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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

tom_hiddleston_unicef
Tom Hiddleston is best known for playing Loki in the blockbuster hits Thor and The Avengers. Although he plays a despicable villain on-screen, his true persona is much more akin to that of the heroes his character so ardently despises. Since January 2013, Hiddleston has been an active and vocal supporter of UNICEF.

The British actor first became involved with UNICEF when he went on a trip to Guinea in West Africa to see the work that the organization is doing. While there, he met with children and members of the communities to see how UNICEF has impacted their lives. Hiddleston wrote six blog posts about his experiences there, ranging in topic from the various projects that have been implemented to playing soccer with local children.

As a ‘high profile’ supporter of the cause, much of his role is to raise awareness of UNICEF’s work and make their efforts known to a wider audience. His efforts have found resounding success: social media sites are rife with groups eager to support Hiddleston and his efforts. One group, called Hiddlestoners Have Heart, started an online fundraising event to support UNICEF UK with the goal of raising £14,000. To date, they have more than doubled that sum, raising a total of £32,771.34 (about $52,522 USD).

To further his advocacy efforts, Hiddleston also took part in 2013’s Live Below the Line Challenge. This annual campaign raises awareness of global poverty by challenging its participants to “live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for 5 days.”  That means living off of £1 or $1.50 per day. As one would expect, he found the challenge to be extremely difficult, but ultimately very enlightening.  He again wrote about it for the UNICEF blog, saying that the challenge taught him to think about food differently, to be less wasteful, and that it instilled in him a sincere sense of gratitude that he has never faced such hunger.

Tom Hiddleston’s involvement with UNICEF stands as an important reminder of the need to be active participants in the fight against global hunger and poverty. If the villainous Loki can find it in his heart to become a global citizen and to help those less fortunate, then certainly anyone can.

– Rebecca Beyer
Feature Writer

Sources: UNICEF, Live Below The Line, Hiddlestoners Have Heart
Photo: BuzzLamp