one New Story house equipped with running water, a sanitary bathroom and concrete floor is $6,500. In March of this year, ICON, New Story’s tech construction partner, printed a 3-D house that only cost $4,000 and was built in 24 hours.

Specifically designed for disaster relief housing, the 3-D printer that built this prototype is made from aluminum, making the printer lightweight and easily transportable. The printer has a generator built in should a power outage arise. Designed to withstand worst conditions, ICON’s 3-D printer is revolutionizing affordable housing solutions, specifically for those devastated by natural disasters.

So far, houses built by New Story have improved the lives of over 6,000 people. Through traditional construction, houses have been built in the following places:

  • Haiti – Leveque, Labodrie, Minoterie, Gonaives
  • El Salvador – Nuevo Cuscatlan, Ahuachapan
  • Bolivia – Mizque

How 3-D Printed Houses Change Lives

Living in a secure shelter helps people out of poverty. Not having the worry of where clean water will come from, the floor turning into mud from the rain or someone robbing the home in the middle of the night allows people to focus on things other than survival.

Prior to living in their New Story houses, a community in Labodrie, Haiti, lived in tents for nearly six years after the 2010 earthquake. Many families were separated due to poor living conditions that were unsafe for children. Living in secure shelters bumped the community’s employment rate up 16 percent and reunited families. 150 homes were built equipped with clean running water, bathrooms and concrete floors.

Also devastated by the 2010 earthquake was Leveque, Haiti. People had been living in tent cities before New Story stepped in. With access to clean water, bathrooms and concrete floors, 75 percent of children in this community now attend school.

In El Salvador, 90 homes were built in Nuevo Cuscatlan and Ahuchapan with the help of New Story. In Nuevo Cuscatlan, 16 percent of homeowners started a business from their home, a playground was built in the community for the children and 66 percent of these children are attending school.

The Future of 3-D Printing

The impact of living in a solid home is the difference between surviving and thriving in a community. With the help of new technology, affordable housing will be built in even more communities than in the past. In addition to helping those affected by natural disasters, 3-D printing homes has the potential to help with a global housing shortage caused by rapid city growth and unaffordable housing prices.

According to City Lab, in some developing nations, “housing costs exceed incomes by more than 3000 percent.”  Disaster area or not, unaffordable housing puts people at risk for poverty.  Continued innovation by companies like ICON and New Story will build stronger, self-sustaining communities in places that are most susceptible to natural and manmade disaster.

– Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr

water access in haiti

Haiti has long been one of the most impoverished countries in the Western Hemisphere, with a population of 11 million ravaged by earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics in recent years. Now that the country is entering a new era of relative stability, after last year’s presidential election, government officials and civil society stakeholders are joining forces to improve water access in Haiti, a critical issue that has gone under-reported for years.

Diminished water access in Haiti contributed to the catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2010 which killed almost 9,500 people over several years. The outbreak began when water contaminated with cholera seeped into the River Artibonite from a base manned by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera still has a presence. The Artibonite is the longest and most important river in the country, providing millions of citizens with water access in Haiti.

The State University of Haiti (UEH), one of the country’s most prestigious universities, partnered with the University of Florida (UF) and Haiti’s national water agency, DINEPA, to host a symposium on water access in Haiti. Held on November 16, the conference focused on promoting research in the water sector and spurring creative solutions for the crisis surrounding water access in Haiti.

“The university’s medical college has its own system of water provision, assuring its own autonomy and bringing water to five laboratories that in turn provide water to around 1,000 people every day,” said Jean-Claude Cadet (head of UEH’s medical school) to the leading Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

DINEPA is looking to the university’s self-sustaining system as a model of how to improve water access in Haiti and tackle an equally important problem: ensuring better water quality for the country’s citizens. The conference, held on the university’s campus, concluded with three objectives for the partners to work on together: establishing a water treatment center at UEH’s medical school, reinforcing cooperation between UEH, UF and DINEPA, as well as other participants and, most importantly, establishing a new institute for water access and quality that will eventually produce highly educated graduates dedicated to the goal of creating greater water access in Haiti.

– Giacomo Tognini
Photo: Flickr

Street Vendor PharmacistsDue to the lack of pharmaceutical access in Haiti, people are buying and selling all types of medicine on the streets. These street vendor pharmacists sell medicines ranging from ibuprofen to Viagra and even high-powered antibiotics.

The reason for Haiti’s lack of access to pharmaceuticals is due to a lack of infrastructure. Haiti’s medical infrastructure is underdeveloped due to government instability and several natural disasters that have occurred over the last decade.

Because of these events, Haiti has not had the ability to stabilize their infrastructure. This has led to a decrease in the availability of goods, including pharmaceuticals to treat various diseases and ailments.

The street vendor pharmacists carry large plastic buckets stacked high with different medications, held together with rubber bands. They try to stack the pills in an aesthetically pleasing way so as to attract more people to their bucket. Nearly all of these vendors have little to no knowledge about the medication they sell. While there are pamphlets available for them to learn the purpose of these drugs, they are limited in quantity and scope.

While these street vendors are helpful for Haitians in need of medicine, it’s not a business that can last. Many of the medicines that these vendors acquire are expired or counterfeit, and rather than helping people, they make them feel worse.

According to an interview with journalists Paolo Woods and Arnaud Robert, these vendors do not have the intention of hurting their customers. While they want to help those who are in need of medicine, they are also trying to make a living for themselves.

With the help of organizational intervention, Haiti is rebuilding its pharmacies and health clinics to better provide for its people. Organizations such as Plan International Canada and Plan International Haiti are working to make healthcare accessible to Haitians in a sustainable way.

Rebekah Covey
Photo: Flickr

The debate over immigration is one of the key tenets of modern U.S. political discourse. The poverty aspect of the conversation, however, is frequently ignored.

But some academics have taken to asking an intriguing question: should poverty reduction through immigration legislation be taken more seriously as a proposal?

The data bears out how legal immigration can benefit both parties when it comes to alleviating poverty. Among Mexican immigrants, the largest foreign-born group in the U.S., those with legal recognition have a 12 percent lower rate of poverty than the undocumented. Average annual income is around $6,000 higher.

The domestic economy, and U.S. workers, can benefit from these influxes. The labor market becomes more efficient and managerial positions often appear and are usually filled by native-born Americans. Employers are also spurred on to comply with labor, health and safety regulations, unlike when undocumented migrants form their employment base.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act stands as a testament to what federally sponsored legal immigration can do to reduce poverty both domestically and abroad. The legislation legalized the status of 2.7 million immigrants and in the process increased their wages by 5 percent. A frequent criticism of a more liberal immigration policy is that it encourages poverty to ‘migrate’. This fails to account for the impact bills like the 1986 act can have to encourage poverty reduction through immigration.

More successful than some humanitarian and foreign aid projects, migration is capable of alleviating poverty among some of the most at-risk nations in the world. Haitians, the most poverty-stricken people in the Western hemisphere, have migrated in large numbers to the U.S. and Canada, often as refugees. Now, around four out of every five Haitians who are above the poverty line live abroad. These migrants, in turn, often repatriate wages back to Haiti to support their relatives.

Encouraging legal immigration as a policy goal could be under threat in 2017. The White House has made moves to significantly curb legal migrants and a new proposal endorsed by President Trump seeks to greatly limit the availability of green cards to family members of existing immigrants. The number of refugees will also be cut in half.

Congress appears unwilling so far to pass such a bill. Some Republican Senators have highlighted the economic benefits of legal immigration to their home states, such as South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham. They could join Democrats in universal opposition to the proposal and effectively kill it.

Treating immigration as a poverty-solving method could prove effective if taken seriously on Capitol Hill. While it appears any restrictions to legal immigration remain unlikely to pass, poverty still is a largely absent feature of the debate. The 1986 Immigration Reform Act, in particular, should stand out as an example of how to support poverty reduction through immigration.

Jonathan Riddick

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Haiti
Haiti is a country that struggles with severe poverty, being thrown inevitable challenges such as damage from hurricanes and earthquakes, causing the mass destruction of buildings and supplies that are difficult to come by in the first place. Haitians are in a constant fight to survive, but the good news is that efforts can be made to make a difference. Discussed below are the leading facts about poverty in Haiti and their implications.


Top 6 Facts on Poverty in Haiti


  1. Due to natural disasters, Haiti has faced major financial losses. Since the latest disaster caused by Hurricane Matthew, predicted losses add up to over $1.9 billion. This amounts to 22 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product. Haiti’s current economic growth rate is only one percent. With post-Matthew reconstruction, Haiti’s fiscal debt continues to grow.
  2. The World Bank has come up with a program called the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF). The HRF has cleaned up 900,000 cubic meters of debris and supplied Haiti with a total of $411.4 million. Furthermore, the group has managed to support the repair and rebuilding of almost 2,600 houses and delivered food to 252 schools which provided 93,000 students with meals.
  3. Although two-fifths of Haitians depend on agricultural production to provide income, around 30 percent of Haiti still struggles to obtain food. International aid has helped provide many of these people with food and continues to work on supplying sustainable farming techniques.
  4. Ninety percent of farmers must depend on the weather for their crops to be sufficiently watered. In drier seasons or droughts, these farmers are likely to lose their crops, which are both a source of sustenance and income. This, again, puts an emphasis on the importance of environmental care in Haiti.
  5. The richest 10 percent of Haitians receive 70 percent of the country’s total income. This illustrates class inequality and the vast gap in income that many third-world countries struggle with. In Haiti, especially, it is important to advocate on behalf of the country’s poor.
  6. Haiti is still considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world, with 59 percent of Haitians living below the national poverty line. Haiti depends heavily on foreign aid and other forms of economic assistance.

These facts about poverty in Haiti may raise curiosity around the following question: how can people help fight poverty in Haiti? For those who are looking to help, there are several effective charities helping to bring relief to Haitians, including Konbit Mizik, Madre, The Lambi Fund of Haiti and many others.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr

Montreal's Olympic StadiumRefugees began arriving in Canada, to the Montreal Olympic Stadium in the first week of August. Many of these refugees are originally from Haiti, among whom were children and pregnant women. Hundreds of people in Montreal gathered in front of the stadium to show support and let the refugees know they were welcome. Holding colorful signs and shouting welcome, the people were humbly approachable in front of the stadiums.

About 58,000 refugees, most of them Haitians, feared deportation from the U.S after President Donald Trump threatened to pull back protection for them. With this fear, Canada’s arms opened wide and offered to give these refugees a temporary stay.

The group of supporters were organized by Solidarity Across Borders and the Non-Status Action Committee. Solidarity Across Borders is an organization calling to end deportations, detention of migrants, immigrants and refugees, as well as ending the discriminating experience to those fleeing poverty. The organizations gathered with the same belief in regularizing undocumented papers of immigration.

With the increased number of people crossing the border, they needed a place to hold a lot more than a hundred people, and so they turned to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The stadium is Montreal’s most well-known landmark, having been built for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The stadium carried 56 thousand seats, which was quickly transformed into a shelter holding more than 400 cots. The shelter includes access to food, internet and showers.

A big arrangement, the action may inspire others around the world. Refugees are receiving discriminative behavior, but it’s acts like this that can change that. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was once built for a major event to bring people together for entertainment, and now, years later, it is transformed for a greater purpose—to help those in need.

Serge Bouchereau, organizer of the Non-Status Action Committee states, “We are here with them, to support them and to help them establish themselves.”

Brandi Gomez
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Haiti
Haiti is known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. According to a Global Sisters Report, more than half of its citizens live either on or below the poverty line, contributing to a dearth of resources like food. Severe hunger is one of the biggest consequences of Haitian poverty, which has gotten worse in recent times. Given the severity of the situation, it’s important to know what the causes of poverty in Haiti are.


Exploring the Causes of Poverty in Haiti


One of the biggest causes of poverty in Haiti is government instability. Throughout the past 30 years, Haiti has had 18 different leaders, with 18 different governments. Due to this upheaval, several officials and businesses have taken advantage of the situation for their own power and wealth, to the detriment of the rest of the Haitian people.

Another consequence of this instability is the lack of government funds due to a lack of paid taxes. This leads to poor or even nonexistent services, such as aid for natural disasters. When these disasters occur, it creates a bigger burden for a country already struggling with few resources.

Two recent disasters that have exacerbated Haitian poverty are the 2010 earthquake and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. According to The Economist, the earthquake left tens of thousands homeless, many of them still living in relief tents seven years later.

Still reeling from the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew destroyed much of the country’s livestock and crops. According to the Miami Herald, this leads to either desperate measures to attain food, like eating poisonous plants, or an over-dependence on foreign aid.

A study explored in the Global Sisters Report discussed how “[imported] rice accounts for the vast bulk [83 percent] of consumption.” The dependency on foreign food leads to less investment on local foods, hurting the already fragile economy.

Regardless, foreign relief alleviates a lot of the burden of Haitian poverty. Organizations like Food for the Poor and Misiόn Belem feed Haitians in areas where food is scarce.

In response to those areas of scarcity, current Haitian President Jovenel Moise vows to build up Haitian agriculture, like clearing the Duclos canal so the waters can be used to grow rice. Moise is also considering matters in Haiti beyond agriculture.

The Economist discussed how he received a report from The Copenhagen Consensus Centre outlining what it felt were the best investments into Haiti’s future. These investments included electricity reform, first responder training and infant immunization.

Although the causes of poverty in Haiti are varied and extreme, there are many people both within and outside of the island who are working towards ending Haitian poverty.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

In the United States, public education is frequently taken for granted. The plethora of education choices we are afforded often blinds those with privilege from how fortunate they are. In developing countries such as Haiti, these options are non-existent. The following nonprofits and other organizations are promoting education in Haiti.

Education for Haiti
With only about nine percent of Haitian children graduating from high school, Education for Haiti sees it as vital to ensure that children stay in school. The founder, Richard Ireland, spent time in the Peace Corps working in Haiti and saw firsthand the lack of access to education. After identifying six families living in extreme poverty, he decided to pay their children’s tuition. Altogether the six families had 33 children that he was able to send to school.

This legacy carries on today as the organization continues to provide tuition assistance to children of Haiti. While six families were helped last year, the organization hopes to grow to help even more.

Global Partnership for Education
Global Partnership for Education focuses on education all over the world. Through a series of grants, this organization is affecting change in Haiti. The first grant awarded to Haiti lasted from 2010 to 2015 and was utilized to increase access to education, boost student performance and increase governance in the school system.

The second grant to promote education in Haiti, which is $24.1 million, is set to last from 2014 to 2018. This grant is more targeted at enrollment. This reached 102,000 students the first year and an additional 35,444 the following year. This program is a tuition assistance initiative aimed at reaching children who otherwise would not be able to afford a non-public education.

As the educational and cultural arm of the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is renowned for its contributions to discovery and innovation around the world. Haiti is one of 181 countries in which UNESCO has created schools that are part of the Associated Schools Project Network.

With two primary schools, six secondary schools and 13 colleges, the organization is making notable changes in Haiti. The establishment of these schools not only bolsters Haiti but also helps the United Nations to reach the Education for Sustainable Development plan. These schools bring new perspectives based on innovation and experience.

Hope for Haiti
Like many nonprofits, Hope for Haiti focuses on more than one problem in Haiti, but education remains a key issue. Rather than focusing on ground-relief, it uses donations to power the organization and promote education in Haiti.

The nonprofit requires only $5 to provide school supplies to a student, and $100 can support an entire education. The scholarships provided to students through donations are able to change lives. One student, Marie Francelene, was able to attend nursing school through the organization’s assistance. Without Hope for Haiti, she would have been like thousands of other unfortunate students and unable to continue her education.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty
The Haiti Foundation Against Poverty has narrowed its view to a specific area of Haiti. The United Nations labeled the slum Cite Soleil one of the most dangerous places in the world, but this label only encouraged the Foundation. In 2008, Les Bours School was opened on the outskirts of the notorious slum.

Les Bours School was established to promote education among the most disadvantaged children in Haiti. These are children living in unimaginable conditions surrounded by violence and gangs. The school created hope for these children’s futures. To continue this program, each student at Les Bours School is matched with a sponsor in order to continue funding.

These organizations promoting education in Haiti have left a substantial impact on the small island country, with every bit of aid making a big difference.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr

Before the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 80 percent of Haitians already lived below the poverty line, and 54 percent of the natives lived in poverty. Already an economically struggling country, the earthquake shattered what little financial support it had by creating $8.5 billion in destruction. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Haiti’s gross domestic product decreased to 5.1 percent and destroyed 106,000 homes while damaging another 188,383 homes.

While the effects of the earthquake still linger, diseases in Haiti are still one of the most prominent causes of death in the nation. Tuberculosis has proven to be one of the most detrimental diseases in Haiti, with two million people dying each year due to the disease, and another 8.4 million contracting the disease. USAID notes that Haiti is among the highest per capita recipients of tuberculosis in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and has become one of the most infectious causes of mortality in both children and young adults with a recorded 6,814 deaths in 2007. EMBO reports that fewer than half of the tuberculosis cases are diagnosed, and of those diagnosed, only 30 percent have access to treatable care.

USAID notes that Haiti is among the highest per capita recipients of tuberculosis in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and has become one of the most infectious causes of mortality in both children and young adults with a recorded 6,814 deaths in 2007. The European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) reports that fewer than half of the tuberculosis cases are diagnosed, and of those diagnosed, only 30 percent have access to treatable care.EMBO suggests that the rate of tuberculosis in Haiti is largely in part of the expansion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS has also been one of the deadly diseases in Haiti, proving to be the cause of death for three million residents of Haiti per year. Of those who are diagnosed with HIV/Aids, one-third died of tuberculosis.

EMBO suggests that the rate of tuberculosis in Haiti is largely in part of the expansion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS has also been one of the deadly diseases in Haiti, proving to be the cause of death for three million residents of Haiti per year. Of those who are diagnosed with HIV/Aids, one-third died of tuberculosis.

Diseases in Haiti are also highly contracted from mosquito bites that in turn become vector-borne diseases. One of the most common vector-borne diseases is malaria, which impacts 1,278 residents out every 100,000 people annually. Another disease in Haiti that is notably less common is Chikungunya. The virus transmission was first reported in Haiti in May 2014, and infects 627 Haitians per 100,000. Cholera is the last example of vector-borne diseases in Haiti. It severely broke out following the earthquake in 2010, causing 700,000 cases of illness and 8,500 deaths last year. In 2014, 27,750 residents of Haiti reported having cholera, 296 deaths resulted from the disease.

Cholera is the last example of vector-borne diseases in Haiti. It severely broke out following the earthquake in 2010, causing 700,000 cases of illness and 8,500 deaths last year. In 2014, 27,750 residents of Haiti reported having cholera, 296 deaths resulted from the disease.

There are strong efforts to reduce diseases in Haiti through a variety of health programs. One of the health programs in Haiti is Partners in Health, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Partners in Health has made significant strides in integrating a “four pillars of health” system. This includes voluntary HIV counseling and testing in primary healthcare, maternal health services and tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment while providing healthcare from a humans rights approach and using paid community health workers to accompany patients with their chronic disease.

The work of Partners for Health has made a drastic and positive impact on HIV/AIDS prevention. Through the Partners for Health, a survey conducted off treatment approaches proved that 59 of 60 patients responded favorably to the treatment, providing hope for the future.Overall,

Overall, diseases in Haiti are still very prominent and remain a global issue for humanitarians. That said, programs such as Partners for Health are making a tremendous effort in reducing the rise of diseases in Haiti.

Patrick Greeley

Photo: Flickr